City Museum hosts lecture on last Alaska executions

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, the Juneau-Douglas City Museum will host a free evening public presentation by Averil Lerman on the last executions in Alaska.

The City Museum said in a news release that two African-American men were hanged in Juneau after separate criminal trials, one in 1948 and other in 1950. They were the last men sentenced to death in Alaska. Each was hanged for the same 1946 murder of a Juneau shopkeeper. According to Lerman, an Anchorage attorney who spent 20 years litigating the validity of criminal convictions in state and federal court, evidence suggests that neither conviction was properly obtained, nor the trials fair.

Lerman has conducted an extensive investigation into events relating to the two Juneau trials, and is writing a book on the subject. Her research has been supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the Alaska Native Justice Center. Lerman also serves on the board of the Alaska Historical Society.

Lerman presented her research at the joint Museums Alaska/Alaska Historical Society conference held in Cordova last month in a session titled “Politics and Social Justice,” and was invited to Juneau by the city museum to present her topic and conduct further research.

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