25 March 1995 – Hernando Williams

Was Hernando Williams tried fairly? He was at the mercy of an all-white jury, who ultimately chose his fate. As a result, there will always be doubts in the eyes of those Americans who believe in endemic racism.

Apparently the Illinois prosecutors rejected 11 black people, before finally settling on an exclusively white set of jurors.

But maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference.

Shoot and booted

The facts of the case emerged that an instructor who taught natural childbirth techniques, Linda Goldstone, was abducted on her way to the hospital where she taught. She was forced at gunpoint to climb into the boot of a car where she was incarcerated for four days and intermittently raped before finally being shot.

Williams was found guilty of the crimes. But one of the key factors was that he was on bail at the time – which came with a hefty $25,000 price tag, so we’re not talking a slight misdemeanour here. No, it was kidnap and rape…and that was already sounding unconfortably familiar. Apparently, according to one report, he even wound up at a court hearing with Goldstone still stashed away in his boot.

Unlucky escape

But just how unlucky is this? After a few days, Williams apparently set Goldstone free after she pleaded that she wouldn’t shop him if he let her go. So he did, even giving her bus fare home. However, instead of legging it, Goldstone fatefully went to a nearby house and asked for help – a fire-fighter heard her story, but crucially left her on his doorstep while he called the police. After all, you can never be too careful – how did he know she was telling the truth?
But Goldstone was telling the truth and that decision to leave her cost her life. A disbelieving Williams apparently tracked her down and saw her talking to the fire-fighter. When the door closed, he dragged her off and shot her twice before scarpering.

He was persuaded to plead guilty in the hope that the judge would be lenient – but there was no hope. He was found guilty and sentenced to the lethal injection. The 40-year-old was put down in 1995, just four days shy of the 18-year anniversary of Goldstone’s abduction.

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