This is the first installment in a two-part series looking at the history of the murders of Cecil B. DeMille and John Wilkes Booth, two prominent abolitionists who were assassinated by the Ku Klux Klan.
In the second installment, I look at the murder of Charles Whitman and the rise of the Ku-Klux-Klan.
As usual, this series contains images of the crime scene and a summary of the charges.
This week, I’ll talk about the case of Charles Wallace Jr., a 19-year-old who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder.
Wallace was 17 when he shot Booth in the head in the parking lot of a nearby store.
The gunman, a white supremacist named Charles Wallace, told police that he shot him in self-defense.
Wallace said he wanted to protect Booth from his family and friends.
After his conviction, Wallace was tried in absentia, which is a form of capital punishment, and the trial was held in a federal courthouse in Chicago.
A jury convicted Wallace of second-degree murder and received a life sentence.
Wallace appealed his conviction and was granted a new trial.
The federal appeals court reversed the jury’s verdict and upheld Wallace’s conviction, finding that his confession did not violate the Constitution.
On October 23, 1993, Wallace’s lawyers filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, arguing that the conviction was barred by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Wallace claimed that because his confession was involuntary, it was not a confession.
In a majority opinion, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote that Wallace’s confession was voluntary.
She wrote that the confession was a “factually inaccurate statement” and that it violated the constitutional guarantee of due process.
Wallace had been in a mental institution for about two years prior to his confession, according to a sworn statement made in federal court by a mental health counselor.
He had “repeatedly expressed to the counselor his intention to commit a mass murder of African Americans,” O’Connell wrote.
The psychiatrist, who was not named in the opinion, testified that Wallace had a history of violent behavior, including multiple arrests and an armed robbery.
During the hearing, Wallace told the psychiatrist that he was a member of the Klan, that he planned to kill Booth and that he had planned to take the gun from Booth’s body.
During oral arguments, O’Conner and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued that the Fifth, which requires a defendant to give up any right he or she may have had, would not be invoked in Wallace’s case because the Fifth is not a privilege.
Ginsburg noted that Wallace was sentenced under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which prohibit an individual from using a gun to kill another person.
In addition to Ginsburg, Justice Elena Kagan joined O’Donnell and Ginsburg in voting to uphold Wallace’s murder conviction.
She also dissented from the majority opinion.
The court upheld Wallace in part because of the fact that the jury was instructed by a prosecutor that it could convict Wallace of first-degree homicide if the defense “proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the killing was justified.”
Wallace’s lawyer argued that Wallace could have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
But the judge rejected that argument, ruling that Wallace must be convicted of second degree murder.
After the decision was announced, Wallace posted a video on his Facebook page in which he called the decision “shameful.”
In a letter to his family, Wallace wrote that he hoped the death penalty would serve as a deterrent for others, particularly young men like him who have never experienced violence.
“I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering caused by the recent Supreme Court decision,” he wrote.
“As a young man, I did not realize the potential harm I could bring to my peers.
I am now an adult, and I wish to serve as an example to others that it is never okay to commit violence against others, especially young men.”
The day after Wallace’s death, Wallace had become an activist.
He was arrested for trespassing at a park, then released without charge.
In 1993, he was sentenced in his native Alabama to 20 years in federal prison for participating in a KKK demonstration.
On February 4, 1995, Wallace walked into a crowded federal courthouse where he was scheduled to testify in the case against the KKK, the Justice Department and the Klan.
Wallace testified that he did not know that Booth had been killed until he was shown the evidence by the defense attorneys.
He said that he could not remember who had been present at the time of Booth’s murder.
During his testimony, Wallace claimed he did know that the Klan was involved in the killing of Booth because he had read an article that was published on the Klan’s website, The Black Book of Hate.
He claimed he had been warned about the Klan and that “I was told I would be a target for a Klan