Claudette Carter, graduated from Widener University and enjoys focusing on her love for God as well as the positive things in life.
A Devastated Family Seeks Justice for Their Loved One
A 16-year-old by the name of Alexander McClay Williams was placed in the electric chair. His 125-pound body was so diminutive that something was placed underneath Alexander in order for the execution officers to carry out this unjust electrocution. Tears flowed down Williams' face as a hood was placed over his head. Alexander was somewhat mentally challenged, so he did not fully comprehend why he was being put to death. Suddenly, more than 2,000 volts of electricity pummeled the body of Alexander on June 8th, 1931.
A Decision From the District Attorney's Office Based on the Case of Alexander McClay Williams
Recently, Susie Carter, the sister of wrongfully convicted and executed Alexander McClay Williams, and Susie's daughter, Ocie Williams, acknowledged that a hearing scheduled for May 11th, 2017, was canceled. The reason was given through a text message, which stated: "The DA has agreed to grant a partial expunge of Uncle Alex's record. Meaning the verdict is removed but the court docket number and record/file will remain as the record." Susie's comment about this decision was, "I wanted Alexander's record completely cleared." What Susie will do in response to this decision will be forthcoming in the future.
Why Was Alexander Williams Put to Death?
Alexander McClay Williams was sent to Glen Mills reform school after being accused of setting a barn on fire. Alexander was supposed to serve four years at this facility for juvenile delinquents. During his sentence, a Caucasian woman by the name of Vida Robare was murdered at this location. She was brutally stabbed 47 times with an ice pick. Many people, including the victim's family, acknowledged that this was a crime of passion. Fred Robare, the husband of the Vida, was the obvious suspect.
During an interview on Fox 29 News at 10, Fred's great-niece Teresa Smithers stated, "My ancestor got away with murder." Chris O'Connell, a reporter with Fox, spoke with Teresa over the telephone: "She told us that her uncle came from a very abusive and alcoholic family and after doing her own research, she even believes Alexander McClay Williams was framed." During his report, O'Connell explained, "In a stunning revelation not known until recently, they learned Vida Robare had divorced her husband nine years earlier in Michigan. The reason she stated in the records, 'Extreme cruelty.' The belief is that Robare killed his wife in a fit of rage and framed it on the closest delinquent he could find and don't take their word for it."
Unfortunately, after the murder of Vida Robare, Alexander Williams was arrested October 10, 1930. He was convicted by an all-white jury. Two hundred and forty-three days later, Williams was executed on June 8th, 1931. Without any family present, this dejected 16-year-old young man was put to death based on varietal evidence. His family was devastated.
Today, Susie Williams Carter still wants her brother to be exonerated for the murder of Vida Robare. With tears in her eyes, Susie commented, "Anybody now knows that you stab somebody all that many times, it was a crime of passion." The extreme sadness and tears on Susie's face touched the hearts of viewers as they could see the pain and loss of her brother was still present. She never had the privilege to know Alexander. Susie was only an infant when he was fallaciously convicted and put to death for a murder he could not have possibly committed.
Powerful New Evidence Has Been Revealed
Sam Lemon, an outstanding author, was interviewed during the Fox 29 News feature. He turned out to be the stranger that discovered new evidence that proves Alexander McClay Williams was an innocent victim of the justice system. "Originally, my goal was to find out why he would do this."
News reporter O'Connell mentioned during the broadcast how "Lemon has been researching this case for the past 30 years because his great-grandfather, William Ridley, was the attorney who originally represented Williams during his murder trial." With tremendous compassion, Lemon went on to express, "The image of him sitting in that electric chair with a hood over his head, I can't get that out of my mind. This story haunts me."
Chris O'Connell also mentioned, "Lemon uncovered a trove of new evidence. Forged documents, changing Williams' age and Robare's death certificate written in different color ink days before the boy was even arrested. The headlines of the day saying: 'The Crime Was Committed By An Adult.' The bloody handprint on the wall although Williams never had a speck of blood on him that day."
Toward the end of the interview with Chris O'Connell, Lemon emphatically acknowledged that unless justice was served regarding the declaration of Alexander Williams' innocence by the judicial system, "It is also a stain on the court. It is a stain on the honor of the court."
Alexander's Attorney Was Accused of "Grandstanding" by the Judge
The very determined and astute Robert Keller, Esquire, stood before Judge John Capuzzi. A feeling of frigidity filled the room. Susie Williams Carter, along with family and friends, appeared with heavy hearts. They wanted to clear Alexander's name for his last surviving sibling. The entire situation has been unbearable for Susie, now in her 80s. Other family members and friends just want justice for Alexander McClay Williams as well.
Disappointment permeated the courtroom as Judge Capuzzi claimed: "The petition lacked standing . . . It does not identify a person of interest." The Judge went on to explain, "It does not give this court or anybody that picks up the record information about what you are seeking." Negative words such as "grandstanding and unprepared" were flagrantly used by Judge Capuzzi toward Keller. His concern was that the attorney would "turn the hearing into a show instead of addressing the issues . . . ". The Judge agreed that he would give Attorney Keller, "one week to either attach an affidavit or establish an estate."
