The Interaction Between Victim Race and Gender on Sentencing Outcomes in Capital Murder Trials: A Further Exploration

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capital punishment, race, gender

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This study extends previous research on the interactive effects of victim race and gender on death sentence outcomes reported by Williams and Holcomb (2004). They report an interactive effect between victim race and victim gender on Ohio death sentencing outcomes, such that killers of White women are especially at risk of receiving death sentences. The study here seeks to determine if the Williams and Holcomb finding holds for a sample of murder cases in North Carolina for which the state sought the death penalty. Initial results of a descriptive analysis suggest a White female victim effect, but the introduction of control variables via logistic regression equations yields no gender or race interactions as predictors of sentencing outcomes. Reasons for the different outcomes are explored, and topics requiring further exploration are discussed.

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Homicide Studies, v. 10, issue 2, p. 98-117