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.