Black 'murderer' who did not kill faces needle of death

UNLESS there is an unexpected last- minute change of heart, the state of Utah will have administered a lethal injection early today to William Andrews, a black man who was convicted of murder even though he did not kill anyone.

The execution will constitute an ugly final chapter to a case which has attracted international attention, not least because Utah, which has only a small black population, generally does not execute white murderers.

While many details of the case are bitterly disputed, no one disputes that Andrews, 37, was party to a hideous crime. It happened in April, 1974, when six black men drove two vans into a hi-fi store in Ogden, Utah, intending to rob it. For four hours Andrews and an accomplice, Dale Selby Pierre, brutalised and tortured the shop's three employees and two other people. Pierre made them drink a highly caustic drain-cleaning fluid which Andrews, then 19, poured into cups. Pierre kicked a ballpoint pen into the ear of one victim.

Andrews was not present during the murders. He had left the room when Pierre shot the victims, killing three of them. This fact has been central to Andrews' defence, but it did not impress the country's judiciary. Both federal and state courts have ruled that criminals who do not physically kill, but who play a major role in a murder, can be executed. Both were subsequently condemned; Pierre was executed in 1987.

Civil liberties groups, which have led a campaign to save Andrews' life, have emphasised that the jury that convicted him were all white, and most were Mormons - at a time when the church did not allow blacks to become ministers. The trial was also marred by a particularly nasty, and potentially prejudicial, incident in which someone slipped a note to a juror during sentencing which read: 'Hang the Nigger's' (sic).

The Andrews case has become the focus of intense passions in Utah, where blacks (who comprise less than 1 per cent of the population) have held numerous protest marches. The racial overtones are strong - the defendants were all black; the victims, police, judge, jury and prosecutor were all white. The only black person in the jury pool was excluded. The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People has said the whole case is 'infected with racism'. They, and others, have emphasised that white murderers in Utah almost always get a life sentence with parole.

Andrews' lawyers have filed numerous appeals, and received a letter of support from the Pope. But it appears that the cries of outrage have been to no avail. On Tuesday the US Supreme Court voted 7-2 to reject an appeal. An hour later, the state's Supreme Court voted 4-1 against an application for a stay of execution, although it ordered Utah's Board of Pardons to provide details of its reasons for refusing Andrews a second clemency hearing - a manoeuvre which could prompt the board itself to apply for a stay.

Some support for Andrews has come from whites, including Mormons. Boyer Jarvis, a retired professor, who is a Mormon, wrote to The Salt Lake Tribune, saying that Utah had 'two kinds of justice - one for members of the white majority, another for blacks'. Early today the world will discover whether Mr Jarvis is, tragically, right.

News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Life and Style
fashionLidl to launch a new affordable fashion range
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – Up to £43k

£35000 - £43000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Principal Arboricultural Consultant

£35000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Principal Arboricu...

Trainee Digital Forensic Analyst

£17000 - £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Trainee Digital Fo...

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment