Monday, June 30, 2008

Parole Sought In 1964 Murder With Gunpoint Confession

From the AP:

A posse of several hundred outraged white men hunted the accused across the mountain and caught him in a field in Tennessee. Beecher was shot in the leg and forced at gunpoint to confess. Later, his gangrenous leg was amputated at a prison hospital. Injected with morphine after the surgery, he signed a confession.

The mishandling of the case by law enforcement and prosecutors led to three convictions being reversed, including two death sentences. Beecher did plead guilty later to murder and received a life sentence, avoiding the electric chair. He is incarcerated at the Bullock Correctional Center.

The original handling of the kidnapping, rape and murder of Martha Jane Chisenhall, who was pregnant and only 21 at the time of her death, is sickening, but if this man is -- or might be -- the one who committed this horrific crime, I wouldn't want Johnnie Daniel Beecher paroled out of sympathy for the horrific and racist treatment he was subjected to in order to get him to confess verbally and then in written form.

Beecher is 75 now, but age doesn't automatically make a murderer non-violent.

If anyone believes he did not commit that crime then the case should be reviewed to see if there is any DNA evidence linked to the murderer. If a murderer (of whatever race) has escaped justice because of racist assumptions about chain-gang escapee, that person should start worrying that justice will be done.

State Rep. John Robinson, a teenager in Scottsboro at the time, said the attack on Chisenhall stirred up the racial animosity of the earlier case.

"Because it was black on white, it got people stirred up," said Robinson. "People formed posses and there were hundreds of people looking for Beecher. They brought in dogs from Montgomery. All the mountaineers had their shotguns out and their straw hats on."

This statement might reflect reality, but it is sickening in the implication that if the victim had been black and the suspect had been white that no group of men would have been stirred up to track down a rapist/murderer.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:32 AM   0 comments links to this post

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