The unquiet deaths of Vida Robare,
and Alexander McClay Williams
the youngest person in Pennsylvania to die
in the electric chair for a crime he did not commit.
By Samuel Michael Lemon, Ed.D
On June 8, 1931, a 16 year old African American teenager – Alexander McClay Williams – became the youngest person to date, to be executed in Pennsylvania’s electric chair for a crime that he could not possibly have committed. Now, 86 years later, a hearing has been scheduled to request his conviction be expunged. Criminal defense attorney Robert C. Keller, Esq., a former Delaware County Assistant District Attorney and now Senior Partner at Keller, Lisgar & Williams, LLP, will represent Alexander at court. William H. Ridley, Esq. (1867- 1945) was Alexander’s original defense attorney. Alexander’s sole surviving sibling and family members will attend.
The hearing will be held in Courtroom #3 at the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, at the Media Court House, on Friday, March 10, 2017. Interested members of the public are encouraged to arrive early – by 8:30 am. In the interest of justice, public participation in this case matters.
Dr. Lemon’s e-book, based on over 30 years spent researching this case, is scheduled to be published on March 23, 2017, after the results of the hearing are known. That date commemorates the 126th anniversary of William H. Ridley’s admission to the Delaware County Bar as its first attorney of color. Ridley would remain the Bar’s only member of color for the next 50 years.
Philadelphia’s Fox 29 TV News is currently working on a story about the case, to be aired before the hearing. That air date will be announced soon.