Murder is the Charge: The True Story of Mayor Charlie Robertson and the York, Pennsylvania, Race Riots

William C. Costopoulos with Brad Bumsted

$ 24.95

Type Hardcover
Vendor Camino Books
Pages 224 pages with 29 photographs
Size 6" x 9"
ISBN 978-0-940159-88-4
Tags History, Politics, True Crime
Preview Book View Excerpt
A blunt, angry recounting from the defense lawyers’ point of view that underscores the no-holds-barred approach of the accusers and the accused unleashed during the trial. It also shows that the anger that lay stagnant for decades in the community remains.
Tom Squitieri, USA Today

Bill Costopoulos pulls no punches—either inside or outside of the courtroom—in this provocative and lively account of the nationally covered trial.
Dr. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs, Millersville University


Eleven days of hell was how those charged with restoring order to York, Pennsylvania described the July 1969 riots. The false accusation of a young African American boy against a group of white gang youths incited mayhem that quickly escalated from throwing rocks to indiscriminate shooting between blacks and whites. With the city out of control, then Governor Raymond Shafer called in the National Guard.

In the end, the toll came to two dead—Henry Schaad, a white police officer, and Lillie Belle Allen, a young black woman—untold numbers wounded, enormous destruction of property, and a ruptured community. Though the shooters of Schaad and Allen were known at the time, in the interest of preserving a fragile peace, the district attorney declined to prosecute a case for the killings.

Fast-forward to May 17, 2001, when York Mayor Charlie Robertson, a former police officer on duty during the riots, is arrested. Despite tainted testimony, the deaths of key witnesses after a lapse of thirty-two years, the loss of crucial evidence and the erosion of memories, Charlie Robertson stands charged with the murder of Lillie Belle Allen. In the effort to right a long-ago wrong, another grievous one is committed.

Building the case against Robertson, editorials demand his resignation as mayor of York. Asked by the York Democratic Party chairman to withdraw from his race for reelection, Charlie complies. The life of Charlie Robertson, who grew up in York and devoted his life to serving his beloved White Rose City, lies in ruins.

Tracing all the plot twists of this complex narrative, defense attorney and author William C. Costopoulos delivers a biting account of his most challenging case.


About the Authors

William C. Costopoulos is the author of four books, including Principal Suspect (Camino Books, 1996), and is known for high-profile criminal defense cases.

Brad Bumsted is an award-winning, statewide political reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

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