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William Awbrey

On August 4, 1931, W.E. Hays, Post Master in Franks, Oklahoma, was assaulted and robbed of $28.72. The money was the property of the Post Office Department of the United States. Hays, who was badly beaten on his face and head, stated he was assaulted by two men and identified one of them as William Awbrey. He failed to identify Emmett Poe, but Poe’s knife was found at the crime scene and another witness testified that Poe had previously asked him to commit the robbery with him.

Awbrey was arrested by the sheriff of Pontotoc County in Ada, Oklahoma on August 6. At the direction of C.E. Zurmehly, Post Office Inspector, he was turned over to the United States Commissioner in Ada for violation of the United States Postal Law and Regulations of 1924. Poe was later arrested.

On October 15, Awbrey and Poe were found guilty of conspiring to enter and rob a post office, fined $1.00, and sentenced to three years in the United States Penitentiary of Leavenworth, Kansas.

On August 19, 1932, Awbrey filed an application for an unconditional pardon with the Department of Justice, accompanied by an affidavit from co-defendant Poe naming another man, Lawrence Stringfellow, as his accomplice and stating that Awbrey had no involvement in the crime. Other affidavits from the family of Awbrey’s brother were filed, describing his activities on August 4 and providing him with an alibi. Stringfellow was indicted and pled guilty in September of 1932.

Based on the evidence of Awbrey’s innocence, President Herbert Hoover signed the unconditional pardon on November 16, 1932 and Awbrey was released from prison on the following day. He had served 460 days in custody for a crime he did not commit.

- Michael Shevlin

State:Ok - Federal
Most Serious Crime:Robbery
Reported Crime Date:1931
Sentence:3 years
Race/Ethnicity:Don't Know
Age at the date of crime:
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID