Whatever happened to North Carolinian Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann) Little from the mid-1970s?
Her infamous murder trial 48 years ago for which she was acquitted of knifing to death a white North Carolina jailer attempting to rape her while incarcerated became a cause-celeb worldwide and shined attention on the treatment of women in the judicial system.
I remember the case well.
I had just returned to Atlanta in 1974 after discharge from the US Army. I began working as a news anchor for WIGO radio, which at that time was located in Atlanta.
One of the first cases our three-person news department of humble self, Yao Seidu and C. Randy Humphrey (deceased) focused on was the Little case.
In August of 1974, the body of 62-year-old jailer Clarence Alligood was found in a cell occupied by the then 20-year-old Little. She pleaded self-defense (Alligood had developed a reputation for sexually assaulting jailed females and especially Blacks) but was nonetheless indicted for first degree murder. Prosecutors sought the death penalty.
Six weeks after her trial commenced in July of 1975, a jury of six whites and six blacks took one hour and thirty minutes to find Ms. Little no guilty on August 15th.
Since 1989, Ms. Little virtually disappeared from public life. Little is believed living in the New York area. She reportedly would now be 67 years old.