Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Serial killer benefited from racial bias

Posted By on Wed, Aug 11, 2010 at 2:09 PM

Irony seems to be in the very air we breathe these days. The latest example of irony piling on top of irony is the case of Henry Louis Wallace, the Charlotte serial killer who, between 1992 and 1994, killed nine young African-American women in the city. Most of Wallace’s victims were raped and strangled. He was sent to death row. Wallace is now one of 119 death row inmates who are seeking to have their death sentences converted to life without parole under the relatively new Racial Justice Act. Wallace is saying that racial bias was involved in his sentencing to be executed.

I don’t know Wallace, and I don’t know the judge who sentenced him. What I do know is that people who have little money, a majority of them African-Americans, are the ones who wind up on death row. That’s unjust and it stinks and should not happen, etc., etc., which is why we have a law like the Racial Justice Act. Wallace may or may not have a case, based on the statistical evidence that blacks are sentenced to death at a much higher rate than whites (or at least non-poor whites). BUT, the guy killed nine women, for God’s sake, most of whom he raped and strangled. If anyone deserves the death penalty – and that is a big, big if, better discussed another time – it’s Henry Louis Wallace. OK, so an African-American man who killed nine African-American women says the judge was racially biased; score 1 for irony.

The real, and more tragic, irony, however, is that racial bias, or at least unconcern, was the main reason it took police over a year to realize they had a serial killer on their hands. Some young black women were killed over a period of time, and the police’s attitude was, essentially, “So what else is new?” The victims weren’t white cheerleaders or A students from posh neighborhoods, so no one noticed any connections between the cases for a long time. In other words, in Wallace's case, if racial bias, or at least racial blinders, hadn’t been at work, the serial killer would no doubt have been caught sooner, and at least a few young women’s lives would have been saved. That is how racial bias had an effect on the Henry Louis Wallace case. His lawyers must have more gall than the rest of the state’s population combined.  Here are some of Wallace's murdered victims:

Michelle Denise Stinson
  • Michelle Denise Stinson

Caroline Love
  • Caroline Love

Deborah Slaughter
  • Deborah Slaughter

Betty Jean Baucum
  • Betty Jean Baucum

Shawna Denise Hawk
  • Shawna Denise Hawk

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