Virginia Christian First Woman Executed in Virginia
Belote frequently mistreated Christian, and in mid- March 1912, an argument ensued between the two in which Belote accused Christian of stealing a locket and a skirt. Belote hit Christian with a cuspidor, commonly called a 'spittoon'. The altercation escalated when Christian and Belote ran for two broom handles Belote used to prop up her bedroom windows. Christian grabbed one of the broom handles and struck Belote on the forehead. In an attempt to stifle Belote’s screams, Christian stuffed a towel down Belote’s throat, and the woman died by suffocation. When Christian left the house, she stole Belote’s purse with some money and a ring. One newspaper reported that police found Belote’s body “laying face down in a pool of blood, and her head was horribly mutilated and a towel was stuffed into her mouth and throat”. (Streib & Sametz, 1989, p. 25; see also Moten, 1997)
Police soon arrested Christian, and during questioning she admitted to hitting Belote but was shocked that Belote was dead. Christian claimed she had no intent to kill Belote. With a lynch mob looming in the background, an Elizabeth City County Court tried and convicted Christian for murder and the trial judge sentenced her to death in the state’s electric chair. One day after her 17th birthday in August 1912, a short five months after the crime, Virginia authorities executed Christian at the state penitentiary in Richmond.
Governor William Hodges Mann declined to commute the death sentence, despite a plea from Virginia's mother, Charlotte Christian, who wrote to him:
My dear mr governor
Please for give me for Bowing low to write you a few lines: I am the mother of Virginiany Christian. I have been pairalized for mor then three years and I could not and Look after Gennie as I wants too. I know she dun an awful weaked thing when she kill Miss Belote and I hear that the people at the penetintry wants to kill her but I is praying night and day on my knees to God that he will soften your heart so that She may spend the rest of her days in prison. they say that the whole thing is in yours Hands and I know Governer if you will onely save my child who is little over sixteen years old God will Bless you for ever … If I was able to come to see you I could splain things to you better but I cant do nothing but pray to God and ask him to help you to simpithise with me and my truble
I am your most umble subgeck,
Christian was electrocuted in the state prison in Richmond. She was 17 years old. The paper reported that her body was to be turned over to the state medical school, because her parents did not have the money to transport the body from Richmond.
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