Family Of Black Teen Executed In 1931 Sues State Of Pennsylvania

The family of Alexander McClay Williams, a Black 16-year-old executed in 1931, has filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania and Delaware County for his death.

Williams, the youngest person ever executed in the state, was accused and convicted of killing 34-year-old Vida Robare, according to NBC News. However, prosecutors coerced the young man to confess to stabbing her 47 times.

Prosecutors at the time willfully ignored other suspects, including Robare’s recently divorced husband, Fred. He also worked at the school, and Robare deemed “extreme cruelty” as her reason for separation. Williams, on the other hand, was never located by any witnesses near or at the crime scene. Robare’s husband was the first to find her deceased body.

Alexander McClay Williams was executed on June 8, 1931.

The family remained adamant about the teen’s innocence, leading to his conviction being vacated in 2022. His record was expunged in 2017. With the charges dropped, Williams’ surviving family members now seek a semblance of justice.

Of the decision to dismiss Williams’ charges posthumously, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer also expressed the injustice in the trial that resulted in Williams’ execution.

“Sadly, we cannot undo the past. We cannot rewrite history to erase the egregious wrongs of our forebearers,” Stollsteimer said in 2022. “However, when, as here, justice can be served by publicly acknowledging such a wrong, we must seize that opportunity.”

Williams is another instance of racism in capital punishment. Over half of all wrongfully convicted death-row exonerees are Black, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Deemed as “a tool of injustice and discrimination” by the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the death penalty continues to disproportionally impact Black people nearly a century after William’s execution.

The Williams family hopes for punitive damages as retribution for the racism and injustice that led to the teen’s death.

Read more

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign In


Reset Password

Please enter your username or email address, you will receive a link to create a new password via email.