Originally created 01/30/97

Jury recommends death sentences for serial killer Wallace



CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A jury recommended nine death sentences Wednesday for former fast-food worker and serial killer Henry Louis Wallace for each of the Charlotte women he raped and murdered.

Jurors deliberated about 14 hours over four days in Mecklenburg County Superior Court before recommending the death sentences for Mr. Wallace, who confessed to the crimes.

Mr. Wallace addressed the court after the verdicts were read and Judge Robert Johnston had approved the death penalty recommendations.

Reading from a prepared three-page statement, Mr. Wallace expressed remorse for what happened and said he wished he could bring all the women back to life if that meant giving up his life.

"What words in any language can I say to you to comfort you or free you from this mental prison I put you in?" he said.{, ad-

dressing the gallery.} "I'm sorry. I apologize I didn't mean to do it....

{"... }"None of these women, your daughters, your sisters or your children, in any way deserved what they got. They did nothing to me to warrant their deaths."

Several family members of the victims began sobbing as Mr. Wallace spoke. When Mr. Wallace finished, George Burrell, the cousin of victim Brandi Henderson, yelled, "Why did you kill them?"

The sister of victim Caroline Love, Kathy Love, screamed out and lunged toward Mr. Wallace. Sheriff's deputies grabbed her and carried her out of the courtroom.

His death sentences will be automatically appealed.

Mr. Wallace, 31, admitted killing the nine women between June 1992 and his arrest in March 1994.

The verdict recommendations were read by the court clerk and taken from the jury foreman at 12:15 p.m. After the verdicts were read, the foreman was asked whether the jury agreed with them.

As the first death sentence was announced, Judy Williams, a family member of{Wallace} murder victim Shawna Hawk, shouted out "yes,"{leaned over} and began to cry.

Defense attorneys requested that the jurors would be polled on the verdicts individually.

The seven-woman, five-man jury convicting Mr. Wallace three weeks ago of 27 felonies - including nine counts of first-degree murder and eight counts of first-degree rape - and two misdemeanors. During the first phase of the trial, jurors heard all 10 hours of Mr. Wallace's taped confession to police.

Judge Johnston will sentence Mr. Wallace on the other 20 charges.

The jury had a choice between recommending a sentence of death or life in prison.

While deliberating, jury members weighed aggravating factors presented by the prosecution and mitigating factors presented by the defense in each of the nine murder cases to determine his sentence.

Aggravating factors include such things as whether the murders were "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel" or whether they were part of a "course of conduct."

Mitigating factors claimed by the defense include Mr. Wallace's mental illness and socioeconomic factors from his youth such as sexual abuse, exposure to pornography and abject poverty.

Defense attorneys last week during closing arguments asked the jury to spare Mr. Wallace's life, saying revenge should not be their motive for imposing the death penalty. Prosecutors said Mr. Wallace deserved a death sentence and called him a manipulator who deceived the nine friends he raped and murdered.

His trial began in early November.

During sentencing deliberations, jurors requested and received transcripts of Mr. Wallace's police confessions, his school and military records, medical records and reports prepared by expert witnesses for the defense. They later requested a roll of masking tape. They did not explain the request.

Experts called Mr. Wallace a completely new kind of serial killer.

Young, black and addicted to crack cocaine, the Navy veteran who bounced around from job to job at fast-food restaurants and preyed on his friends did not fit the stereotype of most serial killers.

His differences from typical serial killers may have helped him avoid suspicion for months, even though his name appeared in the address books of some of his victims. Mr. Wallace went to police with the sister of victim Caroline Love to turn in a missing person report.

Mr. Wallace was arrested in March of 1994, when police solved the puzzle after four young women were slain in their homes in the same working-class neighborhood of the city.

Mr. Wallace has not yet been tried for two other killings, one in the Charlotte area and another in South Carolina.

Mr. Wallace becomes the 164th person on North Carolina's death row. Seven inmates have been executed since the state's revised death penalty law went into effect in 1977. None of the inmates executed was black.