Killing of John Lewis Smith in Alabama in 1938


Case summary

John Lewis Smith, 16, a schoolboy, was killed in 1938 by Hugh E. Colburn in Birmingham, Alabama. Colburn shot and killed John Smith in a courthouse after he had just been given a 99-year prison sentence for raping the white man’s daughter. Smith had declared his innocence. A grand jury declined to indict Colbert. An essay on this case, researched and authored by a CRRJ student, is available on request.


Alleged perpetrators/other named individuals:
Perpetrator group type: [ ]

Date of incident: 1938-05-11
Location: Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
Location type: public space - urban
Allegation against victim: assaulting a white girl

Coroner process
Coroner/inquest: yes
Finding of no legal responsibility: no

Criminal process
Arrest: yes
Charge/indictment/information: [ ]
Grand jury: yes
Trial: no
Conviction: [ ]
Sentence: [ ]

advocacy group resources
death certificates
federal agency records
news articles - closed
Data Fields
To learn more about data fields, refer to the data dictionary.
Cite this Page
Refer to how to cite.