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William ANDREWS

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

   


A.K.A.: "THe Hi-Fi Murders"
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery - Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: April 22, 1974
Date of arrest: Next day
Date of birth: 1954
Victims profile: Carol Naisbitt, 52; Michelle Ansley, 19, and Stanley Walker, 20
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Weber County, Utah, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Utah on July 30, 1992
 
 

 
 

The so-called Hi-Fi Murders was an infamous criminal case involving murder, rape and robbery which occurred in the Hi-Fi Shop in Ogden, Utah on April 22, 1974.

The crimes were committed by two 19-year-old United States Air Force airmen, Pierre Dale Selby and William Andrews. Selby and Andrews took five people hostage, killed three of them, and left the two who survived with horrific injuries.

Following a trial, both men were found guilty and sentenced to death. The NAACP campaigned to commute Selby and Andrews' death sentences, despite overwhelming physical evidence and witness accounts that identified them as the killers beyond a reasonable doubt.

The robbery, rape, and murders

Selby and Andrews entered the Hi-Fi store in Ogden just before closing time, brandishing handguns. Two employees, Stanley Walker, age 20, and Michelle Ansley, age 19, were in the store at the time and taken hostage. Selby and Andrews took the two into the basement of the store, bound them, and then began robbing the store.

Later, a 16-year-old boy named Cortney Naisbitt entered the store to thank Walker for helping him with an errand and was also taken hostage and tied up in the basement with Walker and Ansley. Later that evening, Orren Walker, Stanley's 43-year-old father, became worried that his son had not returned home. Orren arrived at the store and was also taken hostage; at this point, Ansley began begging and crying.

After Orren was taken to the basement, Selby ordered Andrews to go out to their van and bring him back something. Andrews returned with a bottle in a brown paper bag, from which Selby poured a cup of blue liquid. Selby ordered Orren to administer the liquid to the other hostages, but he refused, and was bound, gagged and left face-down on the basement floor. Just then, Carol Naisbitt, Courtney's 52-year-old mother, entered the store looking for her son. Carol was taken to the basement, bound, and placed next to her son.

Selby and Andrews then propped each of the victims into sitting positions and forced them to drink the liquid, telling them it was vodka laced with sleeping pills. Rather, it was an industrial drain cleaner whose active ingredient was sodium hydroxide. The moment it touched the hostages' lips, enormous blisters rose, and it began to burn their tongues and throats and peel away the flesh around their mouths. Ansley, still begging for her life, was not forced to drink the drain cleaner.

Pierre and Andrews tried to duct-tape the hostages' mouths shut to hold quantities of drain cleaner in and to silence their screams, but pus oozing from the blisters prevented the adhesive from sticking. Orren Walker was the last to be given the drain cleaner, but seeing what was happening to the other hostages, he allowed it to pour out of his mouth and then faked the convulsions and screams of his son and fellow hostages.

Selby became angry because the deaths were taking too long and were too loud and messy, so he shot both Carol and Cortney Naisbitt in the backs of their heads. Selby then shot at Orren Walker but missed. He then fatally shot Stan Walker before again shooting at Orren, this time striking him in the back of the head.

Selby then took Ansley to the far corner of the basement, forced her at gunpoint to remove her clothes, then repeatedly and brutally raped her while Andrews watched. When he was done, he dragged her, still naked, back to the other hostages, threw her on her face, and fatally shot her in the back of the head.

Andrews and Selby noted that Orren was still alive, so Selby mounted him, wrapped a wire around his throat, and tried to strangle him. When this failed, Selby and Andrews inserted a ballpoint pen into Orren's ear, and Selby stomped it until it punctured his eardrum, broke, and exited the side of his throat. Selby and Andrews then went upstairs, finished loading equipment into their van, and departed.

Investigation

The victims were discovered four hours later when Orren's wife and other son came to the store looking for them. Orren's son heard noises coming from the basement and broke down the back door while Mrs. Walker called 9-1-1. Stan Walker and Ansley were already dead; Carol Naisbitt lived long enough to be loaded into an ambulance, but was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

Although Cortney was not expected to live, he did survive, albeit with severe and irreparable brain damage, and required hospitalization for 266 days before being released. Despite his severe injuries, Orren Walker survived, although with extensive burns to his stomach and esophagus.

Hours after news of the crime broke, an Air Force officer called the Ogden police and told them that Andrews had confided in him months earlier, "One of these days I'm going to rob that hi-fi shop, and if anybody gets in the way, I'm going to kill them."

