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The sentence: Death. Other times he had night terrors and was hard to wake.

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The family history was replete with alcoholism, hypertension and mental illness, and Bennett suffered from epilepsy. He fathered a baby out of wedlock before he left to join the Army. Baseball was his greatest passion.

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For recreation he would throw a baseball at the prison walls, slamming it so hard that it would bounce right back. Each year another black soldier was taken out to the gallows. The military appellate courts confirmed his death sentence. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the death warrant. The federal courts in Kansas and Washington refused to reopen his case.

Project MUSE - African American Review-Volume 45, Number 3, Fall

Twice he was given last-minute stays of execution, once while he was eating what was to be his last meal. A third date was set: a minute after midnight on April 13, Bennett found a civil rights attorney from Danville, Va.


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Williams, who uncovered new evidence suggesting his client might have been having a seizure at the time of the offense. In Washington, officials debated how best to proceed. Alan Todd, race was an overriding issue. They also thought that if the Army could contact the victim and her family and the family would agree to mercy, then maybe Bennett should not be hanged.

After closely considering the appeals, Kennedy still did not act. In one final shot on his last day, Bennett wired the President.

Black Soldier of Mercy

The President, busy with world events, did not reply. The word came just after Bennett had finished a final dinner of fried shrimp, fresh frozen peaches and his favorite, hot rolls and biscuits.

He was whisked from his cell and into the rain and up the scaffold. He had been so afraid of rainstorms, and so by his side hurried the Rev. Thomas Carter, the prison chaplain, using a penlight to read--shout, actually--the 23rd and 46th Psalms as they rushed Bennett to the arms of the executioner. About Us.

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