The Fulford File By James Fulford | Troy Davis, Lawrence Brewer, Wyatt Matthews And The Disparate Death Penalty
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The recent executions of Troy Davis and Lawrence Brewer highlighted differences between the African-American and white communities over the death penalty.

Davis was an African-American who killed policeman Mark MacPhail in Savannah Georgia in front of many witnesses, themselves African-American, and was convicted by a jury which included 7 African-Americans and 5 whites. [Cop-Killer Is Media's Latest Baby Seal, by Ann Coulter, September 21, 2011]

Brewer is one of two white ex-convicts—the other is John William King, still on death row—who got the death penalty for murdering an African-American man named James Byrd in Jasper, Texas in June of 1998.

I don’t know of anyone who supported Lawrence Brewer’s crime, which was murdering a random African-American for no reason. I myself support executing Brewer, and consider it a miscarriage of justice that he’s been alive so long.

Ann Coulter writes:

“The average time on death row is 14 years. Then liberals turn around and triumphantly claim the death penalty doesn't have any noticeable deterrent effect. As the kids say: Duh.”

Davis was on death row for 22 years and Brewer 13, but Davis had much better lawyers and a lot of support from the African-American community.

A black writer on Huffington Post, with the almost-normal name of Trymaine Lee, has said that “the circumstances surrounding these two men could not be more different.”

He’s referring to bogus doubts of Davis’s guilt. But the main difference is that there’s no widespread support in the white community for defending guilty murderers. (Nor, of course, should there be.)

This black enthusiasm for the guilty is evidenced by the OJ case, the Mumia case, and Congresswoman Maxine Waters’s support for fugitive cop killer Joanne Chesimard.

I can quote you chapter and verse on the support for a guilty Mumia from New Jersey journalist Paul Mulshine

"I was pushing buttons on my radio when I happened to tune in to the local Pacifica outlet, WBAI in Manhattan. A Jamaican by the name of Habte Selassie was hosting a reggae show. He mentioned the concert the night before and the allegation that Abu-Jamal was a cop-killer. ‘A cop-killer?’ he said dismissively, ‘Moses was a killer, too. He killed a man in cold blood.’ Then Selassie recited a story from the Bible in which Moses came upon an Egyptian and a Jew fighting and proceeded to slay the Egyptian.

“Justifiable homicide, in other words. There are some Americans who believe there can be a valid reason to shoot a cop between the eyes as he is lying defenseless on the ground. And it is so refreshing when they come right out and say so. "

 [More Mumia Madness,, April 19, 1999]

Joe Sobran, describing the killing of James Byrd, said “Most murders are cruel, but in this case the cruelty was the whole point... Such vicious hatred is almost unfathomable”. And even though Sobran pointed out the circumstances that may have led up to Brewer and King’s hatred of blacks—prison rape—he didn’t attempt to justify the murder. [A psychiatrist had testified King had joined a white prison gang after being attacked.  See Becoming A Devil, by Joseph Sobran, March 4, 1999.]

Here I’d like to mention an earlier legal case, which is less famous, at least partly because it did not involve an execution. This is from The Crime Of Wyatt Matthews, by Joseph A. Rehyansky, National Review, June 29, 1984. It concerns a rape and murder that took place at a US  army base in Grafenwoehr, Germany:

“Phyllis was 29 and beautiful, the wife of an Army career warrant officer helicopter pilot. She had been, for about a month, substituting as a camp librarian, filling in for a woman on maternity leave. Private First Class Wyatt L. Matthews, 22 and, some evidence indicates, mildly retarded as well as alcoholic, had been in the Army for 18 months, in Germany for one.

“None of the following facts is seriously in dispute.

“As Phyllis walked toward the library on the afternoon of February 27, Matthews followed her, attempting to strike up a conversation. She did not reply. Later, in the library, Matthews asked Phyllis for a date. She declined, replying that she was a married woman. He then asked her to find two ‘sexy books’ for him, and she suggested that he try a nearby bookstore. After all, the other patrons had left the library, Matthews asked her to locate for him a book that he apparently knew to be in the rear of the library. Matthews did not follow her at first, instead lingering to remove the door key and library scissors from Phyllis's desk. He wore gloves. After securing the front door, Matthews confronted Phyllis in the back of the library, covered her mouth with his hand, forced her to disrobe or disrobed her himself from the waist down, and raped her.

During the rape Matthews stabbed her with the scissors, which were nine inches long. Fifty-one stab wounds later, Phyllis died, although her assailment stabbed her at least twice more. Carrying her underpants as a trophy, Matthews left the library, forgetting for a time the scissors and a six-pack of beer he had brought in with him; he later returned and coolly retrieved them before the body was discovered.”

