Reverend Charles H. Baldwin (C.H. Baldwin), 73, was killed when he was struck by a ten-pound rock thrown from a convertible driven by four white men. C.H. Baldwin was walking a cow across the street when the men struck him with the rock. The rock hit his leg and his head hit the pavement as he fell to the ground. He died on the way to Huntsville hospital. Police arrested Charles Connally, 31, William Walling, 22, Walter Thompson, 20 and Doc Hill, 22. The four defendants, all from New Hope, Alabama, worked for manufacturing companies and textile mills in the area.
The sheriff stated that the men claimed the assault was a “prank.” At the time, there was a great deal of tension between poor whites and blacks, in part due to competition for work.
In 1954, the population of Huntsville was only 8,000. Seven cotton mills surrounding the town were incorporated into it in 1956, doubling the population. The town grew quickly, and by 1957 there were 32,000 people in Huntsville. In 1956, the town was known for extreme racism.
Although Charles Connally was driving the car, he was not charged. Neither was passenger William Walling. Walter Thompson was charged with murder, but the charges were dropped when he agreed to testify against Doc Hill. After a four day jury trial, Doc Hill was sentenced to manslaughter. The manslaughter verdict was based on the jury’s conclusion that because the men did not know C.H. Baldwin, it was an accident. Hill was sentenced to a one year term of “hard labor.” The District Attorney was Glenn Manning. The defense lawyer was the well-known Ralph Ford.