Tuesday, April 01, 2008

M. W. Chenault, 44, Gunman Who Killed Mother of Dr. King

I had heard about this in class today. It's just worth sharing. And I didn't realize that he died over a decade ago as this story was from 1995. My professor made it seem like it happened today. From NY Times...
Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr., who killed the mother of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at a Sunday service in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta in 1974, died on Saturday at a hospital in the Atlanta suburb of Riverdale. He was 44.

Mr. Chenault was serving a life sentence at the state prison in Jackson, Ga., when he suffered a stroke on Aug. 3. He never regained consciousness, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Within weeks of the slaying of Mrs. King and a 69-year-old church deacon, Edward Boykin, on June 30, 1974, Mr. Chenault was tried, convicted and sentenced to die in the electric chair. He said he had acted out of hatred for Christianity and because his god had told him to. His lawyers said he was insane.

The sentence was upheld on appeal but he was resentenced to life in prison two months ago, partly because of the King family's strong opposition to the death penalty.

Mr. Chenault, the son of a middle-class black family in Dayton, Ohio, had just been welcomed to the church for a morning service when he rose from his seat in the front pew, drew two pistols and started firing.

Alberta King, 70, was fatally struck at the church's new organ as she was playing "The Lord's Prayer." Mr. Boykin was standing nearby when he was shot. One woman among the 400 worshippers was wounded.

At his arraignment, Mr. Chenault told a magistrate that he had come to Atlanta "on a mission," and said he decided months earlier that black ministers were a menace to black people and must be killed.

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