Monday, March 14, 2005

March 10, 2005

..."And I will sleep well tonight." ...

Last Meal: Wallace requested steak, baked potato, french fries, cheese sticks, a fried onion, and a piece of chocolate cake from a local Damon's Grill.

The skinny: A quarter-century after he murdered an Evansville family of four during a botched burglary attempt, Donald Ray Wallace Jr. was executed by lethal injection.

More skinny: As attested by the admission of Wallace to friends after the fact, after burglarizing a home, he "got greedy" and decided to break into the house next door. However, when he did so, he was surprised to find the family inside. All four were tied up and shot in the head. Wallace would say to friends later that he shot the dad because he was "giving him trouble"; he shot the mom because she was screaming and he "had to shut her up"; and he shot the children because he "could not let the children grow up with the trauma of not having parents."

Wallace then took guns, a CB, a scanner, and other property, all of which was later recovered from or traced to Wallace. Wallace was found incompetent and confined in a mental hospital for almost 2 years prior to trial. His IQ was measured at 130.

Leading up to: In the weeks before his execution Wallace admitted that he had "faked" mental illness, and that he had in fact committed the murders.

The day of: Wallace visited with two friends. After a shower, he was led to a room next to the execution chamber. Wallace declined the chance to meet with a spiritual adviser, saying he preferred to be alone. He ate his last meal.

Last words and such: Staring through the miniblinds and into the execution chamber, his witnesses heard a short, simple statement: "I hope everyone can find peace with this." He then signaled to his executioners, as required by an agreement to not autopsy his body.

Factoids: Wallace was the....

9th murderer executed in U.S. in 2005
953rd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Indiana in 2005
12th murderer executed in Indiana since 1976
He is the 84th person executed by the state of Indiana since 1897.

Outside, about 15 death penalty opponents had gathered to protest. Marti Pizzini, 64, brought candles, leaflets, a few tables and some noisemakers. "I'm not very religious, but I believe you do not solve the problem of violence with more violence," said Pizzini, who said she has attended 10 execution protests.

The death penalty opponents braved a bitterly cold wind off Lake Michigan that kept many of them in their idling cars until the time for the execution drew near. Robert Dhoore, 64, South Bend, braved the elements long enough to carry two signs over to a small folding chair to claim his spot for a rally. A veteran protester at state executions, Dhoore came prepared. "I've got my two sets of pants, two sweatshirts. And I got a pail in the car just in case," he said. There are no public restrooms outside the prison.

It was not a sentiment shared by Mark Hamner, 37, an Indianapolis Police Department officer who drove to the prison with fellow officers Patrick Snyder, 30, and Chris Cooper, 34. They set up a camping stove on a card table and cooked hamburgers and beans for dinner. "We came up here to protest the protesters," Hamner said. "Most of the time, it's the protesters that get the press. We are here to show that the majority of this state does favor the death penalty."

At one point, three anti-execution protesters approached the officers and started a spirited but cordial debate. "How are we going to be more safe by killing this man?" asked Sean Napier, 40, a Michigan City hotel manager. "His next victim will be safe," offered Snyder. "Do you sleep well at night?" asked Pizzini, of the Duneland Coalition. "I sleep like a baby," Snyder replied. "And I will sleep well tonight."