In the age of the anti-critical race theory, book banning movement, comparing your client to a character from “To Kill a Mockingbird” in the courtroom is a slippery slope. However, this very action determined the fate of a Black man charged in a cold case from decades ago.
Alvin Ray Allen, 65, was charged in the murder of a 19-year-old white woman, Sandra Elaine Williams, back in 1980. Authorities said she was raped and stabbed over 15 times miles away from her home in Mobile, Ala. Allen originally wasn’t a suspect in the crime and the case eventually went cold, per Law & Crime. However, investigators agreed to the family’s pleas to test the DNA again which resulted in a match to Allen.
The defense argued Allen and Williams had a consensual relationship and that this case was none other than a perpetuation of the racist “Black men prey on white women” trope. Though, in closing, the attorney took the argument a fictional step further.
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The day before, the condemned man’s defense attorney compared him to Tom Robinson, the wrongfully accused Black character defended by Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
In the book, considered a classic of modern literature and one of the most trenchant observations of race relations in America, Robinson is convicted by a racist Alabama jury despite knowing that he is innocent of the crime he had been accused of – raping a white woman.
Defense attorney Dennis Knizley acknowledged some reticence to compare himself to Finch, according to a courtroom report by Mobile-based Fox affiliate WALA. This time, the defense attorney argued, the jury deciding the man’s fate was different from the jury in the book.
“You’re going to be fair and just, and you’re going to follow the rules,” Knizley said.
In response, the report says the prosecution argued Allen would have been arrested already if they had the technology they have now to test and re-test DNA evidence. Allen was previously put on trial for this crime in 2019 but the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict.
This go round, the jury only took 30 minutes to come back with a guilty verdict, per FOX10 TV. Allen faces 10 years to life in prison.