Hours after that call was received, two teenage boys Dumpster diving near Hill Air Force Base where Selby and Andrews were stationed discovered the victims' wallets and purses, and, recognizing the pictures on the drivers' licenses, called the police. A crowd of airmen quickly formed, including Selby and Andrews.

The detective who responded to the scene, believing that the killers might be in the crowd, put on a show, speaking dramatically and waving each piece of evidence in the air with tongs as he removed them from the Dumpster.

He later noted in his report that out of all the airmen gathered around the dumpster, most of whom stood still and watched in relative silence, two in particular paced around the crowd, spoke loudly, and made frantic gestures with their hands. The detective later identified these two airmen as Selby and Andrews. The detective later received an award from the Utah branch of the Justice Department for his use of proactive techniques.

Based on Selby's and Andrews's reactions to the evidence being removed from the trash bin, and the officer's implication of Andrews, Andrews and Selby were taken into custody and a search warrant was issued for their barracks. Police found fliers for the hi-fi shop and a rental contract for a unit at a public storage facility.

Police obtained a warrant for the storage unit, where they discovered several pieces of stereo equipment which were later identified from serial numbers as having been taken from the hi-fi store. During the course of removing the equipment from the storage unit, detectives discovered the half-empty bottle of industrial drain cleaner that had been used on the hostages. Based on this evidence Selby and Andrews were formally charged with the crimes.

A third person, Keith Roberts, was also charged.

Trial

Selby, Andrews and Roberts were tried and jointly for first-degree murder and robbbery. Selby and Andrews were convicted of all charges and sentenced to death. Roberts was convicted only of robbery and was sentenced to imprisonment.

During the trial it was revealed that Selby and Andrews had robbed the store with the intention of killing anyone they came across, and in the months prior to the robbery had been looking for a way to commit the murders quietly and cleanly.

The two then saw the film Magnum Force, in which a prostitute is forced to drink Drano and is then shown immediately dropping dead. Selby and Andrews decided that this would be an efficient method of murder and decided to use it in their crime. Orren Walker and Cortney Naisbitt were the star witnesses for the prosecution; both testified on the stand, in spite of Naisbitt's brain damage and Walker's mutilated throat.

Aftermath

Following the issuing of death sentences, the NAACP demanded that Selby and Andrews' sentences be reduced to life with the possibility of parole, claiming that Pierre and Andrews had been unfairly convicted since they were both black, and the victims and jury were all white.

Andrews was quick to accuse the judicial system of racism following the NAACP's request for reduced sentences, and in an interview with USA Today, he claimed that he had never intended to kill anyone; this was later rebutted when detectives cited a statement by Andrews in which he admitted being the one to purchase the drain cleaner and bring it to the store on the night of the killings.

Selby and Andrews became notoriously hated prisoners, even amongst the black population. They were particularly reviled on death row, especially by Gary Gilmore (also facing capital punishment and imprisoned at the same facility), whose final words to his fellow inmates before being taken to face the firing squad were, "I'll see you in Hell, Pierre and Andrews!" Gilmore is reported to have laughed at Selby and Andrews as he passed by their cells.

Despite movements by the NAACP and Amnesty International, Selby and Andrews were both put to death by lethal injection, Selby on August 28, 1987, Andrews five years later in 1992.

The Hi-Fi Murders are still seen as among the worst crimes ever committed in the state of Utah. The case is now taught to FBI trainees at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia, and it was included as a sample case in the FBI's Crime Classification Manual.

Cortney Naisbitt's story became the basis for the book Victim: The Other Side of Murder by Gary Kinder. This book was viewed by many as pioneering because it was one of the first true crime books that focused on the victims of a violent crime rather than the criminals. Cortney suffered chronic pain for the rest of his life, until his death on June 4, 2002 at the age of 44. Due to his brain damage, he was forced to drop out of college, and because he could not hold down a job, had to apply for social security assistance.

Orren Walker, the other victim who survived the brutal attack, died on February 13, 2000.

The incident was also the basis for a 1991 CBS Television movie called Aftermath: A Test of Love, starring Richard Chamberlain and Michael Learned.


Hi-Fi Torture Victim Dies 28 Years Later

The Salt Lake Tribune | 7/15/2002 | GLEN WARCHOL

Twenty-eight years after the brutal Hi-Fi murders shocked Utah, Cortney Naisbitt, one of the two survivors of Ogden's 1974 torture-murder rampage, has died.

