Saturday, December 14, 2002


New York's last execution was in 1963...

Eddie Lee Mays earned a place in history on Aug. 15, 1963, when he was strapped in the electric chair at Sing Sing, becoming the last person to be executed by state sanction in New York.

Mays, 34, was the 695th person to be executed in New York State since 1890, when the state first established death by electrocution.

He declined the customary last meal and instead asked for a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes.

Mays was convicted of fatally shooting Maria Marini, 31, during a robbery at the Friendly Tavern at 1403 Fifth Avenue in Harlem.

Mays also was part of a gang that confessed to committing 52 robberies in a six-week period.

According to news accounts at the time, Mays walked into the bar with two associates and collected $275 from the bartender and several customers.

When Marini was slow in turning over her purse, Mays reportedly became angry, grabbed her purse and grew more irate when he found it empty.

“I ought to kill you,” witnesses reported him as saying. Mays then put his gun to Marini’s forehead and pulled the trigger.

From 1930 to 1967, when the death penalty came to an end in the state, New York was ranked third in the country in the number of executions, with 329, behind Georgia and Texas.

Gov. George Pataki signed the death penalty back into law in 1995.

Electrocution is no longer used as a means of execution, replaced by lethal injection.

Friday, December 13, 2002

December, 12, 2002

Are you going to San Francisco?

Last Meal:
a double cheeseburger, fries, peach or cherry cobbler, a pint of vanilla ice cream and a large bottle of cran-grape juice.

The Skinny: Jay Wesley Neill, a 37-year-old gay man, died by lethal injection. Neill was one of two men who robbed a bank in Geronimo, Okla., in 1984. During the robbery, Neill and his partner Robert Johnson stabbed three bank employees to death, and also shot four customers, one of whom also died. Neill was 19 at the time.

You can't live on love alone. Neill and Johnson met at a bar in February 1984 and became romantically involved. They shared an apartment, a car and the bills, but soon found themselves in money trouble. Neill had told two friends the bank would be easy to rob because it had little security.

In the days before the robbery, Neill and Johnson bought two knives and booked plane tickets to San Francisco. On the day of the robbery, the men bought a .32-caliber pistol and a box of ammunition. They also moved their flight departure time up from 6 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

At about 1:30 p.m., Neill held up the bank, officials said. He forced three employees into a back room where they were stabbed a total of 75 times, authorities said. "It was like everything else blacked out and you're not really aware of what was going on," Neill said during a taped interview with the religious television show "The 700 Club" in 1986.

An hour later, the men boarded a plane in Lawton headed for Dallas, then caught a connecting flight to San Francisco. They left Oklahoma with nearly $17,000 and booked a hotel room and 24-hour limousine service. While there, they shopped, toured the city and went to night clubs.

Witness accounts and tips from the men's friends led the FBI to their San Francisco hotel.

The Gay Brou-ha-ha: Opponents of capital punishment decry all executions, but in this case, advocates like Amnesty International have an additional reason to plead for clemency: anti-gay bias.

Addressing the jury during the sentencing phase of Neill's trial in 1992, the prosecutor said:

"I want you to think briefly about the man you're sitting in judgment on and determining what the appropriate punishment should be ... I'd like to go through some things that to me depict the true person, what kind of person he is. He is a homosexual. The person you're sitting in judgment on -- disregard Jay Neill. You're deciding life or death on a person that's a vowed (sic) homosexual ... But these are areas you consider whenever you determine the type of person you're sitting in judgment on. ... The individual's homosexual."

Last words and such: "I want everyone to know that I'm really sorry for what I did. I'm not sorry because I'm lying here dying. I hope you can find some comfort in that."

Neill said he was sorry for jeopardizing his salvation and repeatedly invoked the name of Jesus. As he made his last statement, Neill fought back tears and appeared distraught, at times saying he felt dizzy.

Factoid: In a separate trial, Robert Johnson was sentenced to life in prison.

In Oklahoma City, six people were arrested on misdemeanor civil disobedience complaints during a protest. Protester Wes Roberts said murder is the only crime that is duplicated by the state when an execution is carried out. "You don't rape a raper, rob a robber or mug a mugger," Roberts said. "That would be considered unconscionable."

Neill was the sixth person to be executed in Oklahoma this year and the 54th since the state resumed executions in 1990.

December 12, 2002

Goodbye Yellow Mama...

Plus...a vending machine sandwich?!

a sandwich from a Holman Prison vending machine.

