Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

M. Dwayne Smith, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Cochran, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Christine S. Sellers, Ph.D.


Capital punishment, Death-eligible, Extra-legal factors, First-degree murder, Interactive effects


This study is an exploration and extension of previous research on the interactive effects of victim-race and victim-gender on death sentence outcomes. Williams and Holcomb's (2004) study suggests that an interactive effect exists between victim-race and victim-gender on Ohio death sentencing outcomes, such that killers of White women are especially singled out for capital punishment. The current study analyzes a sample of death eligible cases at the trial level in North Carolina to determine if Williams & Holcomb's findings hold up for a different sample of cases and in a different state. Logistic regression is used to determine if there are direct and/or interactive effects of victim's race and victim's gender on capital sentencing outcomes, controlling for the variety of other factors that influence that decision. Results suggest that the interactive effects reported by Williams and Holcomb do not exist in North Carolina at the sentencing/penalty processing phase of capital trials.