Naisbitt, who was plagued throughout his life by disabilities that stemmed from being tortured, shot in the head and left for dead, died June 4 in Seattle after a long, undisclosed illness. He was 44.

His father, Byron Naisbitt of Ogden, declined comment except to say: "This is the end of the Hi-Fi story. I want this to be the end of it."

The story of Cortney Naisbitt's struggle to survive his wounds and rebuild his life after the crime, which was made into a book and later a television movie, is credited by many with starting the victims' rights movement. Byron Naisbitt says a deeper understanding of the victims of crime would be the best legacy of his son's struggle.

On April 22, 1974, the 16-year-old high school science whiz had just completed his first solo flight as a pilot. After having his shirt tail unceremoniously cut off by his instructor and nailed to the wall of the flight school, Naisbitt headed for home.

But he decided to stop at a downtown Ogden photo shop to pick up some pictures. To get back to the parking lot, he took a shortcut through the neighboring Hi-Fi Shop. There, Naisbitt was confronted by Pierre Dale Selby and William Andrews, airmen from Hill Air Force Base, who were in the process of robbing the store.

Selby and Andrews took hostage the high school student and two other people -- Stanley Walker and Michelle Ansley. Later, when Naisbitt's mother, Carol Naisbitt, and 20-year-old Walker's father, Orren Walker, came to look for their sons, they too were held at gunpoint in the store basement.

The men forced their five hostages to drink caustic Drano drain opener. Selby raped 18-year-old Ansley. Later, he began shooting each hostage in the head. When Orren Walker showed signs of life, Selby, who had run out of bullets, kicked a ball-point pen into his ear.

Although Orren Walker and Cortney Naisbitt survived the ordeal, Naisbitt, badly brain damaged, never remembered the events of that day. Walker was the key witness in the trial.

Selby was executed by lethal injection in 1987. Despite appeals on the basis that Andrews had not done any of the shootings, he was executed in 1992. A third man, who was waiting outside in the getaway car, was convicted of robbery.

After Andrews' execution, Naisbitt told The Salt Lake Tribune he had forgiven Selby and Andrews, but added, "Where does the anger a victim feels for a perpetrator go when the perpetrator is gone?"

In an interview, Gary Kinder, author of Victim: The Other Side of Murder, which recounts Naisbitt's struggle to survive his horrible wounds and graduate high school, said the 16-year-old was never expected to live.

"The doctors, from the moment he arrived in the emergency room until he got out of the intensive care unit seven months later, thought he was going to die at any time," Kinder said. "In ICU, you either get better in a few days or you die. He stayed right on that edge."

Kinder said Naisbitt's survival was a testimony to the support he received from his family, church and community, particularly his father Byron Naisbitt.

"It was as if Byron willed him to live. He had someone there holding Cort's hand 24 hours a day. Brothers, sisters, members of his church. Doctors are not particularly sentimental, but they saw no other reason whatsoever for him to have survived."

Naisbitt later trained in computers and held a job at Hill Air Force Base. Kinder, now a best-selling author, said he wrote Victim in 1984 to explore the lasting impact of crime on the victims. Books about criminals always have been popular, he said. "This was the only book until recently that dramatized the victims' side of crime. I hope I made these people real because they were your next-door neighbor."

When Kinder, who had never before written a book, approached Byron Naisbitt to write the book, the widowed father said simply, "If you think hearing our story will help somebody down the road, let's do it."

Over the years, the author, who remains close to the family, says he has heard from many readers, including criminal defense attorneys, who have been forced to rethink their beliefs about justice and capital punishment.

"It did not bother me at all when they executed [Selby]," Kinder said. "Pierre Dale Selby was a psychopath. The other two men were terrified of him."

But Kinder is still struggling to make sense of Naisbitt's death after so many years of struggle: "I don't know how to answer that question."

 


Hi-fi shop murders in Ogden, Utah

In 1974 the high profile case of the Hi-Fi Shop murders would forever change the lives in the community of Ogden Utah.

In years past, one could walk down the streets of Ogden Utah with a feeling of security, without the worry of who might be waiting around the corner, or just beyond the door. On April 22, 1974, all that would change for this picturesque town in Northern Utah. Having a relatively low crime rate at the time, the citizens of Ogden would be rocked by the events of this night, forever changing their community.

April 22, started out like any other spring day, but before the day’s end, five people would experience the most inexplicable terror they could have ever imagined.