The Skinny: Anthony Johnson was executed for his role in the 1984 shooting death of a jeweler became the first Alabama inmate executed by injection. Johnson was not the triggerman in the robbery. Others who took part in the robbery have never been charged. At Johnson's trial, jurors voted 9 to 3 for life in prison without parole, but Morgan County Circuit Judge R.L. Hundley chose not to accept that recommendation and imposed the death sentence.

Johnson's case first gained notoriety when, to aid the prosecution effort, authorities had to get a court order to remove a bullet lodged in his back. They concluded the bullet was consistent with the victim's weapon, putting Johnson at the crime scene.

Final Words and such: At 5:53 p.m., corrections officers opened the curtain to the execution chamber where Johnson lay strapped to the gurney. He waved at witnesses and smiled. Johnson, 46, did not give a final statement. He acknowledged the presence of his pastor and a friend in the witness room and told the warden, "I'd just like to say to my friends I loved them. But they all know that I loved them."

Factoids: Lethal injection became Alabama's primary method of execution under a law passed earlier this year, leaving only Nebraska with the chair as the sole means to execute condemned inmates. Alabama's electric chair, known as "Yellow Mama" for its color, has been used since 1927.

The warden injected 6 different syringes, one after the other.

Death row inmates now have a choice--electrocution, which is supposed to be instantaneous, or lethal injection, a process which prison officials expected to take 7 to 12 minutes.

Johnson was the first to be executed in Holman's remodeled death chamber. Alabama spent $185,000 this year to create a new execution chamber for injecting prisoners.

Officials said there are 285 inmates on Alabama's death row.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

December 4, 2002

Cain and Abel with oral in Texas...

Plus, drugs and dominos!?

Last Meal: One whole fried chicken (extra crispy), salad with Thousand Island dressing, French toast, two diet Cokes, one apple pie, and French fries

The skinny: Rojas confessed to killing his common-law wife and brother, whom he suspected of having an affair. Rojas, who had returned home after a night of drugs and dominoes, noticed Reed coming out his brother's bedroom in the double-wide trailer they shared. A jealous Rojas, who believed his wife was sleeping with his brother, immediately confronted her. Reed denied the accusation with a laugh. They went to the bedroom where Reed performed oral sex on him, after completion of said oral sex, Rojas shot her between the eyes with a .32-caliber pistol. He then called his brother out of the bathroom and shot him to death. Noticing his wife was still breathing on their bedroom floor, Rojas tied a plastic bag over her head and stacked pillows and blankets on her body.

Final words: Rojas, wearing a white collared shirt that partially exposed his chest, responded "No."

Regrets, I've had a few, but then again too few to mention: Leonard Rojas said recently he had no regrets about shooting Jo Ann Reed between the eyes after having one last sexual encounter with her.

"I'll never regret it. Never," he said of the 1994 killings. "These people, they were just basically evil. They just wanted my money, wanted my drugs and they wanted to do me in."

Factoids: Rojas was the 32nd person executed in Texas this year, bringing the total to 288 since Texas reinstated the death penalty in 1982.

"At least he's not crying about it," said the Texas Ranger who took Rojas' confession. "He is stepping up to the plate like he always did. He was a pretty pleasant ol' boy -- the crime aside."

December 6, 2002

Why request a special meal when you can have three-bean salad?

Last Meal:
Basden chose instead to eat what all others at Central Prison ate: Breaded veal, brown gravy, mashed potatoes, three-bean salad, mixed vegetables, slices of loaf bread, an orange and fruit punch.

The Skinny: Basden was executed nearly 11 years after he murdered an insurance salesman in a contract killing. Basden shot the man in a January 1992 murder-for-hire scheme devised by co-conspirators James Lynwood Taylor, his nephew, and Sylvia Ipock White, the victim's wife.

Basden and Taylor lured the victim to a remote logging road in Jones County under the pretense of buying insurance. There, Basden, drunk on alcohol and high on drugs supplied by Taylor, shot the victim twice with a single-shot shotgun. Taylor gave his cash-strapped uncle $300 for the killing.

Last words: Basden, a self-professed Christian, made a last statement asking his victim's family for forgiveness. "I killed Billy White, I'm sorry for it and I pray that his family will come to forgive me and let time heal their wounds and that's all we can do. There's got to be forgiveness for the healing to start and the only way to do that is through Jesus Christ."

Process Notes: Basden, lying on a gurney and covered by a sheet, made no eye contact with his family or any other witnesses as lethal doses of chemicals were administered to him intravenously. The 50-year-old Jones County man appeared to die in his sleep and without pain.

Meeting the Big Guy: In an interview Tuesday, Basden, who spent his last days ministering to fellow inmates, had said he expected to go to heaven if he died today. He said he wasn't sure what he would say to God when he got there. "I expect I'll be in awe for a few days," Basden said.

Factoids: Six jurors signed statements that they would have opted for life without parole if that sentence had been available. Such a sentence has since been approved by the Legislature in first-degree murder cases.

Basden was the 22nd criminal executed in North Carolina since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977.

December 11, 2002

You can't always get what you want. No, really, you can't....

Last meals:
Collier REQUESTED 30 jumbo shrimp with cocktail sauce, a baked potato, French fries, a T-bone steak, a chocolate malt, one gallon of vanilla ice cream and three cans of Big Red soda. He was GIVEN fried fish, chicken fried steak, baked potato and ice cream.

The skinny: James Collier was executed for shooting to death a mother and her son in misdirected rage. Mrs. Reed was visiting her son when a man
walked into the house with a rifle and began shooting. Collier apparently was enraged by one of Timothy Reed's roommates, Phillip Hoepfner, who was married to Collier's ex-wife.

Priors: Collier had served prison time for a number of other convictions before the murders, including the assault of carhop at a Sonic when he found out there was no salt in his bag.

"He beat the dog out of that boy," District Attorney Barry Macha said. "The kid testified during the punishment phase of the trial. He was 15, 16 years old and Collier was in his 40s."

Macha said there were numerous examples of Collier's extremely violent nature.

"We had another man testify during the penalty about an incident that wasn't tried from 1994, when Collier struck this guy in the face with a beer bottle," he said. "It took 380 stitches to close the gashes on his face. At one point in the 1980s (1987), his mother took out a restraining order against him. His own mother."

Final statement and the such: "The only thing I want to say is that I appreciate the hospitality you guys have shown me and the respect. And the last meal was really good. That is about it. Thank you guys for being there and giving me a little bit of spiritual guidance and support."

Factoids: Collier represented himself during his trial.

Collier was the 33rd convicted killer to have his execution carried out this year in Texas.

It also was the final execution scheduled for 2002 in Huntsville.

Texas has carried out 289 executions since resuming capital punishment in 1982.

Working overtime at DME: At least 14 executions are scheduled in Texas during the first three months of 2003.

December 11, 2002

No dining in the Magnolia state...

Last Meal: Williams ate nothing on his final day, forgoing even a last meal of his choice.

The skinny: Jessie Derrell Williams was put to death by lethal injection Wednesday for the 1983 rape and mutilation murder of an 18-year-old Jackson County woman.

Last statements: When asked if he had a final statement, Williams responded, "No, sir."

Packing for death row: Williams was transported to a 6-by-9-foot holding cell adjacent to the death chamber. An officer guards him at all times. In his cell, he is allowed only a red jumpsuit, standard attire for death row inmates; one set of underwear; and legal and writing material.

Factoids: The was Mississippi's second execution this year and the state's second in 13 years. Tracy Alan Hansen was executed in July by lethal injection. Before that the state had used the gas chamber.

The execution was delayed about 20 minutes while officials searched for a usable vein for the IV. A prison spokeswoman said dehydration contributed to the problem.

Williams declined to take a sedative, telling officials, "I say 'no' to drugs." He instead took two ibuprofen.

Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said prison officials had practiced the lethal injection procedure several times in the last week.

The Process: As a security measure, the penitentiary was placed on emergency/lockdown status Tuesday.

"It cuts down on unnecessary movement, (The other inmates) don't even get their hour of exercise. They don't get to leave their cells at all. Nobody moves."

At 6 p.m. today, six MDOC officers will escort Williams, whose hands and feet will be shackled, to the death chamber and strap him to a gurney. "If the inmate tries to resist, you have to have six people to take him down.

The penitentiary superintendent, a medical pathologist and a coroner also will be present. A microphone will be lowered over Williams' head in case he has final words.

A timekeeper and the executioner will be in a separate room. The IV runs from that room to the death chamber. Williams has asked that his body be donated to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

December 10, 2002

For my next song, I choooo.....

Last Meal: McCracken's last requested meal was fried chicken, a package of hard cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, cottage cheese, slice of cherry pie, and a two-liter bottle of Sprite.

The skinny: Jerry Lynn McCracken, 35, was executed by lethal injection convicted of murdering four people in a Tulsa bar robbery. McCracken and an accomplice, David Keith Lawrence, killed four people while robbing the Tulsa bar on Oct. 14, 1990. The pair took $350 in the robbery. They blamed each other for the shootings.

Dinner and a show: "I sincerely apologize to you. Please forgive me," McCracken said to the victims' families in his last words. But there were no victims' family members present to witness the execution, although they are allowed under Oklahoma law. His last words were lengthy, and included both individual greetings to his witnesses, and as the execution grew closer McCracken led his family in singing the hymn, "They That Wait Upon the Lord" as the lethal drugs were coursing through his body, and he appeared to lose consciousness while singing.

After the time of death was declared, his mother said, "Thank you, Jesus, for taking my boy home." His mother sang softly after the execution.

Factoids: McCracken was the fifth person in the state to be executed this year and the 53rd since executions resumed in Oklahoma in 1990. Two more executions are planned this month in the state. Since statehood, 136 killers have been executed in Oklahoma.

They That Wait Upon the Lord
(Kenny Carter)

They that wait upon the Lord
Shall renew their strength
They shall run and not be weary
They shall walk and not faint
They shall mount up with wings like eagles
They that wait upon the Lord

They that wait on the Lord
Shall be as Mount Zion
Which shall not be removed
But abideth forever
As the mountains are round about Jerusalem
So the Lord is around
His people forever


Let not the hand of the wicked
Rest on the righteous
Unless the righteous put forth
Their hand into iniquity
Do good oh Lord to them that are good
And unto them
That are upright in their hearts

December 10, 2002

Grub is cheap on death row!

Last Meal: Carter's last meal consisted of two cheeseburgers, a steak sub and two Cokes from the prison canteen. He declined to ask for a special last meal and paid $4.20 from his prison account for the food.

The skinny: Carter stabbed his elderly neighbor over a few dollars for drugs. Carter was intoxicated on alcohol, crack cocaine and tranquilizers when he stabbed Purdy 13 times with a butcher knife and took $15.

Last words and such: "I love you, pop," Carter mouthed to his father.

In a last statement recorded by the warden, Carter said: "The only thing I would like to say is that I apologize to the victim's family of Ms. Purdy and I would like to apologize to my family for the disappointment and pain I have caused them throughout my life."

THE HEATHENS!: The U.S. Supreme Court denied anappeal filed late Monday on the grounds that some jurors used a Bible during deliberations.

Factoids: Carter spent part of his last evening watching TV, requesting to see the "Billboard Music Awards" on Fox.

Carter was the 23rd person executed in North Carolina since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977.

December 9, 2002

Satan 1, Jesus Christ coming to bat...

Plus, Florida plays cheap with the grub...

LAST MEAL: Bottoson ate a regular prison meal that included beef patties, cheese and bread. He did not get a special meal because was given one on two other occasions when his executions were postponed.

The Skinny: Linroy Bottoson, an inmate who believed he was locked in a battle between Satan and Jesus Christ, was executed Monday for the kidnapping, robbery and slaying of a postmistress 23 years ago. Bottoson pronounced dead at 5:12 p.m. for the Oct. 26, 1979, murder of Catherine Alexander, who was robbed, held captive for 83 hours, stabbed 16 times and then fatally crushed by a car. Bottoson had three reprieves before one took.

Last Words and such: When asked if he had any last words, Bottoson said, "No sir, no." He accepted Valium before the execution, which was viewed by the victim's son and other family members.

RETARDED IN FLORIDA?: Psychiatrists who found that Bottoson understood that he was about to die and the reasons for his execution, two requirements under Florida law.

Dr. Wade Myers, a state psychologist, testified Monday in Orlando that while Bottoson sometimes hears God and believes if he were to stand at Alexander's grave God would resurrect her, that does not mean Bottoson is mentally ill.

"There are evangelists every Sunday who have large viewerships who say they're also receiving the same messages from God," Myers said. "I think when you begin to label fundamental Christian beliefs as psychosis, it's not justified."

Abe Bonowitz, director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, blasted the state's definition of ``competence.''

''You have to be a vegetable not to be competent for execution in this state,'' Bonowitz said before the execution.

OH, THE HORROR: Court documents show that Bottoson's mother was obsessed with religion and forced Bottoson to constantly read the Bible, pray, and preach from street corners from ages seven to nine.

FACTOIDS: An anonymous executioner pushed three syringe plungers sending a deadly mix of drugs into IV tubes needled into Bottoson's arms. He died quickly.

:( In 20 years in prison, Bottoson never had a visitor, other than his attorneys or the prison chaplain. Monday was no different.

No one claimed the killer's body either, and his ashes will be buried at the prison where he was executed.