Friday, November 17, 2017

Clarence Lowman
 
Substantially less is known about the two remaining fourteen-year-olds who were sentenced to death in South Carolina pre-Furman. Clarence Lowman received a death sentence in 1925 for the murder of Aiken County Sheriff Henry H. Howard.  Howard and several of his deputies were  (according to the surviving deputies) attempting to execute a search warrant at the home of Sam Lowman, a relative of Clarence's, when Howard was shot and killed.  In the ensuing gun battle, Annie Lowman, Sam's wife, was killed.  Clarence and his cousins, Demon and Bertha Lowman, were charged with Howard's murder.  Howard's funeral was attended by more than sixteen hundred people, and then-governor Thomas McLeod gave the eulogy.  There was a silent procession of approximately seventy-five hooded and robed Ku Klux Klan members that marched two by two behind Howard's casket from the funeral home to the Aiken County Courthouse.  The co-defendants' joint trial commenced on May 12, 1925, just seventeen days after the incident.  All three were convicted by an all-white male jury.  Clarence and Demon were sentenced to death; Bertha's life was spared but she was sentenced to life imprisonment.  The South Carolina Supreme Court reversed the convictions and sentences, concluding that a new trial was necessary due to the community unrest and inadequate instructions on the issue of whether the Lowmans conspired to kill the lawman.  Demon Lowman's retrial was first, and the trial judge directed a verdict of not guilty at the conclusion of the prosecution's case.  Later that evening, the three Lowmans were dragged from their cells by an angry white mob, taken to a wooded area and shot to death.  While the new Sheriff Nollie Robinson testified at an inquest that he tried to fight off--but was ultimately overwhelmed by--the lynch mob, an investigation conducted by the NAACP shortly after the three were murdered revealed that Sheriff  Robinson was the actual leader of the vigilantes and the architect of the lynching. 

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