The day wore down to late afternoon, and prominent Ogden citizen, Carol Naisbitt, wife of Doctor Byron Naisbitt, became worried when her son, Cortney was extremely late arriving home from an errand at the Hi-Fi Shop, located on Washington Blvd in Ogden. As the minutes ticked by, Carol became more worried, knowing this was completely out of character for her son. Deciding he had been gone way too long, Carol went in search of her son. When she walked into the Hi-Fi Shop, Carol walked onto the scene of what would soon become one of the most grisly murders in Utah history.

Cortney and three other people, Sherry Machelle Ansley, Orren Walker, and (Orren’s son) Stanley Walker were being held hostage by two black gunmen. Just after Carole walked through the door, the two men locked up the doors of the Hi-Fi shop and forced the five hostages into the basement at gunpoint.

Once in the basement, Sherry Machelle Ansley was forced into another room where she was brutally raped. When the perpetrators were finished with her, they forced her and the four other victims to drink Drano before shooting each of them in the head with a 25 caliber gun. Then the two men made off with over $25,000 in stereo equipment. Of the five victims, only Cortney and Orren would survive.

When police arrived on the scene some time later, they were aghast at the brutality of the crimes committed against these people; the manhunt was on, and they would leave no stone unturned until these monsters were brought to justice.

The next day an unnamed informant called in a tip to Ogden City Police with information that would help wrap up the case much sooner than police had anticipated. The informant, an airman stationed at Hill Air Force Base, told police that he had overheard two of his fellow airmen talking about robbing a store and reenacting the violent scenes of the movie, Magnum Force, which the two had seen the night before the murders.

Shortly after receiving the tip, police arrived at the air force barracks and arrested two suspects, William Andrews and Pierre Dale Selby. Later, police would also arrest Keith Roberts, whom apparently had been waiting outside in a car for the two suspects to finish their business on that fateful night.

The story that Orren Walker told at the trial, struck terror into the hearts of all that heard him. Orren Walker recounted the atrocities that he and the other victims were forced to endure at the hands of these killers. Orren witnessed the murder of his twenty year old son, before their attempt to murder him. One of the bullets missed his head, the other just grazing it. When the suspects ran out of bullets, they jammed a pen in his ear and attempted to strangle him before leaving him for dead.

With a severe gunshot wound to the head, and brain damage, Cortney Naisbitt’s survival was nothing short of miraculous. Cortney lay in a coma for days, struggling for his life. His family was told that if he lived, he would probably be a vegetable.

Not only did Cortney survive, but he went on to finish high-school and obtain his pilots license, which had been his life long dream. Cortney’s heroic fight for survival was the subject of Gary Kinder’s 1982 best-seller, “Victim; the Other Side of Murder, which was made into the 1991 TV movie, Aftermath, A Test Of Love, starring Richard Chamberlain.

The court found that Keith Roberts had no role in, or knowledge of the murders, though he was convicted of armed robbery. Roberts was paroled in 1987. Andrews and Selby were found guilty of three counts of aggravated homicide and sentenced to death.

After years of appeals, Selby was executed in 1987; Andrews’ sentence was carried out five years later. Though there was no joy throughout the community at the execution of these two men, neither was there a display of remorse. With their vicious actions, these two men had not only changed the lives of three families, but they changed the life style of an entire town.

Unfortunately, the result of this case would be mass distrust of the black community in Ogden. The people were blamed and mistrusted for something they had nothing to do with; it would take decades for the racial tension to dissipate.

 


Utah Execution Hinges on Issue of Racial Bias

By Dirk Johnson - The New York Times

July 19, 1992

A bitter fight over the definition of murder and the influence of racism, old Mormon teachings and new legal interpretations has come down to this: Should William Andrews live or die?

Mr. Andrews, a black man who is scheduled to be executed on July 30, was not present when his accomplice, also black, shot three white people to death in a robbery in 1974. But he admits that before he left the scene he tortured five people by forcing them to drink Drano, a caustic drain cleaner. Two of them survived, one with serious brain damage.

The Utah Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for Mr. Andrews on Friday, making a total of 18 unsuccessful state and Federal appeals. The last chance appears to be an appeal before the Utah Board of Pardons.

Civil rights advocates say Mr. Andrews received the death penalty even though more notorious white murderers have been allowed to live.

They also note that during the sentencing someone slipped a note to the jury box that read, "Hang the Niggers." The United States Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal for Mr. Andrews in 1988, but Justice Thurgood Marshall issued a dissent, joined by William J. Brennan Jr., in which he called the note slipped to the jury "a vulgar incident of lynch-mob racism reminiscent of Reconstruction days."

Mr. Andrews's lawyers also note that the jury was all-white. Utah has a small black population; currently, blacks make up less than 1 percent of the population. Most of the jurors were Mormons, at a time when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not allow blacks to become priests. Even though that ban has been overturned, it has left a legacy of distrust.

At his trial, Mr. Andrews had a defense lawyer who had recently graduated from law school. 'Raw Case of Racism'

"I've never seen such a raw case of racism," said Stephen Hawkins, a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. "The entire case was infected with racism."

He said a prosecutor had kept a black prospective juror off the jury.

But supporters of the death penalty in this case say Mr. Andrews knew that his actions would result in deaths, a standard for a murder conviction established by Supreme Court rulings. A medical examiner's report stated that the victims would have died from the Drano within 12 hours if they had not been shot first.

"These three victims were pleading for their lives," said Earl Dorius, a former state's attorney who worked on the case. "This was brutal torture."

The victims included a 16-year-old boy, a 19-year-old woman, a 20-year-old man, the father of the 16-year-old, and the mother of the 20-year-old. The father and the 20-year-old man survived, but the younger man suffered brain damage. The attack took place in the Ogden Hi-Fi Shop and came to be known as the "hi-fi killings."

Mr. Andrews's co-defendant, Dale Selby Pierre, who fired the shots, was executed in 1977. According to testimony, Mr. Pierre raped the 19-year-old woman before she was killed.

The robbery and murders horrified Utahans, and rumors were rampant that the crime had its roots in an anti-white movement. The rumors were unfounded. Mr. Andrews and Mr. Pierre were stationed at the Hill Air Force base here at the time. 'I Was Only 19'

Mr. Andrews, who spoke recently by telephone from the Utah State Prison, expressed remorse over his actions, but he said he had not believed that the victims would die.

"I did pour the Drano into the cup," he said. "But it was not with the intent of using it to kill the people. In hindsight, I don't know what I was thinking. I was only 19."

Mr. Hawkins, the lawyer, said Mr. Andrews was guilty of assault, not murder. "Was it assault? Yes," he said. "Has William Andrews paid time for being an accomplice? Yes."

Support for Mr. Andrews has been significantly stronger here among blacks, who have held marches in his support. But some support has come from whites, including Mormons.

Boyer Jarvis, a retired University of Utah professor and a Mormon, wrote in The Salt Lake Tribune that Utah had "an abundance of two kinds of justice -- one for members of the white majority, another for blacks."

At the time Mr. Andrews was sentenced, Utah law did not give jurors the option of sentencing him to life without parole. Since then, the law has been changed to allow that option.

Lawyers for Mr. Andrews asked the Utah Supreme Court for a new sentencing trial that would include the option of life without parole, but the Court ruled that the law could not be applied retroactively.

"During the trial, people in Utah looked at Bill Andrews and only saw a scary-looking black guy," said Tim Ford, another lawyer for Mr. Andrews. "They didn't see a scared 19-year-old kid."

But Mr. Dorius said Mr. Andrews should have exhausted his chances. "For the sake of the families of the victims, I think it's time that the justice system brought this to a close."


485 U.S. 919

William ANDREWS
v.
Kenneth SHULSEN, Warden, et al.

No. 87-5449

Supreme Court of the United States
February 29, 1988

Rehearing Denied April 18, 1988.

See 485 U.S. 1015 .

On petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice MARSHALL, with whom Justice BRENNAN joins, dissenting.

Adhering to my view that the death penalty is in all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, see Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 , 231-241, 2973-2977 (1976) (MARSHALL, J., dissenting), I would grant the petition for certiorari and vacate petitioner's death sentence. Even if I did not hold this view, I would grant the petition because petitioner William Andrews was convicted of murder and sentenced to death under circumstances raising grave concerns of impermissible racial bias. These circumstances include a midtrial incident in which a juror handed the bailiff a napkin with a drawing of a man on a gallows above the inscription, "Hang the Niggers." The District Court in this case refused even to undertake an evidentiary hearing to investigate petitioner's substantial allegations of racial prejudice. The Constitution cannot countenance such indifference and summary treatment when a person's life is at stake.

