The Case that Shocked the Country (subtitled: The unquiet deaths of Vida Robare and Alexander McClay Williams – the youngest person in Pennsylvania to die in the electric chair – for a crime he did not commit) recounts an actual 1930 murder case in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. This stunning story sent shockwaves across the country as it flashed across newspaper headlines as far away as Texas, California, and Canada. It is a compelling combination of legal history, a real life murder mystery, and a 30 year quest for justice for a long forgotten 16-year-old African American youth buried in an unmarked grave, who remains the youngest known person, to date, to die in Pennsylvania’s electric chair.
The case of Alexander McClay Williams is a cautionary tale of what can result when systemic racism taints the criminal justice system, as the dynamics of this case are as crucial and applicable today as they were when these events unfolded 87 years ago. This book is a must read for those interested in the law, capital punishment, juvenile justice, African American history, and how the descendants of three seemingly unrelated families intertwined to try to overturn a monumental injustice for the last surviving sibling of Alexander McClay Williams.