Even in this day and age, it feels rare that a white man will go to prison for killing a Black man, claiming “self-defense” or whatever nonsense.
But in Iowa, it seems like justice was done because a white man by the name of Steven Vogel was convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of Michael Williams, whose Black body was found burning in a ditch one year ago, according to NBC News.
Aside from Vogel, three other people, including Vogel’s mother, were charged with abuse of a corpse and accessory after the fact. Those others have pleaded guilty and have pending cases per the report from NBC News.
Family members of the victim were elated with the verdict that came down.
From NBC News:
Paula Dee Terrell, Williams’ aunt, said Williams’ relatives — several of whom traveled to Iowa for the trial from Syracuse, New York, where Williams, 44, grew up — were overjoyed with the verdict. But they also said authorities minimized the role that race may have played in the murder.
Before Williams’ body was set on fire, authorities said in a news release, he was most likely strangled. But in court, Terrell said, a pathologist from the medical examiner’s office described a rope tied around Williams’ neck — a method that Terrell said recalled a lynching. NBC News has not independently verified Terrell’s claim in the autopsy report.
And during a family meeting at the Grinnell Police Department with the assistant attorney general and other officials in October 2020, Terrell said, her family pushed authorities to pursue the case as a possible hate crime. But the officials said a first-degree murder conviction carried a greater maximum sentence, she recalled them saying.
According to NBC News reports, Adam DeCamp, the special agent in charge at the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, claims there was no evidence that it was a racially-motivated killing. Decamp said Williams was involved with a woman who was with Vogel previously.
I understand Terrell’s push for the murder of her nephew to be charged as a hate crime. Too many times in this country do white men get away with the murder of Black men and do not face the consequences that their crime warrants.
But in this case, Vogel is going to prison for his crimes and hopefully, he spends a long time there.