I

Petitioner was convicted for his role in a multiple murder during the robbery of a hi-fi shop in Ogden, Utah. The ringleader of the crimes, Dale Pierre, was executed last year. Evidence at trial indicated that petitioner had a substantially less active role in the murders than Pierre . The two men entered the shop together and forced five people into the store's basement. There the victims were forced to drink liquid drain cleaner, which induced violent vomiting.

One of the two victims who survived the robbery testified that petitioner said, "I can't do it, I'm scared," and that petitioner left the scene shortly thereafter. Only after petitioner left did Pierre carry out, in particularly gruesome fashion, the multiple murders for which petitioner has been sentenced to die. Pet. for Cert. 3.

The murders understandably attracted substantial attention in the local press and the community from which the jury venire was drawn. The incident also may have generated racist sentiments, inasmuch as the defendants were black people and the victims were white members of the local community. The single black member of the venire was excluded, and an all-white jury was empaneled.

An ugly racial incident involving the jury occurred during the trial. The jury was eating lunch in a separate dining room when a juror presented the bailiff with a drawing that had been made on a napkin. The drawing represented a stick figure hanging on a gallows. Underneath the figure were the words, "Hang the Niggers." The bailiff was unable to say who had made the drawing or how many other jurors had seen it, although he did inform the court that "some of the jurors" had asked him "what the court may do about this." The only action the trial court took in response was to issue a general instruction to the jury to "ignore communications from foolish people." Id., at 9-10, and n. 4.

After petitioner and Pierre were convicted, the court ordered a 5-day recess. The jury was not sequestered. During this time, media coverage of the conviction was widespread and, petitioner alleges, racially inflammatory. Petitioner alleges, for example, that one newspaper ran a false report that petitioner had directed a "Black Power" closed-fist gesture at one of the surviving victims after the verdict was read. Id., at 10. The jury returned for the separate sentencing hearing and voted unanimously to sentence petitioner to death.

In his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, petitioner alleged that adverse publicity and hostile community sentiment had injected racial animus into his trial and undermined his right to a fair trial. The District Court refused to convene an evidentiary hearing to consider this claim. 600 F.Supp. 408, 415-416 (Utah 1984). The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld this refusal with little discussion, stating: " Having reviewed the briefs and the appellate record, we conclude that no hearing is required under the principles of Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293 [ ] (1963), and that the constitutional standard for a fair trial has been met." 802 F.2d 1256, 1260 (1986) (citations omitted).

II

    "This Court has long held that the remedy for allegations of juror partiality is a hearing in which the defendant has the opportunity to prove actual bias." Smith v. Phillips, 455 U.S. 209, 215 , 945 (1982). Such a hearing is, of course, especially vital when the defendant has been condemned to die. In Turner v. Murray, 476 U.S. 28 (1986), the Court vacated a death sentence entered in a case in which the trial court had refused the defendant's request to question the prospective jurors on racial prejudice . The plurality recognized that "in light of the complete finality of the death sentence," the Constitution requires district courts to be especially solicitous of allegations of racial prejudice in capital cases. Id., at 35, 106 S.Ct. at 1688. The plurality therefore vacated the sentence, even though no specific allegations of racial prejudice had been made other than the fact that the case involved a black defendant and a white victim. The Court concluded that "the risk that racial prejudice may have infected petitioner's capital sentencing [was] unacceptable in light of the ease with which that risk could have been minimized." Id., at 36. This case involves far more serious and specific allegations of racial animus than did Turner, including a vulgar incident of lynch-mob racism reminiscent of Reconstruction days. Moreover, petitioner is not asking this Court to decide whether there is sufficient evidence of racial prejudice to impeach the conviction and sentence. He seeks only to have the District Court undertake an evidentiary hearing to consider his charges. I would think it clear that the Constitution, not to mention common decency, requires no less than this modest procedure. See Tanner v. United States, 483 U.S. 107, 142 , 2759 ( 1987) (MARSHALL, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part).

III

Was it one (or more) of petitioner's jurors who drew a black man hanging on a gallows and attached the inscription, "Hang the Niggers"? How many other jurors saw the incendiary drawing before it was turned over to the bailiff? Might it have had any effect on the deliberations? Was the jury's decision to sentence petitioner to die influenced by racially- charged media coverage of the trial between the guilt and penalty phases? These are among the questions that petitioner deserves to have at least considered before he is put to death for a series of murders in which he played only a secondary role. It is conscience shocking that all three levels of the federal judiciary are willing to send petitioner to his death without so much as investigating these serious allegations at an evidentiary hearing. Not only is this less process than due; it is no process at all. I dissent.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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