Friday, February 14, 2003

February 13, 2003

Clemency recommendations ain't what they use to be....

Last meal: Fried catfish.

The skinny: Fields killed a woman during a burglary. He was executed despite a recommendation from the state parole board that he be given clemency. After a night of drinking and using cocaine, Fields broke into the victim's house to steal her television and videocassette recorder so he could sell them for money to purchase crack cocaine. But she walked in with a gun and the two scuffled. Fields shot the 77-year-old woman as she tried to flee.

Last words and such: Fields smiled at his sister and his cousin, then told his two attorneys witnessing the execution to "stay strong. You all keep fighting." Fields also asked his cousins to take care of his son and told his sister: "Baby girl, stay strong and hold the family together." "Let's get this out of the way," Fields told prison officials before they injected him. A minister read Biblical scripture and inmates could be heard banging on their cells before Fields was pronounced dead by an attending physician.

Mixed Messages...Fields' attorneys argued during his clemency hearing that he should be spared because he had no advance intention of killing Schem. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 in favor of clemency, with one abstention. Gov. Brad Henry denied clemency.

Factoids: Field's execution was the second in Oklahoma this year and the 57th since the state resumed executions in 1990. Six more Oklahoma death row inmates have execution dates scheduled in the next 60 days.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Urine, Feces and Darts...a normal day on California's Death Row.

From the SFGate...


...For the first time in 30 years, journalists got a glimpse of conditions inside Death Row -- three antiquated buildings at San Quentin State Prison that house 614 condemned inmates.

The visit was part of a campaign by prison officials to drum up public support for a $220 million bond for a new Death Row facility -- despite a $26 billion shortfall projected for California's budget this year.

...Condemned prisoners arrive faster than they leave. About 30 new Death Row inmates arrive each year, and their appeals typically stretch out about 20 years. But executions average about one per year.

...Outside on one of the exercise yards, inmates shoot hoops or play cards for six hours a day. Some puff on cigarettes lit from a slow-burning "wick" -- tightly rolled toilet paper that a guard ignites because inmates aren't allowed to have matches. Some prisoners grouse about conditions, or yell out questions to a correctional officer.

....Lt. Art Munoz says work in this unit is especially dangerous and stressful. He points to the solid doors on several of the revamped 40-square-foot cells. On the other side of the unit, older style doors are covered with metal grates, and officers slide a plastic shield in place for protection from inmates, who sometimes fling urine, feces or darts from their cells. "This is the kind of job that anything can happen," Munoz said.

....On Tuesday, some inmates on Death Row argued against spending money on a new facility for people who are scheduled for death. "They should spend the money on education or on the legal defense fund to help people like me who are innocent," said one 32-year-old condemned convict.

...Death Row inmates have more privileges than the other prisoners at San Quentin, which houses about 5,966 convicts. The best-behaved condemned are allowed an unlimited number of phone calls, contact visits and quarterly boxes of candy, cigarettes, soup and other treats. If the convicts assault staff or another inmate, those incentives are curtailed.

read the rest...full of nuggets..

Since our eyes are usually on Texas, the show-me state of Missouri tried to slip a diner past us. They didn't.

February 5, 2003

Double K's last day...

Last Meal: steak, shrimp, salad and a baked potato.

The skinny: In 1984, Kenley went on a crime spree that ended with one man dead and a woman shot in the back.

The spree...After robbing a liquor store in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, Kenley grabbed a female bystander and forced her into his getaway car. He shot her in the back as she jumped from the car to escape. Kenley then robbed a tavern, where he shot Ronald Felts in the head, killing the 27-year-old hospital X-ray technician. After the murder, Kenley attempted to kidnap the owner of the bar, but she escaped unharmed. Kenley then went to a nearby motel where he attempted to shoot the motel operator, but the gun did not work. Kenley exchanged gunfire with police in Arkansas and eventually surrendered, telling officers who arrested him, "You all were lucky."

Last words and such...Kinley's last words were personal messages to witnesses. He looked at the five witnesses he chose to attend the execution. He mouthed words to them and nodding after one of the women said, "I love you."

He's sick and dumb! Kenley's backers pressed that their client be spared on grounds that prison officials were "cruel and unusual" in failing to treat a liver-attacking disease he contracted behind bars. They also claimed he was too mentally unfit to be executed.

Factoids: It was Mizzou's 60th execution since capital punishment resumed in the state in 1989. Kenley was the first in Missouri since former governor George Ryan in neighboring Illinois commuted the death sentences of all that state's death row prisoners. Behind bars, Kenley was less than a model prisoner, logging 61 conduct violations that included eight assaults.

Unrelated Factoid: As a young man, one of the DME editors used to drive over an hour to Popular Bluff to dance at an underage disco. While there, hopped up on Fun Dip and Mountain Dew, he would pretzel and hustle the night away. No one was ever killed.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Justice delayed is justice denied...

Get fried, then get fried...

February 12, 2003

Dead like a Fox....

Last Meal: a cheeseburger with lettuce, pickle, onion, tomato, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise along with french fries and a Pepsi. He did not eat his breakfast of coffee, apple juice, toast, dry cereal and peanut butter and jelly

The skinny: Fox was convicted of stabbing and strangling a college student 14 years ago after luring her to a fake job interview. He set up a fake job allegedly selling restaurant supplies and met her in a hotel lobby. Keckler then got into Fox's car, supposedly to check out businesses where supplies could be sold. Her body was discovered four days later in a ditch.

Legal machinations: Fox's attorneys had argued his sentence should have been changed to life in prison because he did not intend to kill Keckler, and that he tricked women only to meet them. His attorneys argued that Fox was not the ``worst of the worst'' criminals for whom the death penalty is intended.

