Army Pvt. John Bennett Executed by Hanging at U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth for Raping White Girl in Austria (April 13, 1961)

Photo by Shane Aldendorff on

“John Bennett, a black man, was hanged for raping a white girl in Austria. During the six years between his trial and death, eight other soldiers were executed, all of them black. Six white prisoners were on death row during those years. Some had killed little girls or had killed more than once. None were executed. President Dwight Eisenhower commuted the sentences of four. Two were spared by the courts. Today, six soldiers are on military death row–four black, one Asian, one white.” (update: 4 soldiers are on death row now)

Evidence in Bennett’s case revealed mental defects in the young man and his family, defects that today would probably spare his life. He also almost certainly suffered from epilepsy, which his defenders cited as further evidence of mental illness. Even Dr. Karl Menninger, the country’s preeminent psychiatrist, twice sought to save the life of this ‘undistinguished epileptic Negro soldier.The court-martial was held in Austria. The trial lasted five days, with little defense. The jury deliberated just 25 minutes.

Read more from Richard A. Serrano (LA Timeshere or here and check out Serrano’s book ‘Summoned at Midnight: A Story of Race and the Last Military Executions at Fort Leavenworth’ here.

Related Links:
Pvt John Arthur Bennett (April 13, 1961)
Pvt. John Bennett is the Only U.S. Soldier Executed for Rape in Peacetime
Pvt. John Bennett Is the Only U.S. Soldier Executed for Rape in Peacetime
Bush OKs Execution for Army Private on Death Row 
1961: John A. Bennett, the last American military execution (so far)
The Rare Case Of The Military Execution 
A look at the last U.S. soldier executed by the military 
Soldiers Sentenced to Die, but No Executions on Military Death Row Since 1961 
A look at the 6 inmates on US military death row
Servicemen on Death Row; 6 killers await as mil­i­tary jus­tice crawls
Judge lifts execution stay for ex-soldier in military prison
U.S. Military Could Execute Ex-Soldier for First Time Since 1961 
Army moves closer to first execution in 50 years; Ronald Gray on death row since 1988 
These are the 4 inmates on the military’s death row 
Haunted by the Story of John Bennett and Other Black Soldiers’ Lives on Death Row
Resuming federal executions unlikely to affect military death row
Summoned at Midnight: A Story of Race and the Last Military Executions at Fort Leavenworth 
Crimelines True Crime Podcast w/ Death’s Door Podcast Featured the Last Military Execution of Army Private John Bennett in 1961 (April 22, 2018)
Four U.S. Service Members on Military Death Row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Army Private John Bennett was Last Military Execution by Hanging in 1961
Seven Intriguing True Crime Podcasts Spotlighting Active Duty Military Suicide, Missing, and Murder Cases

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