During an interview Keller, fervently expressed how he had filed a petition and checked with the DA's office to "explore any possible issues, but received no response until 15 minutes before Friday's hearing." In an article by Alex Rose, of the Delaware County Daily Times, Judge Capuzzi acknowledged, "I'm trying to make sure that we don't commit any errors. So we'll do it this way and if the Commonwealth does not file an objection, then I'll enter the order. It is as simple as that." The negative tone toward Attorney Keller from Judge Capuzzi made members of the family feel uncomfortable and disillusioned.
Attorney Robert Keller remained subdued and confident during the proceedings. He finally admitted after the hearing: "I have thick skin." A graduate from Temple University in 1979, Keller practices Criminal Law. He is representing Alexander in order to clear his name of this bloodcurdling murder that evidence has now proven he did not commit. Attorney Keller carefully explained, "In criminal matters, you do not have to create an estate. It is not needed. The code of ethics does not require it. I am doing this pro bono. Any costs have been out of my pocket. It is expensive to create an estate. This could cost several hundred dollars. It can create potential tax issues. There are so many layers to create an estate. It doesn't make sense."
The frustration was clearly present within Keller's eyes. He would continue to do what is humanly possible to represent Alexander McClay Williams, regardless of the persecution and disappointments, because "there has never been a case like this in the state of Pennsylvania and there will never be another one," because minors are not allowed to be put to death by the state. This was truly an original case with original concerns.
Interview With Susie Williams Carter
Family Members and Friends Who Attended the Hearing to Exonerate Alexander Williams
Family Members and Friends Want Justice and Closure
Tina, the wife of Lee Graves, nephew of Alexander, summed up the wrongful conviction and execution of Alexander Williams this way: "I really think even though it's been 86 years, it's time for justice to be done. He was unjustly killed after all these years. They swept it under the table, now it's out and it is time for something to be done. The family needs some type of closure. I really believe that young man was innocent. How could a 16-year-old commit murder like that? It is no way! That had to be done by someone else."
Kenneth Lee Graves, nephew of Alexander, made this comment about the justice system: "They can't say no more. They say it can and shall be used against you which is The Miranda Law. For them to speak is to speak against themselves. You are guilty. You have no defense. Throw yourselves on the mercy of your law. It took two days to convict him." Graves could not understand why it was taking the legal system so long to undo this wrongful conviction and execution of his uncle. Eighty-six years later, justice for Alexander still evaded the Williams family.
Bonnie White, Kenneth Graves' god-mom, stated, "It is deep. Eighty-something years and it brings back a lot because we talk about Black Lives Matter. I look forward to him being exonerated because he is crying out from the grave to be exonerated."
This case has touched the lives of so many people. It is our prayer and hope for the future that Alexander McClay Williams will be exonerated before the death of his last living sibling. Susie Williams Carter has suffered this tremendous loss. The intensity of her pain for this loss of Alexander continues to be insufferable. She was an infant when the state electrocuted her brother. Susie never had the privilege to know her brother, only this abhorrent legacy of Alex.
She finds comfort in her daily prayers to her Heavenly Father Jehovah that one day this issue will be resolved. Her strong faith and trust in God gives Susie hope for the future that one day Alexander and others like him, unjustly murdered, will receive justice. Powerful scriptures like Proverbs 3:5,6 reminds Susie of the real source of trust and faith as it states: "Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not rely on your understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he will make your paths straight." May we all be in prayer for the Williams family and that real justice will prevail for all humankind in the future.
References and Updates
- Record expunged for teen executed in 1931
A suburban Philadelphia judge has expunged the criminal record of a 16-year-old boy executed more than eight and one-half decades ago for the murder of a matron at a school.
- Finally, a headstone for a restless soul executed for a murder no one believes he committed
"To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die," said Samuel Lemon, who spent more than 30 years collecting evidence he hopes will fully exonerate a 16-year-old African American youth who was executed for stabbing a White woman.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Angelladywriter on September 27, 2019:
I agree with your comment. It is sad that the family has not received justice for Alexander’s death. I look to the true God Jehovah in prayer that vengeance and justice belongs to him. That is the hope I have for our family. I will continue to focus on prayers for the future.
Claudette Coleman Carter (author) from Media, Pennsylvania on March 21, 2017:
I totally agree. There are so many cases like this within the judicial system. I see the pain these type of situations can cause a family. It is time for this family to receive closure, that is why the Williams family should be kept in our prayers as well as other families that have experienced and endured these type of situations.
Thanks again Lawrence for your encouraging response to this article.
Lawrence Hebb on March 21, 2017:
Great article here, there are so many like this, where innocent people paid for the crimes of others.
It's time to give the family 'closure' and time to stop the practice.
It's crimes like these that force me to be against capital punishment.