Final words and such: Fox, a heavyset, balding man, entered the death chamber at 10 a.m., wearing blue prison-issued pants with one red stripe down each leg, a white cotton shirt and brown shoes. He made no final statement. Fox had spent the hours leading up to the execution with family members and he was upbeat.

Field Trip!!! Students from Roman Catholic high schools in Cleveland and Cincinnati joined anti-death penalty protesters outside the prison. School officials said 125 students made the trip.

Factoids: Fox had confessed to the killing. It was the state's sixth execution since it resumed executions in 1999.
The injection Fox was to receive consists of sodium pentothal, which induces unconsciousness; pancuronium bromide, a muscle relaxant that stops breathing; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003


From the NYTimes (reg. req.), a look at the Razorback state....


State Can Make Inmate Sane Enough to Execute

The federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled yesterday that officials in Arkansas can force a prisoner on death row to take antipsychotic medication to make him sane enough to execute. Without the drugs, the prisoner, Charles Laverne Singleton, could not be put to death under a United States Supreme Court decision that prohibits the execution of the insane.

Yesterday's 6-to-5 decision is the first by a federal appeals court to allow such an execution.

"Singleton presents the court with a choice between involuntary medication followed by an execution and no medication followed by psychosis and imprisonment," Judge Roger L. Wollman wrote for the majority in ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Judge Wollman said the first choice was the better one, at least when the drugs were generally beneficial to the prisoner. He said courts did not need to consider the ultimate result of medicating the prisoner.

"Eligibility for execution is the only unwanted consequence of the medication," he wrote.

Read the whole thing...a whole lotta gray area in this one.


The first in our last meal's of celluloid death-rowers...


Last meal: 2 Fluffernutter sandwiches (see recipe below) and strawberry milk... Cyril expresses regret that he neglected to ask for Rolaids.

Happily, the slow-witted Cyril was spared at the last moment when Warden Leo Glynn got the call that the State Supreme Court was issuing a stay. Cyril's brother, Ryan was visible relieved.

Marshmallow Fluff
Peanut butter (smooth or creamy)
2 slices bread

Spread peanut butter onto one slice of bread. Cover with Marshmallow Fluff. Top with second slice of bread.

Monday, February 10, 2003

and from the world of theatre.....

In the NYTimes (reg. req.)....

Kristin Davis plays a death-row inmate... In unrelated, but equally odd casting DME editor new speedo model...

The skinny: Kristin Davis has made the leap from ingenuous gal about town in HBO's "Sex and the City" to death-row inmate as Sunny Jacobs in the play "The Exonerated."

Yoga prowess aside, there is not much common ground between the glossy life experience enjoyed by Kristin Davis, instantly recognizable as Charlotte York, the ingenuous component of that gals-on-the-prowl quartet in HBO's "Sex and the City," and the egregious life experience endured by Sunny Jacobs, the death-row inmate Ms. Davis now portrays nightly downtown in the play "The Exonerated."

...Sunny went to prison in Florida in 1976 for 16 years, 7 of them spent in solitary confinement, after being falsely convicted, with her husband, of shooting two police officers. He was electrocuted for the crime. Wrenched away from her two young children, she was exonerated in 1992, more than a decade after another man confessed to the killings. She taught herself yoga in prison and now teaches it to others.

..."Terrifying — I was afraid I'd bring the whole play down," chirps Ms. Davis, more vivacious than va-voom. But she's already plotting another Sunny stint after this one concludes on Feb. 9. "The Exonerated," she says, hooks you in. More mind-boggling than those orgasms the "Sex and the City" girls are forever chattering about? Much.

"It's so intimidating to read people's real words, and you kind of want to try to live up to it and do justice to them, if that's even possible for an actor to do," she says, her brown eyes gone wide from the effort of communicating the connection she has come to feel to Ms. Jacobs after reading a rash of court transcripts.

"The message of the play, and I hope I don't cry as I say this, is that it takes a lot to be alive, and to be open," says Ms. Davis, 37, striking a sober pose on her living room sofa. "It's not a downer about capital punishment. Really, it's about a joyous kind of overcoming of the odds; the people in the play went through an unthinkable experience and have grown from it." ....


First, from the world of film...

Hollywood fights death penalty at Berlin film fest

Duh.. Opponents of capital punishment have won support from Hollywood with the release of "The Life of David Gale," a thriller starring Kevin Spacey.

The Plot: (Warning: Credibility Suspension Needed) Spacey plays Gale, a renowned Texas philosophy professor and campaigner against the death penalty who is himself sentenced to death for allegedly raping and murdering a young fellow-campaigner.

Just three days before the lethal injection, he invites ambitious magazine journalist Bitsey Bloom, played by Kate Winslet for an interview and asks her to help him prove his innocence. What follows is a series of flashbacks and a frantic search for the truth with last-minute twists adding to the tension as the clock ticks.

The Artists Speaks....British director Alan Parker, whose past films include Angel Heart, Mississippi Burning and The Commitments, said he expects the film to stir fresh discussion about capital punishment in the United States when it opens there on February 21.

"We know the film will probably provoke a debate which will be helpful to the issue," Parker told a news conference on the second day of the 53rd Berlinale.

...Spacey said statistics showing the death penalty was not an effective deterrent to murder spoke for themselves. "But I've never had my sister murdered and I have no idea what that must be like, to have one's life and family torn apart," he said.

Let's Ask McVeigh....Spacey said relatives of people killed in the Oklahoma City bombing who had watched Timothy McVeigh's execution had "the biggest, strangest anti-climax because he was put to sleep. Is it really a penalty? Does it work?"