Hurricane Carter's Alibis


"Hurricane" Carter talks to police outside the Lafayette Grill the morning of the murders.

In his book, The 16th Round, Hurricane Carter explained where he went, what he was doing, and who he was with, on the night three people were murdered at the Lafayette Bar and Grill.

His official biography, Hurricane: the Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter, also explains where he went, what he was doing, and who he was with that night.

One problem..... the two alibis are different!

Check it out in this chart.

Carter testifies: first trial newspaper article (pdf file)

June 16, 1966

 The Sixteenth Round

The Miraculous Journey


Watching TV Watching TV

A little before midnight Before 11:00 p.m.

Picks up "Bucks" Royster, the friendly neighbourhood barfly. Then John Artis sees him and asks for a ride to the Nite Spot. Carter says sure, but he has to go to Club LaPetit first. No mention of giving anyone a ride.

Goes to Club LaPetit and meets with his advisor Nathan Sermond, talks about his upcoming boxing match. Artis waits. [Note: Mentions that Carter is heading for a business meeting with Nathan Sermond, but doesn't mention if or when the meeting took place.] At Nite Spot by 11:00 p.m., bumps into sparring partner Neil Morrison and asks him about some missing guns. While disputing with Morrison, his friend Eddie Rawls arrives. His stepfather, a bartender, was murdered earlier that day.

Drives John Artis to the Nite Spot and drops him off. Goes with Morrison and two other Nite Spot regulars to the apartment of Annabelle Chandler, to confirm that she saw Morrison with the missing guns.

Goes to Richie's Hideway with "Bucks" Royster, listens to the band. Note: Hirsch doesn't specify if Carter went anywhere else, but places him back at the Nite Spot after the visit to Chandler's apartment.

Carter and Royster return to Nite Spot to meet with Wild Bill Hardney

Cathy McGuire and her mother, Mrs. Mapes, ask for a ride home. No mention.


Carter returns to Nite Spot  

Decides to go home to get more money, asks Wild Bill Hardney to go with him, Hardney turns him down, so he asks Artis. Artis asks to drive. Carter asks Hardney to go home with him, Hardney turns him down, so he asks Artis. He tells Artis to drive. "Bucks" Royster joins them for the first time that evening.


Goes home to get more money. (He's taking Artis and Royster with him so his wife won't try to keep him home.) Goes home to get more money. (Note: in his statement to police, Artis said he and Carter went to a restaurant called Grady's and had a meal. He doesn't mention going to Carter's house.)

Returns to Nite Spot, but it's closing and it's too late to go to Club LaPetit. (so why did he go home to get money?) Returns to Nite Spot, but it's closing

Decides to call it a night. Carter drives "Bucks" Royster home. Carter asks Artis to drive to Club LaPetit to look for Hardney, but it's also closed. Decides to call it a night.

Driving toward John Artis' house, when.... Artis is at the wheel. He drops off Royster. He is driving to an unspecified destination, when....



Advanced Alibi Evolution

Bonus Round: If you don't like those two alibis, there's more to chose from! Carter's alibi on the night he was picked up and questioned, was different from the two alibis shown above. And John Artis's alibi didn't match Carter's.

Carter's alibis evolved and dissolved. But from the outset, Carter has claimed that he was not just dressed up and cruising bars that Thursday night. He had a business meeting to discuss an upcoming South American boxing match. His alibi for the meeting story was his friend Nathan Sermond, who testified that Carter was at Club La Petit from 11:00 until 1:00 a.m. Does it matter where Carter was, two hours before anyone claims the murders took place?

Turns out it does. When first questioned by the police, Carter never mentioned a trip to the apartment of a woman named Annabelle Chandler. There is no mention of it in the 16th Round, but he admitted to it at trial. Annabelle Chandler had apparently told Carter that his erstwhile sparring partner Neil Morrison had stolen some of Carter's guns from his boxing training camp.

As Paul Wice reports, in Rubin Hurricane Carter and the American Justice System, "[a]round 11:00 p.m. on June 16, Carter ran into Morrison outside the Nite Spot Bar and accused him of stealing [the guns]. Morrison denied the accusation. Carter, Morrison, and two other men then decided to drive over to Ms. Chandler's apartment to straighten out the matter." This might have looked bad for our hero -- looking for guns a few hours before a grisly multiple murder takes places -- but fortunately for him, another defense witness, George Andrews, testified at trial that he was also paying a midnight social visit to the terminally ill Ms. Chandler and that he saw no signs of hostility between Carter and Morrison.

The problem is -- well, there are lots of problems here, but one problem is that we now have Carter meeting with Nathan Sermond at the Club La Petit at the same time he's bumping into Morrison at the Nite Spot and going to see Annabelle Chandler. Wice presents both alibis on the same page (6) in his book but never mentions the discrepancy. We also know that Carter's car was spotted by police at Club La Petit after he had been stopped the first time by Sergeant Capter, but before he had been stopped the second time. A guilty man, in Carter's situation, having been stopped once by the police, would rush off to establish an alibi. "Nathan," he would say. "If anybody asks, you and I had a meeting tonight about my boxing match in South America. Yeah. That's why I was out tonight. I had a meeting."

Closer to the critical murder hour, we have the story of giving two ladies a ride home. Again, according to DeSimone's notes, Carter did not mention this in his first lengthy interview with the detective. He mentioned the late night meeting with Nathan Sermond, but not the search for guns and the ride for the ladies. At trial, Carter stuck to his "I gave Mrs. Mapes and Miss McGuire a ride home" story as outlined in the 16th Round, and even clung to it at the second trial. This despite the fact that the two ladies themselves recanted the story at the second trial and the prosecution had turned up a letter Carter wrote the witnesses outlining the details of the alibi and asking them to "remember" it. The "ride home" story persists in Lazarus and the Hurricane but it drops from sight in his official biography.

Today, in his inspirational speeches, Carter claims that that he "had a number of credible alibi witnesses placing (him) elsewhere at the time of the crime," and that's evidently good enough for the journalists who cover his appearances. They might not know that Anna Mapes, Catherine McGuire and "Wild Bill" Hardney, who were supposed to be with Carter at the Nite Spot at the time of the murders (see chart), testified at the second trial, that Carter had asked them to lie.

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