Saturday, August 28, 2004

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August 26, 2004


Last Meal: For his final meal, Allridge requested a double-meat bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and salad dressing. He also asked for shoestring OR crinkle-cut French fries with ketchup and banana pudding OR banana pudding ice cream and watermelon OR white seedless grapes.

The skinny: James Allridge, whose case attracted attention of celebrity capital punishment opponents, was executed for killing a Fort Worth convenience store clerk 19 years ago.

More skinny: Allridge and his older brother, Ronald Allridge, left their apartment to rob a convenience store in East Fort Worth. Allridge and his brother drove to a Circle K store where James Allridge used to be an employee of the store.

Ronald dropped his younger brother off at the store and drove around the corner to wait for him. The victim, a store clerk, had locked the doors to the convenience store since it was closed for the night. Allridge approached the front door and requested change to make a telephone call.

Because he had worked with Allridge at the store, the victim made change for Allridge, who left the store after pretending to use the telephone. After getting back to the car around the corner from the store, Ronald accused his younger brother of “chickening out.”

Allridge decided to go back to the store. The clerk again opened the doors for Allridge. When he did, Allridge pointed his pistol at the attendant and forced his way into the store. Once inside, Allridge took the man to the storeroom, tied his hands behind his back, and proceeded to empty the cash register and safe of $300. He went back to the storeroom, and finding that the man had moved, forced him to his knees and shot him twice in the back of the head, execution style.

Crime SPREE! Allridge committed seven other aggravated robberies after the robbery and murder. He was involved in the robbery-murder at a Whataburger in Fort Worth, wherein his older brother Ronald received the death penalty. (Executed in 1995)

The birth of the murderabilia law... While on death row, James Allridge made art prints and greeting cards. He sold the items, many of which depicted flowers, on an internet web site set up and operated by sympathizers. According to the web site, proceeds went into Allridge's legal defense fund.

In 2001, the state legislature passed a "murderabilia" law, which was intended to prohibit convicts from profiting from the sale of items in connection with their inmate status. In July 2003, Allridge's web site received international media attention when actress Susan Sarandon, who had been pen pals with Allridge for 8 years, visited him on death row. Andy Kahan, a crime victims' advocate who was a driving force behind the 2001 law, filed a formal complaint with TDCJ and with the Polk county district attorney's office, asking them to shut down Allridge's site. At the time of Allridge's execution, the request was still under investigation.

Hollywood loves the murderers....The previous month, Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon visited with Allridge for two hours. She would not comment except to say she was trying to maintain "a low profile." But in response to the reaction of the victim's family to her visit, she released a written statement Thursday. "My heart and prayers go out to the Clendennen family. They have suffered a terrible loss, one that I would not presume to know. I hope they have found a way towards healing from the senseless murder of Brian Clendennen. My friendship with James Allridge in no way diminishes my feelings of sympathy for the Clendennen family. It merely reflects the fact that James Allridge is a human being and is more than the worst act that he has ever committed," the statement said.

For 17 years, Shane Clendennen has waited for justice after his brother's killer was sent to death row. When James Vernon Allridge III was finally been assigned an execution date on Aug. 26, Clendennen cannot understand why Susan Sarandon made a special trip to death row to visit Allridge. Death penalty opponents say she wants his sentence commuted to life. "How would she feel if someone tied up her child and shot him in the back of the head, then she had to watch him on life support for three days until he died?" asked Clendennen, 34, a machinist from Fort Worth. "She should not have a voice in this unless she has gone through that kind of pain and loss."

Last words and such: Allridge thanked his family and friends for loving him and expressed remorse. "I am sorry. I really am. You, Brian's sister, thanks for your love. It meant a lot. Shane, I hope he finds peace. I am sorry I destroyed you all's life. Thank you for forgiving me. To the moon and back. I love you all. I leave you all as I came - in love."

Sister Helen Prejean, the New Orleans-based nun of "Dead Man Walking" fame, was among the people who witnessed the execution. She whispered a brief prayer after Allridge slipped into unconsciousness and comforted Allridge's relatives.

Factoids: During 17 years on death row, Allridge earned a college degree.

Two other sets of brothers have received lethal injection in Texas, which by far leads the nation in carrying out the death penalty. Prison records show four pairs of brothers were put to death in the 1920s and 1930s, when the electric chair was the method of punishment.

Allridge was the....

42nd murderer executed in U.S. in 2004
927th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
12th murderer executed in Texas in 2004
325th murderer executed in Texas since 1976

August 26, 2004's the kid killers that really stay with us....

Last Meal: Workman's last meal was a barbecue meat plate and unsweetened iced tea.

The skinny: Windel Ray Workman, 46, was executed nearly two decades after he beat a 2-year-old to death.

Workman long maintained his innocence and claimed the bruises were caused by the girl's falls from her bed and in the bathtub. Later, he claimed that her mom or grandmother were at fault.

Testimony, including Workman's, indicated he had sole custody of the girl during the time her injuries occurred. Court records show he had a history of abusing the child.

Workman had said the girl's head trauma, body bruising and internal bleeding were caused by accidental falls, rough playing and a hard spanking.

More skinny: The two year old was the daughter of Workman's live-in girlfriend. She was brought to a emergency room on January 10, 1987 and pronounced dead upon arrival. Hospital personnel observed numerous bruises on the face, chest, back and buttocks, and suspected child abuse.

Workman told police that the girl had fallen backwards out of bed the night before. He also admitted to spanking the child hard, leaving bruises on her body. He played "pitch" with her, in which he threw the girl up in the air and caught her.

Expert testimony, however, unanimously concluded that her injuries could not have resulted from these activities alone and she was not a child who bruised easily. The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

Final words and such: Workman's final words included thanks to his attorneys.

