Originally created 05/29/03

10th defendant sentenced in Aiken woman's 1969 race-riot killing

YORK, Pa. -- A white man who pleaded no contest to attempted murder and conspiracy in the 1969 murder of a young black woman during 10 days of race riots in York was sentenced to prison Wednesday for his role in the slaying.

Ezra T. Slick, 53, was sentenced to two to five years by York County Common Pleas Judge John C. Uhler, the last of 10 white men charged in the July 21, 1969 slaying of Lillie Belle Allen, of Aiken, S.C.

Investigators are not working on any more arrests in the case, prosecutor Timothy Barker said.

"We've exhausted all the leads that we have and we have not received any new information with regard to this case," Barker said. "If new information comes forward, we will investigate it then."

The cases of Allen and a white police officer mortally wounded during the riots lay dormant until 1999, when new information surfaced.

In an interview with police on Feb. 28, 2002, Slick told investigators that he fired a handgun four times in the direction of the car in which Allen and four family members were riding, according to police affidavits. The interview came a day after a witness identified Slick in court as having fired a pump shotgun at the vehicle.

Slick was arrested last July and sent to prison on an unrelated probation violation. He had contended that he was too drunk to clearly remember what happened the night Allen was slain.

Of the 10 men charged with murder in the case, six pleaded guilty to lesser charges. Two men, Robert Messersmith and Gregory Neff, were convicted in October of second-degree murder and sentenced in December.

Former York Mayor Charlie Robertson, who was a police officer in 1969, also was charged, but was acquitted by the same jury. He had been accused of inciting whites to violence against blacks and supplying ammunition to white gang members.

The riots raged for 10 days, leaving two dead, dozens wounded and whole blocks burned before 400 state troopers and national guards with tanks arrived to quell the violence.

Allen, 27, was gunned down on the fifth day of rioting.

Three days before, a rookie white policeman, Henry Schaad, also was shot and killed during the riots while he was patrolling a black neighborhood in an armored police truck. Schaad, 22, died two weeks later.

Two black men, Leon Wright and Stephen Freeland, were convicted in March of second-degree murder in that slaying.


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