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Cleo Staten


In August 1920, John McClendon, a white man, mysteriously disappeared from his home in Guntersville, Alabama. A week later, his body was found wrapped in a quilt in a nearby cave – he had been shot in the head.
 
Robbery was the suspected motive in the crime, and eight black men were quickly brought in for questioning in McClendon’s murder. Four of these men – Cleo Staten, John Murchison, Jim Hudson, and Willie Crutcher – were charged with and convicted of the crime. They were each sentenced to life in prison. Hudson and Crutcher died within the first several years of their imprisonment.
 
In 1926, six years after John McClendon’s death, his nephew, Otis McClendon, was killed by his cousin in a shooting during a dispute. Upon Otis McClendon’s death, several of his friends and family members came forward to say that Otis had confessed to them that he had killed his uncle, John McClendon. The details provided by these friends and family members convinced police that Otis had, in fact, been involved in his uncle’s killing.
 
Based on the information provided in Otis’s confessions, the police arrested John McClendon’s wife, Myrtle McClendon, for her involvement in the murder of her husband. It was reported that Myrtle’s daughter provided additional incriminating evidence against Myrtle to police. Three months later, Cleo Staten and Willie Crutcher were released on parole.
 
Alabama Governor Bibb Graves pardoned Staten in March 1927, but Staten died several days before the pardon was formally issued. Crutcher was denied a pardon because of his bad conduct while in prison, but he was compensated with $750 by the Kentucky legislature in 1931. 
 
– Meghan Barrett Cousino
State:AL
County:Marshall
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Reported Crime Date:1920
Convicted:1920
Exonerated:1927
Sentence:Life
Race:Black
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:
Contributing Factors: