Thursday, October 10, 2002

October 9, 2002

lesbian, prostitute and the confessed killer of seven men...

Last Meal: Wuornos didn't order a last meal and skipped the regular fare of barbecued chicken, mashed potatoes, apple crisp and tea but had a cup of coffee about 12:30 a.m. Instead Wuornos ate a hamburger and other snack food from the prison's canteen. Later, she drank a cup of coffee.

The skinny: One of the nation's few female serial killers was executed by lethal injection, Wuornos shot to death at least six middle-aged men along Florida highways. Using a roadside cafe near Daytona Beach she murdered six middle-aged businessmen who approached her for sex between 1989 and 1990, accompanying them into the woods and shooting them. Her story has been portrayed in two movies, three books and an opera.

She initially said the killings were in self-defense after she was assaulted by customers who picked her up. But she later said the self-defence claim was a lie and she intended to rob and kill the men.

"I'm one who seriously hates human life and would kill again," she wrote earlier this year. "I have hate crawling through my system." Keeping her alive, she added, would be "a waste of taxpayers' money".

Buzz was high: Three dozen reporters, two dozen television cameras and a dozen satellite trucks camped out in the cow pasture across the road from the Florida State Prison.

Attendance was low: Wuornos was the most famous Florida death row inmate to be executed since Ted Bundy, but her execution attracted only about a tenth of the crowd of supporters, opponents and curiosity-seekers that Bundy received in 1992.

"I thought it would be bigger," said Jennifer SantaLucia, a Clearwater bingo hall worker who described herself as someone who "loves serial killers." She unsuccessfully tried corresponding with Wuornos and has received letters from Danny Rolling, who is on death row for killing five Gainesville students.

Reporters outnumbered the 30 death penalty protesters who gathered in a semicircle with signs reading "Execution is not the solution" and "Time out on executions."

Final words: In her final statement, she referred to Jesus and a blockbuster movie. "I'd just like to say I'm sailing with the Rock and I'll be back like Independence Day with Jesus, June 6, like the movie, big mother ship and all. I'll be back."

Final night:

Wuornos' last night was spent talking with a "friend: from Michigan, Dawn Botkins. The pair talked from 9 p.m. to midnight Tuesday, and prison officials said Botkins planned to claim the body. Botkins plans to scatter Wuornos' ashes in Michigan, their childhood home.

Prison logs show she had been increasingly agitated, sleeping restlessly and even shouting out in her sleep once.

Officials said she was calm Wednesday morning as she was placed on a steel gurney, her arms taped down to wooden paddles. Thick leather straps held her down from the chest to the feet. A white sheet hid the straps but revealed their outlines.

A clear tube wound its way from under the gurney and into a vein in her right arm, just at the soft spot where the inside of the elbow bends.

A female guard stood by her head; a male guard stood at her left side, in front of a curtained closet where an anonymous executioner waited for the warden's order to begin.

When the order was given, Wuornos blinked and swallowed hard.

At 9:32, Wuornos gasped, shut her eyes and opened her mouth as if to form a word.

She did not move again.

For the next 15 minutes, witnesses watched her lips turn an ever-darker blue and her skin a pallid white.

At 9:47, a doctor checked for a pulse and heartbeat. It was announced the death sentence had been carried out.

The curtains closed and the witnesses left.

Factoids: Wuornos, 46, became the 10th woman executed in the United States since capital punishment resumed in 1977. Oklahoma has put three women to death; Florida and Texas have executed two each.

Opponents of the death penalty say the execution was timed to boost the popularity of Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida and the president's brother, just weeks before he stands for re-election.

Wuornos is the 10th woman executed in the US since 1976, when the death penalty for women was reinstated after a brief moratorium. The previous woman executed in Florida was Judy Buenoano, the "Black Widow", electrocuted in 1998 for killing her husband and drowning her paraplegic son.

Wuornos was one of 52 women on Death Rows throughout the U.S. and one of three in Florida.

In the past 100 years, 48 women have been executed in the United States.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Dateline: Nigeria


Nigerian lovers not told of their death penalty

A Nigerian man and his lover, who is eight months pregnant, have still not been told a court has sentenced them to death by stoning for having sexual intercourse outside marriage, their lawyer said yesterday.

The couple were sentenced under Sharia law, which allows amputations for theft or death by stoning for adultery.

Officials did not explain why the couple could not be told. Ibrahim is the first man to be sentenced to death for adultery in Nigeria.

Previously only women were prosecuted and their children used as evidence.

Monday, October 07, 2002

New Play Looks at Folks Wrongly Invited To Dinner.

From the NYTimes (reg. req.)'The Exonerated': Convicted, Condemned and Innocent


COERCED confessions, conflicting DNA evidence and overturned convictions are the subjects of newspaper headlines. They are also elements of "The Exonerated," a play about six wrongfully convicted death row inmates, starring Richard Dreyfuss, Jill Clayburgh and Sara Gilbert. Developed by two young actors from interviews with former prisoners, it opens on Thursday at 45 Bleecker Street under Bob Balaban's direction.

The play follows the characters from arrest through imprisonment to life after release, and the words the actors speak are from the exonerated themselves.

Mr. Dreyfuss plays Kerry Max Cook, a Texas man sentenced to death for the murder of a woman in his apartment complex. He spent 22 years in prison before DNA evidence proved his innocence.

Ms. Clayburgh appears as Sonya Jacobs, known as Sunny, who was convicted along with her common-law husband, Jessie Joseph Tafero, of murdering a Florida policeman and a Canadian constable in 1976. Ms. Jacobs was released 16 years later, after the real killer confessed.

In 1990, two years before Sunny's release, Jessie Tafero was electrocuted. The chair malfunctioned and flames shot from his head after three jolts of electricity.

The authors of "The Exonerated," Erik Jensen and Jessica Blank, who are both in their 20's, say they decided to create the play during a conference on the death penalty.

The playwrights hope "The Exonerated" will provoke debate. But, Ms. Blank said, there is more to it than politics. "These stories have so much to teach us — not just about the legal system and the death penalty," she said, "but also about humanity, about strength, about how you learn to survive, about courage."

Sunday, October 06, 2002


Aleen Wuornos gets her wish

The saga of female serial killer Aileen Wuornos is almost certain to come to an end Wednesday morning.

There are no appeals pending, her lawyers have been fired and the 46-year-old highway prostitute says she wants to die for her crimes. They have been well chronicled in at least three books, a television movie, a documentary and even an original production by the San Francisco Opera.

She has been given four death sentences for six murder confessions and is a suspect in a seventh.

Wuornos' status as a female serial killer is unusual but several researchers have found she is not unique. They say she is neither the first or the worst female serial killer in history. That title could very well go to Hungarian Countess Erzebet Bathory who was said to have killed more than 600 people, most of them young girls, before she was found out. She was imprisoned in one of her castles and died in 1614.

She insists that the killings were in self defense while she was resisting assaults by men who had picked her up as she worked as a prostitute along central Florida's highways.

All seven middle-aged men were fatally shot and robbed. The spree began Nov. 30, 1989, and the last victim was reported missing Nov. 19, 1990.

The execution Wednesday will be for the first slaying, that of Richard Mallory, 51, an electrician from Palm Harbor, Fla. He was reported missing Nov. 30, and his fully clothed body was found two weeks later in a wooded area northwest of Daytona Beach, Fla.

He was described as a heavy drinker who frequented topless bars. Police found no criminal record but an ABC News report in 1992 said he had served time for rape in another state.

Wuornos, a native of Rochester, Mich., was arrested in a Harbour Oaks, Fla., biker bar in 1991, and confessed a week later.

Wuornos took the witness stand at her trial in 1992, claiming Mallory's death was self defense. It took the jury only 90 minutes to reach a guilty verdict, and she was sentenced to death.

Wuornos' other three death sentences came as the result of guilty pleas and the other cases were never tried.

In her most recent court appearance this summer, Wuornos charged that prison guards were harassing her and trying to drive her to suicide. In a hand-written complaint, she charged guards with poisoning her food, spitting in it and serving her food cooked with dirt.

A judge has the case under advisement and it will probably never be resolved.