by John Grooms
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 Wallaces 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 dont know Wallace, and I dont 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. Thats 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 Gods 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 its 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 polices attitude was, essentially, So what else is new? The victims werent 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, hadnt been at work, the serial killer would no doubt have been caught sooner, and at least a few young womens 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 states population combined. Here are some of Wallace's murdered victims: