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Sat, 06.30.1951

Marcus W. Chenault Jr., Murderer born

Marcus W. Chenault Jr.

*Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr. was born on this date in 1951.  He was a Black college dropout and murderer.

His parents were Marcus Chenault and Henda Lee (Arnold) Chenault, Dayton, Ohio. As a youth, he adopted the theology of the Black Hebrew Israelites. Chenault's mentor, Rev. Hananiah E. Israel of Cincinnati, castigated black civil rights activists and black church leaders as evil and deceptive but claimed in interviews not to have advocated violence.

Chenault did not draw such a distinction and planned to assassinate Rev. Jesse Jackson in Chicago but canceled the plan at the last minute. Two weeks later, he set out for Atlanta, where on his birthday in 1974, he shot Alberta King with two handguns as she sat at the organ of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Chenault said he shot King because "all Christians are my enemies," and black ministers were a menace to black people. He said his original target had been Martin Luther King Sr., but he had decided to shoot his wife instead because she was near him.

Chenault was tried, convicted, and sentenced to die in the electric chair. He said he had acted out of hatred for Christianity because his god had told him to. After the killings, he said, "all Christians are my enemies." In his trial, Chenault was sentenced to death, even though two psychiatrists testified that Chenault had schizophrenia and was insane at the time of the murders. A judge commuted Chenault's sentence to life in prison in 1995. Chenault died of natural causes on August 3, 1995.

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