• Nicole Favela

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Mary Helen Kendrick Williams murder 6/22/1968 Shelby, NC *Robert Roseboro convicted, sentenced to death; Death sentence overturned, sentenced to life in prison*

From Roseboro’s appeal: In substance, the evidence disclosed that on June 22, 1968, the deceased, Mary Helen Kendrick Williams, a white woman, operated “Mary’s Custom Towel Outlet” in Shelby, Cleveland County. The one story shop had three doors, one on the north and one on the south of the building, and a double door for loading on the east. The north and south doors apparently had glass panels. The double door on the east was secured from the inside by a 2×4 resting in hooks attached to the door facings. The main room of the shop contained display tables. There was a bathroom located off the display room.

Mrs. Lola Williams, mother-in-law of Mary Helen Kendrick Williams, called the towel shop over the telephone at 10:45 on the morning of June 22, 1968. Mary Helen answered. She seemed busy and the mother-in-law did not engage her in any further conversation.

At approximately 11:15 a.m., Mrs. Alberghini, a prospective customer, found the entrance door locked. Through the glass she saw a person, whom she identified as the defendant, inside the display room. She banged on the door in order to ascertain whether the shop would be opened. She turned away for a moment to speak to her daughter who was in an automobile parked near the door. When she looked again, the person inside had disappeared. “. . . I saw him . . . on the floor, looking around a table. . . . His face was right on the floor. . . .” The witness went to a place of business next door and had the police notified.

Officers Blankenship and Lowery arrived at about 11:30. They found all doors locked or barred. They saw the defendant inside the shop with a pistol in his hand. They also saw a human body and blood on the floor. They commanded the defendant to come out with his hands up. Instead, he concealed himself in the building. The officers then broke open a window and threw in a tear gas bomb. After a short interval, the defendant, forced out by the fumes, surrendered. He was unarmed. He had a bunch of keys in his pocket and a cigarette lighter with the letters “Bob” engraved thereon.

As soon as the fumes permitted, the officers entered the building. They found the nude body of Mrs. Williams behind one of the display tables. The body was warm and covered with blood.

The autopsy conducted by Dr. Gentry, a Pathologist, disclosed “gaping” head wounds and four penetrating stab wounds in the chest, and one in the abdomen. The chest wounds were five or more inches deep, two had penetrated the heart. In the opinion of Dr. Gentry, the stab wounds in the chest caused death.

A search of the room disclosed a part of a broken pistol grip near the body. The articles of clothing which the victim wore to work that morning were found on the floor of the bathroom. The undergarments were in disarray. Some were turned wrongside out. Near the clothing, the officers found a pair of sun glasses, a pocket knife and a pistol with the grip broken. The broken part found near the body fitted the broken grip of the pistol found in the bathroom.

A State’s witness testified that three days before the killing, he saw in the defendant’s possession a knife similar to the one discovered in the bathroom and introduced in evidence. A clerk, who worked in Blanton’s Variety Store near the shop, testified that about 9:30 or 10:00 on the morning of the homicide, she sold the defendant a pair of sun glasses. She exhibited to the jury a card which held eleven pairs of sun glasses — one space was empty. The witness stated the only sale from the card was made to the defendant. When asked whether the glasses found in the shop and introduced in evidence were the glasses she sold the defendant, she replied, “Yes, sir, I think they are.”

The victim’s daughter identified the cigarette lighter with the engraving “Bob” is belonging to her mother. This lighter was taken from the defendant’s pocket after his surrender. The three keys also taken from the defendant’s pocket were held together by two rings. One of the keys unlocked the south door, a second unlocked the north door, and the third unlocked the shop’s cash register.

An expert in blood analysis testified that the blood splotches found on the defendant’s clothing were of group A, the same type as the victim’s blood.

State of North Carolina v Robert Louis Roseboro 1970 (conviction and sentence affirmed)
State of North Carolina v Robert Louis Roseboro 1971 (conviction affirmed; sentence overturned)
Wikipedia: Murder of Brenda Sue Brown


Offender Number: 0352140
Inmate Status: ACTIVE
Gender: MALE
Ethnic Group: UNKNOWN
Birth Date: 04/30/1953
Age: 63
Current Location: LANESBORO C.I.



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