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Peerless explains how Charles Wakefield’s jury came together and the disconnect between the jury that sent him to Death Row and the peers he knew prior to his conviction. For more, read the show notes or listen to the episode above.

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the JURY

When prosecutors and Charles Wakefield, Jr.’s defense attorneys picked the jury for the trial, they began with 31 jurors.

Judge Frank Eppes disqualified four jurors because they said they didn’t believe in the death penalty and would never consider it as a punishment. Under the law, a juror’s refusal to consider capital punishment disqualified him or her to serve on a jury in which the death penalty was a possible punishment.

Here’s a quick review of each of the 31 potential jurors.

FirstMiddleLastDOBRACE
JimmyRayBiddle11/23/1945W
JamesLewisBurgin11/14/1937W
GaryTuckerCheek, Jr.7/29/1950W
SulaMaeCox6/2/31W
TerryDonaldElledge10/5/1949W
IrisClardyEllis3/13/1936W
LouiseO.Eubanks7/28/1934W
WilliamNelsonPoe, Sr.5/27/1921W
DaleDawsonSharpton4/4/1944W
JesseL.Wallace1/26/1904W
MiriamWieckowski6/26/1920W
MyraP.Winchester11/8/1925W
BenjaminW.Adams9/2/1909W
PeggyJoCarr2/15/1933W
RobertE.Farrar7/16/1909W
MargaretCarrollGamble1/21/1907W
Lillian LeeKnightGarraux6/14/1901W
LoisL.HarrisW
MargaretAliceHolloway1926W
AlgieD.Hooper10/24/1910W
RogerKerwinMcCrary4/18/1931W
FredMiller12/25/1917W
ElizabathK.Mitchell7/10/1916W
RalphW.Mullinax3/26/1912W
LeroyPyles9/2/1912B
Annie MaeCraigRichards9/28/1908W
WilliamGraysonRoddy7/17/1906W
MargaretA.Rodgers8/22/1914W
BobOliverSmith, Jr.U
JamesH.WardW
MaryW.White8/13/1924W

Judge Eppes disqualified Roddy, Smith, Miller, and White because they refused to consider capital punishment as an option for punishment. He excused Peggy Carr because she had two children whose care for which she was responsible.

After seating the jury and hearing an afternoon of testimony, Eppes also excused 54-year-old Elizabeth Mitchell after she left her court-ordered sequestration to look after her dogs.

Wakefield’s defense attorneys used their strikes to dismiss 11 jurors.

Map showing jurors’ homes in relation to traditionally black neighborhoods in Greenville

Prosecutor Billy Wilkins dismissed two jurors, Margaret Holloway and Leroy Pyles. Holloway initially said she didn’t believe in the death penalty, but upon further questioning said she would consider it. Pyles initially struggled to understand Judge Eppes’ questions, and Solicitor Wilkins excused him.

Pyles was the only qualified juror who was also black.

Ultimately, Judge Eppes seated 13 jurors (12 jurors and an alternate). After Eppes excused Elizabeth Mitchell to take care of her dogs, the jury was made up of six white men and six white women.

In the graphic below, you’ll find their names and ages.

If you want to research just like we did on Murder, etc., start with Newspapers.com.
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willie EARLE

In 1947, Greenville attempted to prosecute 31 men, most of them cab drivers, for the lynching of Willie Earle.

Earle had been accused of killing Thomas Watson Brown. Within 24 hours of Earle’s arrest, dozens of men snatched him from the Pickens County Jail and killed him.

In a high-profile trial, a jury acquitted all 31 defendants.

Press release from Senator Strom Thurmond condemning Willie Earle lynching

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Show notes:

Peerless reveals how the jury in the Charles Wakefield, Jr. trial came together and discusses the racial dynamics of Greenville, SC in 1976.

Wakefield and his family discuss their lives prior to Wakefield’s arrest and conviction.

Greenville city leaders and historians explain the city’s past and future.

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Featured interviews in Peerless

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Amber Galea

Fascinating school integration story, thank you! GCS is still reeling with racism today. GCS teachers punish students by giving them “referrals.” Teachers were told at a training this year, that last school year teachers gave more referrals than the entire county student population. Over 70,000 referrals. And you know which students got those referrals. The district is asking teachers to do better, but providing no anti-racism training.

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