Monday, October 28, 2013

Emilia Da Prato -- Never Date a Dry Cleaner

Da Prato in 1927.   (Photo:  J. Willis Sayre)
"I have killed my sweetheart," Umberto Giusti, 37, told San Francisco police moments after he surrendered to them following the fatal shooting of Emilia Da Prato, his 26-year-old girlfriend, on December 19, 1933.  Da Prato, a promising opera singer, was one of two winners in the Western district of the Atwater Kent national radio audition contest in 1927.  She later placed second in the New York City portion of the contest.  According to Giusti, an employee of a dry cleaning establishment, he fell in love with Da Prato two years earlier and acted as her booking and press agent.  Giusti bankrolled her career and was buying his lover a car when he learned Da Prato was seeing another man, and planned to leave the Bay area for an audition with the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York City.  On the day of the killing, Giusti called at the Da Prato family home in South San Francisco and angrily confronted the woman, shooting her three times in the back.  He turned the gun on himself, but the weapon jammed and he wandered away in a daze.  Shortly afterwards, Giusti gave himself up at a local police station.  Neighbors and relatives of the dead woman shouting "Lynch him" attempted attempted to mob the self-confessed killer at the South San Francisco jail prompting authorities to hastily transport Giusti to the county jail at nearby Redwood City.  At trial in February 1934, the jealous dry cleaner turned opera impresario pleaded "not guilty by reason of insanity," but a jury needed less than two hours to convict him of first-degree murder with a recommendation of leniency that carried an automatic life sentence.

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