“Phyllis” was a white woman named Phyllis Jean Villanueva, born Phyllis Jean Pike in Birmingham, Alabama. Wyatt Matthews, an African American, was from Chester, Pennsylvania, where his family had presumably moved to avoid white Southern racism.

Rehyansky wrote:

“Interestingly enough, the colonel who served as president of the court, functioning as a jury foreman, is black, as are Matthews and the commanding general who ordered the case to trial after an exhaustive investigation. But Phyllis was white, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, The ACLU, and other itinerant officious intermeddlers joined the battle to prevent Matthews from being the first person executed by the military in more than two decades.

Also interestingly, I find that the man who actually was executed “more than two decades” prior to Rehyansky’s 1984 article was John Arthur Bennett, also black, executed in 1961, who had also committed rape in Germany in 1954. He raped an eleven year old Austrian girl, and tried to kill her, but failed. (The Uniform Code of Military Justice and many state laws used to have the death penalty for rape , but this was struck down in Coker v Georgia, . 1977, partly on “disparate impact” grounds.)

And Bennett also has been transformed, posthumously, into a “baby seal”, as Ann Coulter put it. On, [April 13th, 2009] an anti-death penalty site, he’s referred to as

“An epileptic black soldier with a family history of mental illness, Bennett had enlisted to find a way up out of sharecropping. Instead, on Christmas Eve 1954, he drunkenly raped a 12-year-old girl near his base in Austria.

He spent six years awaiting execution—“six years,” observed the Los Angeles Times, “in which six other black soldiers were hanged while all four of the white men—many of them multiple murderers—were saved.”

The LA Times has more of this baby seal stuff: Last Soldier to Die at Leavenworth Hanged in an April Storm, By Richard A. Serrano, July 12, 1994.

But this is the main point about the crime of Wyatt Matthews: in spite of his truly horrible crime, the NAACP and ACLU were willing to spend a lot of time and money to save his life, because he was black.

This is the same thing we see in objections to what left-wing activists like murder/law student Bruce Reilly call the “prison-industrial complex.” They think that because so many criminals are black, that proves there’s something wrong with white society.

It’s the same thing that caused black judge Bruce Wright to become known as “Turn ‘em Loose Bruce”—the belief, to quote his memoir, that in a system where the typical defendant is black, and the typical judge white,  judges are "ignorant of and indifferent to the debased reality of those who are judged."

But perhaps they’re not—perhaps they’re judgmental of the debased reality. After all, being judgmental is what they’re paid for.

In any case, the activists are supportive of the “debased reality” and blame only whites for black crime.

So if you hear anyone trying to prevent one of these executions of a cop-killer because witnesses have been bribed or pressured to recant, ask them if they’d support the execution if they knew that that the killer was guilty.

There’s a peculiar cultural phenomenon I’ve complained about before: when we have a death penalty case, it’s always and only the murderer whose name is mentioned, So most people have never heard of Parmenter And Berardelli, but only of immigrant anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, who killed them. And we never hear of Jack Coler and Ron Williams,  but only of American Indian Leonard Peltier, who killed them.

 Well, for once, Black Entertainment Television has reversed that: James Byrd's Killer Is Also Scheduled for Execution Tonight, By Danielle Wright,, September 21, 2011.

That shows an obvious double standard.

Troy Davis has been sent to his reward: Mother of slain cop says execution of Troy Davis will give her peace, By David Mattingly and John Murgatroyd, CNN, September 17, 2011.

So has Lawrence Brewer, without even finishing his last meal: Texas ends 'last meals' for death row inmates, LA Times, September 23, 2011.

As for Wyatt Matthews, who would be about 55 now, Rehyansky ended his NR piece by saying:

“In any event, he will be with us for a long time, for his needs are met and he is well cared for, at an approximate cost to the taxpayers of $15,000 per year, not including legal costs.

In the meantime, while stratospheric thinkers and rigorous scholars continue to wrestle with the momentous issues, Matthews—serving a life sentence in the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth—more than five years after his crime, lives on and, it now appears, may outlive us all.”

Well, if he’s still in Leavenworth, or anywhere in Federal custody, I can’t find him with the Federal inmate locator.

The only thing I can find—the Matthews story is severely undercovered—is this 1988 clip from the Houston Chronicle’s national news briefs:

 Murderer may be freed

October 31, 1988

“BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - An Army private whose death penalty for murder became the first such sentence reduced by President Reagan may now get out of prison after only 10 years behind bars.

Pfc. Wyatt L. Matthews, 32, of Chester, Pa., was convicted by a military court of raping Phyllis Jean Villanueva, 29, of Birmingham and stabbing her 53 times with a pair of scissors on Feb. 27, 1979. She was an Army wife in West Germany working in a library when she was killed. “

So if you’re a librarian in Chester, Pa, watch out.

James Fulford [Email him] is a writer and editor at

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