January 6, 1931: Like the two other notorious American cases from 1931, this needs no citations. The married white woman Dorothy Skaggs claims to have been attacked, robbed and raped by a Negro in Upton Lane, Norfolk, Virginia in the early evening. The following day, William Harper is arrested on an unrelated assault charge, and confesses. Harper is none too bright, but is found sane on January 12, and a trial date is set for January 15, although it actually opens on January 28. He is found guilty, and on January 29, is sentenced to death. His lawyer moves for a new trial, this motion is granted, and a new trial is scheduled for March 5.

By the time the retrial started, there was literally an avalanche of new evidence, including from W.P. Kidd, the lover of the faux victim! There was also evidence that she suffered from delusions. Harper was found not guilty, and Dorothy Skaggs was indicted for perjury.


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