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Man Convicted in Killing of Woman Attacked Because of Her Race

June 1, 1994

ST. GEORGE, S.C. (AP) _ A black man was convicted of taking part in the killing of a white woman who was allegedly singled out because of her race.

Matthew Carl Mack, 21, faces the death penalty following his conviction Tuesday for kidnapping and murder. The penalty phase begins Thursday.

Police said Mack and two other men spent the day drinking and watched a television news report on 1992′s biggest stories, including the trial of four Los Angeles police officers on state charges in the Rodney King beating.

According to Mack, Joe Gardner, a Navy petty officer who remains at large, told his friends: ″That’s 400 years of oppression. That’s why that could happen.″

Mack claimed that Gardner also said, ″That’s my New Year’s resolution, to kill a white bitch.″

The victim, 25-year-old Melissa Ann McLauchlin, locked herself out of her house on Dec. 30, 1992, and was crossing the street to a grocery store when she was picked up.

She was taken to a mobile home where she was assaulted, then put in a car, shot five times in the head and once in the arm, and dumped on a highway.

Mack admitted having sex with McLauchlin, but said she did it willingly and denied kidnapping her. He also claimed he had no idea Gardner was going to shoot her.

A total of six men and two women were charged in the case, including some charged as accessories after the fact. Two have already pleaded guilty to accessory and weapons charges, and three are awaiting trial on a variety of charges.

Matthew Paul Williams, 22, is scheduled to go on trial next. He is charged with murder and prosecutors say they’ll seek the death penalty for him.