Ku Klux Klansman Henry Hays is sentenced to death for the 1981 strangulation murder of Michael Donald, a nineteen-year-old Black youth.
1984 (Feb 2)
Mobile County Circuit Court Judge Braxton Kittrell sentenced Ku Klux Klansman Henry Hays to death for the 1981 strangulation murder of Michael Donald, a nineteen-year-old Black youth whose body was found hanging from a tree in downtown Mobile, Alabama. Hays, age twenty-nine, was convicted of capital murder by a jury of eleven Whites and one Black on December 10, 1983. In sentencing Hays to death by electric chair, Judge Kittrell ignored the recommendation of the jury for a life sentence in prison. But Mobile County District Attorney Chris Galanos said there was only “one chance in a million” that the death penalty would stand up on appeal since Donald (who was beaten, slashed across the throat, and found hanging across the street from Hays's house) had been killed four months before Alabama law permitted judges to give a stiffer penalty than that recommended by jurors.