Christian, an African-American maid, was convicted for the murder of her white employer Mrs. Ida Virginia Belote, a white woman, aged 72 years, in her home at Hampton on March 18. It is said she confessed shortly after she was arrested.
Belote frequently mistreated Christian, and in mid-March 1912, a violent argument ensued between the two in which Belote accused Christian of stealing a locket and a skirt. Belote hit Christian with a cuspidor—commonly called a “spittoon”—which sent Christian into a violent frenzy. The altercation escalated when Christian and Belote ran for two broom handles Belote used to prop up her bedroom windows. Christian grabbed one of the broom handles and struck Belote on the forehead. In an attempt to stifle Belote’s screams, Christian stuffed a towel down Belote’s throat, and the woman died by suffocation. When Christian left the house, she stole Belote’s purse with some money and a ring. One newspaper reported that police found Belote’s body “laying face down in a pool of blood, and her head was horribly mutilated and a towel was stuffed into her mouth and throat” (Streib & Sametz, 1989, p. 25; see also Moten, 1997). The police soon arrested Christian, and during questioning she admitted to hitting Belote but was shocked that Belote was dead. Christian claimed she had no intent to kill Belote. With a lynch mob looming in the background, an Elizabeth City County Court tried and convicted Christian for murder and the trial judge sentenced her to death in the state’s electric chair. One day after her 17th birthday in August 1912, a short 5 months after the crime, Virginia authorities executed Christian at the state penitentiary in Richmond.
My dear Mr. Governor: Please forgive me for bothering you ... I have been paralyzed for more than three years and I could not look after Gennie as I wants to. I know she done an awful wicked thing when she killed Miss Belote and I hear that people at the penitentiary wants to kill her. But I am praying night and day on my knees to God that he will soften your heart. If you only save my child who is so little, God will bless you forever.
Christian was electrocuted in the state prison in Richmond. She was 17 years old. The paper reported that her body was to be turned over to the state medical school, because her parents did not have the money to transport the body from Richmond."