"Steve (Presson), Robert (Jackson) -- thanks for everything you've done," he said. "I appreciate it. Keep up the good fight. You understand what I'm saying? OK. Lets go."

As he was injected with a lethal mix of drugs, Workman's eyes twitched and closed. He exhaled heavily through his mouth and snorted. Workman's torso heaved 19 times before he died.

Workman's last words were not the ones the victim's mother, wanted to hear. She was disappointed her former boyfriend did not show remorse or apologize.

"This isn't about Windel by any means," she said. "It's about my daughter." "It's just been a long time coming, and I really thought it would never come," she said.

Factoids: Workman in 1987 became the first person in Oklahoma County sentenced to die for child abuse.

More than 80 inmates are on Oklahoma's death row.

Before he was executed, other death row inmates banged their doors in rhythmic booms to show solidarity with Workman in a gesture they sometimes use before death sentences are carried out.

Workman was the....

41st murderer executed in U.S. in 2004
926th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
6th murderer executed in Oklahoma in 2004
75th murderer executed in Oklahoma since 1976

August 25, 2004

..."he had sold his soul to the devil...

Last Meal: Busby requested fried chicken breasts, jalapenos, barbecue ribs, catfish with tartar sauce, a medium steak, french fries with ketchup, plain M&M's candy, cherries, strawberries, and a peach. He also had milk mixed with chocolate syrup.

The skinny: Busby, 28, was put to death by lethal injection for murdering two teen-agers while high on drugs in 1995 in a Jacksonville, Texas, mobile home. He also critically wounded another.

More skinny: Busby went to buy donuts for breakfast. When Busby returned, he was accompanied by Darrell Smith. Some members of the group, including Busby, took turns shooting an assault rifle outside the cabin and smoking marijuana. Around ten o’clock that night, Busby and Smith went outside the trailer. The male victim, who was still inside the trailer, heard them loading a gun, then was shot as he opened the door. Busby then shot two others. Busby took the man's wallet, car keys, and $15.00, then drove off in his truck with Smith.

The police took Busby and Smith into custody within an hour after an officer spotted the truck on the highway nearby. Busby had a clip of bullets in his pocket, and later admitted to the shootings. The male victim, who survived the shooting, testified that three days before the shootings Busby said that he had sold his soul to the devil.

Last words and such: In a final statement while strapped to a gurney in the death chamber, Busby thanked his family and spoke to one of the victim's parents.

"I want to tell everyone, my family, thanks for standing by me. I want to tell Mr. and Mrs. Gray and everyone that I didn't do what I did to hurt you all. I am sorry that I did what I did. I don't think you know the true reason for doing what I did, but Brandy and I had a suicide pact and I just didn't follow through with it. That did not come out in the trial. I am not trying to hurt you by telling you this. I am trying to tell you the truth. I want Cindy to know that I know she is out there - and Vicente Hernandez that I love them. Thank you for all you have done and I want to make sure you are all right. After saying that, Busby said he was ready and that he would "see you later." Busby remarked as the lethal drugs begin to flow, "Here it comes. I can feel it." He took a couple of breaths, closed his eyes and then slipped into unconsciousness.

Factoids: Busby was the...
40th murderer executed in U.S. in 2004
925th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
11th murderer executed in Texas in 2004
324th murderer executed in Texas since 1976

August 19, 2004

...good driveways make good neighbors...

Last Meal: French fries with lots of ketchup, tossed salad with French dressing, a cheeseburger with mayonnaise and tomato, Saltine crackers and apple pie.

The skinny: James Hudson, 57, was executed by for the shotgun slayings of three relatives in rural Virginia two years ago after a long feud over the maintenance of a shared driveway.

The dispute over the driveway began after Hudson's father sold a parcel of land to the victims. Hudson maintained the right to use a road that ran through the property to get to his home, but he frequently complained that they were not taking care of it.

Hudson was arrested after a 23-hour manhunt.

No legal machinations: Hudson pleaded guilty to the July 3, 2002 murders and refused to let his lawyers file any appeals on his behalf. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, there have been at least 105 such so-called "volunteers" executed since the US Supreme Court allowed executions to resume in 1976.

The day before: Hudson did not meet with any family members, clergy or his lawyers

Last words and such: Hudson shuffled to the gurney with the help of two guards, who supported him under his arms. He was wearing a light blue button-down shirt and dark blue pants and brown slippers. His gray hair was neatly combed.

With 16 officials in the execution chamber, Hudson was placed on the gurney and immediately surrounded by six members of the Execution Team, who strapped him to the table. Two other members of the Execution Team watched Hudson intently as he was shackled to the table with leather straps binding both ankles, his thighs, chest, waist and wrists

Asked if he had any last words, Hudson told Warden George Hinkle in a clear voice, "No sir." Hudson "seemed very calm, very quiet. He seemed pretty resigned to his fate."

Factoids: Hudson was the...

39th murderer executed in U.S. in 2004
924th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
4th murderer executed in Virginia in 2004
93rd murderer executed in Virginia since 1976

Thursday, August 26, 2004

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The final meal request for James Vernon Allridge, Texas, August 26, 2004.

For his final meal, Allridge requested a double-meat bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and salad dressing. He also asked for shoestring OR crinkle-cut French fries with ketchup and banana pudding OR banana pudding ice cream and watermelon OR white seedless grapes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

this is an audio post - click to play

The final meal request for Jasen Busby, Texas, August 25, 2004.

Busby requested fried chicken breasts, jalapenos, barbecue ribs, catfish with tartar sauce, a medium steak, french fries with ketchup, plain M&M's candy, cherries, strawberries, and a peach. He also had milk mixed with chocolate syrup.

The skinny on Mr. Busby and Mr. Hudson will be forthcoming shortly....Thursday at the latest.