Robert Smith

Clarence Williams, Cleo Peterson, and Robert Smith killed August F. Braum, Jr., 52, during a robbery of his meat market in Elizabeth on October 4, 1930. Braum was shot when he tried to defend himself with a butcher knife.

The three assailants fled the scene and robbed a nearby gas station during a spree of robberies that lasted through the following day.

Williams and Peterson were arrested after a gunfight with Donora police on October 17. Smith had been arrested during a robbery on October 11. Under questioning, Williams and Peterson provided information to police that linked Smith to Braum’s killing.

The three were tried together and convicted of first-degree murder on February 13, 1931. The jury recommended death sentences for all three defendants. Smith became ill on March 9 and died of pneumonia on March 14, 1931, before being formally sentenced to death. Williams and Peterson were executed on June 22, 1931.

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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