INSERT: Record of Death, as found in the Shelby County Museum & Archives, indicates George Robinson, age 54 years, husband of Lizzie Robinson, died March 7, 1924 in Shelby County Alabama "Executed – Hanged by Sheriff Shelby County", place of burial Columbiana, date of burial March 7, 1924, undertaker T.R. Walton, informant Joe Fitzpatrick.
George Roberson, the negro who took the life of William Murphy near Columbiana in July of last year, paid for that, and a long list of other crimes, with his life when he was hanged in the Shelby County jail on Friday of last week [March 7th]. The execution took place at 9:30 o'clock and was witnessed by a small number, as prescribed by law.
The condemned negro was brought to Columbiana a few days before that set for his execution and kept under close guard night and day. [Robertson was brought from the Jefferson County jail on Monday, March 3rd.]
At first he seemed stolidity indifferent to his approaching end, but as the time drew near he became restless and begged his guard Deputy Hugh Shaw, to remain with him.
Just before being led to his death Roberson was permitted to make a statement to the large crowd assembled in front of the jail. He talked at length of his "life full of trouble" saying that from the time he was 16 years old up to the time of his arrest last year, he had taken the lives of nine men. He refused to give the names of his victims. In a statement to certain individuals, Roberson is said to have confessed to having taken the lives of 13 men, women and children.
Roberson stated that he had no reason for killing Murphy that Mr. Murphy had never done him any wrong, but that he had intended to kill Louie Verchot because he said, Verchot had "beaten him up" one night in the post office.
Following his statement Roberson walked up stairs and stepped on the death trap without the least show of hesitation. The noose was adjusted by Deputy Frank Fallon and the trap was sprung at exactly 9:30 by Deputy L.P. Godwin. Roberson's neck was broken by the fall and the doctors pronounced him dead in 13 minutes.
This is the first hanging in Shelby County in ten years, a negro Tom Patterson having been hanged during the administration of Sheriff J.H. Fulton (June 13, 1908), and it may be the last legal hanging in Alabama. A recent law provides that in the future men condemned to death shall be electrocuted at the State Penitentiary.
INSERT: Record of Death, as found in the Shelby County Museum & Archives, indicates W.H. Murphy, age 62 years, married, died July 14, 1923 in Shelby County Alabama "Shot with shot gun", date of burial July 15, 1923, undertaker John F. Averyt.
The Peoples Advocate, dated July 19, 1923, Wm. H. Murphy, a farmer who lived about 2 miles west of Columbiana, was shot and killed on the way home from town late Saturday afternoon and robbed of a watch and about $75 in money.
George Robinson, a negro who lived near Murphy, was arrested early Sunday morning charged with the killing. Robinson's two boys, aged 13 and 17, were also arrested and the younger boy stated to the officers that he saw his father do the killing, which statement was in part corroborated by his older brother. Robinson was carried to Birmingham Sunday for safe keeping. His preliminary trial was set to be held today, Thursday, before Justice J.M. Leonard.
Murphy was in Columbiana Saturday afternoon doing some work. He made some purchases and started home about 6 o'clock. When he failed to reach home at the time expected, the family became alarmed and one of his sons started out to look for him. Young Murphy soon found his father's team standing by the road side, the wagon having become fastened to a tree.
The boy with his mother then came to Columbiana for assistance and a party of citizens who went with them found Murphy's body about 10 o'clock, lying in a gully beside the road. He had been shot in the face and had died instantly. Murphy's body was carried to his home and prepared for burial. The funeral service was conducted by Rev. R.L. Durant, was held Sunday afternoon and the remains were interred at Rocky Ridge church yard.
Murphy lived on a farm that he had rented for the past three years from E.W. Chapman. Mr. Chapman states that Murphy was a satisfactory tenant, hard working and square in his dealings.
Robinson, it is stated, has been regarded as a bad negro. He is about 65 years old, and is said to have spent half his life in prison for various crimes.
Sheriff Falkner and his deputies, assisted by state officers, Thos. P. Williamson, made a remarkable record in handling the case. By noon Sunday, less than 18 hours after the crime, they had Robinson in custody and on his way to the Jefferson county jail and has secured statements from his two sons that seem to be a confession of his guilt.