Wrongly Convicted Database Record


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Clyde Beale



First Degree Murder


Death and later resentenced or commuted to Life

Years Imprisoned:


Year Crime:


Year Convicted:


Year Cleared:


U.S. State or Country of Crime:

West Virginia

County or Region of Crime:


City of Crime:




Summary of Case:

"Clyde Beale was wrongly convicted of first-degree murder on July 24, 1926 in the death of Mrs. Rissie Purdue on May 9, 1926 in Vulcan, Mingo County, West Virginia. On July 28, 1926 Judge R. B. Bailey sentenced to death by hanging. The West Virginia Supreme Court affirmed Beale's conviction and sentence on November 22, 1927. The time for executing the sentence had expired. On remand Judge Bailey sentenced Beale to life in prison (99 years) on July 18, 1928. Judge Bailey stated his reason for sentencing Bailey to prison instead of death was "he has been convinced of the innocence of the defendant and has felt that the prisoner had not had a fair and impartial trial before an unbiased jury of his fellowmen; and that the witnesses upon whose testimony Beale was convicted have admitted that their evidence was false and have pleaded that the life of Beale be spared." (State v. Bailey, 106 W. Va. 32 (W. Va. 1928). Mingo County District Attorney Lafe Chafin filed a writ of mandamus to compel Judge Bailey to sentence Beale to death. The state argued Judge Bailey had no lawful authority to change to original sentence. In 1928 the West Virginia Supreme Court agreed with the the State, and ordered Judge Bailey to sentence Beale to death. The Court stated in its ruling: "We feel that the respondent has conscientiously acted, being convinced of the innocence of the prisoner, but his actions and procedure, however conscientious, are not warranted by law; and the peremptory writ of mandamus will issue." Judge Bailey said he would resign before sentencing Beale to death. Facing being found in contempt of court by the WV Supreme Court, Judge Bailey resigned, and another judge sentenced Beale to death. On May 11, 1929 West Virginia Governor William G. Conley commuted Beale's sentence to life in prison, on the eve of Beale's scheduled hanging. It was reported that the prison's 2,000 inmates cheered when the cummutation was announced. On February 28, 1933 W.V. Governor W. G. Conley granted Beale a conditional pardon based on the evidence of his innocence, and he was released from prison. On April 7, 1949 Beale was granted an unconditional pardon by West Virginia Governor Okey L. Patteson."

Conviction Caused By:

False testimony by prosecution witnesses.

Innocence Proved By:

West Virginia's governor granted Clyde Beale a conditional pardon in 1933 based on the evidence of his innocence and he was released.

Defendant Aided By:

Compensation Awarded:

Was Perpetrator Identified?

Age When Imprisoned:

Age When Released:




Information Source 1:

"“In Spite of Innocence: Erroneous Convictions in Capital Cases,” Michael L Radelet, Hugo Adam Bedau, and Constance E. Putnam, Northeastern University Press, Boston, 1992 p. 284-5."

Information Location 1:

Information Source 2:

"“Miscarriages of Justice in Potentially Capital Cases,” Hugo Adam Bedau & Michael L. Radelet, Stanford Law Review, November, 1987, Vol. 40, p. 95."

Information Location 2:

Information Source 3:

"State v. Bailey, 106 W. Va. 32 (W. Va. 1928) (Granting writ of mandamus and ordering that Beale be sentenced to death.)"

Information Location 3:


Information Source 4:

"Saved From The Gallows, Special to The New York Times, The New York Times, May 12, 1929, p. 14."

Information Location 4:

Information Source 5:

"Legal Maze Over 1926 Murder Solved by Pardon From Patteson, By UPI, The Charleston Gazette, April 8, 1949, p. 34"

Information Location 5:

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Innocents Database Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org

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