Saturday, March 19, 2005

March 15, 2005

...five days from her first birthday...

Last Meal: Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, biscuits with honey butter, an apple pie, one pint of cherry ice cream and a large cherry limeade.

The skinny: Slaughter was executed for the July 2, 1991, murders of his girlfriend and their 11-month-old daughter whom he killed in a fit of anger when the victim filed a paternity suit against him.

More skinny: The infant was five days from her first birthday when she was shot twice in the head by a small caliber gun. The mother was stabbed in the chest, shot two times and her body was mutilated. One of the marks carved into her abdomen had the appearance of the letter R.

Slaughter set up an elaborate plan to get rid of the two. He had another woman he'd manipulated get him a pair of soiled men's underwear and hair clippings from an African American patient at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Oklahoma City.

Slaughter had maintained he was in Kansas at the time of the murders, that he was shopping with his wife and daughters in Topeka. Slaughter's alibi didn't hold up, that store employees remembered Slaughter's wife and daughters on that day but not him.

Instead Slaughter drove Kansas, killed the victim's, then drove back to Kansas, leaving the hair and underwear at the scene.

Slaughter maintained his innocence of the murders to the bitter end.

Legal Machinations: Slaughter tried to get his conviction overturned by submitting to a "brain fingerprinting" test by Seattle-based neuroscientist Larry Farwell. In the procedure, which the Harvard-educated Farwell says is accurate but has yet to gain much legal acceptance, the suspect is fitted with a headband-like sensor device, then shown photographs and other evidence from the crime scene. Seeing something familiar is said to trigger brain waves of recognition, which the sensor detects and flashes on a computer screen. Farwell told the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board in February that test results indicated Slaughter had not committed the crime, but the board members refused to grant him clemency.

Last words and such: "I've been accused of murder and it's not true. It was a lie from the beginning. God knows it's true, my children who were with me know it's true and you people will know it's true someday. May God have mercy on your souls."

No noise: In the minutes leading up to the execution, death row inmates typically bang on their cell doors, whistle and whoop as a kind of "last sendoff" for an inmate they like. Sometimes the banging and whistling is so loud it can be heard in the death chamber's witness room. Other times it's more muted, but can still be heard in the law library of H Unit, the portion of the prison that houses death row. At times the banging, whistling and whooping begins a half hour before the scheduled execution time and continues until long after the inmate is pronounced dead. But there was none of that Tuesday. Just silence.

Factoids: Slaughter was the...

11th murderer executed in U.S. in 2005
955th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Oklahoma in 2005
76th murderer executed in Oklahoma since 1976

Slaughter was the 160th person executed by the State of Oklahoma since 1915.

March 16, 2005

Last Meal: Hall's last meal consisted of a T-bone steak, shrimps, french fries, a milkshake and a salad with ranch dressing.

The skinny: Hall was executed for throwing a woman to her death off a Mississippi River bridge after stealing her car.

More skinny: Hall kidnapped the victim at gunpoint in a shopping mall parking lot as she arrived for work. Hall and an accomplice went to the mall to steal a car to use in a planned revenge attack on a rival.

The woman had been wounded and was struggling when Hall lifted her over the railing of the McKinley Bridge and dropped her into the river's freezing waters. Her body was recovered downstream seven months later.

At the time, Hall was on parole for wounding a 4-year-old girl while he was chasing and shooting at a man in St. Louis in 1987.

The accomplice was never charged.

Legal Machinations: The courts rejected Hall's final appeals that he was ineligible for the death penalty because he was mentally retarded based on 30-year-old intelligence test scores. More recent tests showed he scored above the threshold. Hall's attorney, Nelson Mitten, sought to halt the execution based on testing he recently discovered showing that Hall's IQ at age 7 as measured at 57. An average IQ is 100. Subsequent IQ scores for Hall were generally in the 70-75 range.

The U.S. Supreme Court banned executions of the mentally retarded in 2002, and Missouri issued a similar ban a year earlier. But there is no ban against executing the borderline mentally retarded.

Last Meals and such: Hall's final words were in the form of a written statement that read: "My statement to the Wood family is to let them know how truly and sincerely sorry I am for being involved with what I was and I'd like them to know that I'm sorry. Signed, sincerely sorry, Stanley Hall."

Eight of the woman's relatives, including her mother, 81, witnessed the execution.

Factoids: Hall was the...

12th murderer executed in U.S. in 2005
956th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Missouri in 2005
62nd murderer executed in Missouri since 1976

Hall was the first person put to death in Missouri since October 2003.

Missouri executed a modern-era record nine in 1999 and six in 2002.

Death penalty opponents demonstrated at several locations. A Catholic priest from St. Louis, the Rev. Carl Kabat, 71, of the Oblate order, was arrested when he attempted to enter the prison in protest.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play

The final meal request for Stanley Hall, Missouri, March 16, 2005

Hall requested a T-bone steak, shrimp, french fries, a milkshake and a salad with ranch dressing.

Complete skinny to follow...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play

The final meal request for Jimmy Ray Slaughter, Oklahoma, March 15, 2005

Slaughter requested fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, biscuits, apple pie and cherry limeade.

Complete skinny to follow...

Monday, March 14, 2005

March 11, 2005

...He then began to count down from 99...

Last Meal: At 5:30 p.m. Thursday night Powell had his last meal: A medium, thin-crust pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms and Canadian bacon from Domino's, and a hamburger with mustard, chili and onions from Wendy's and a 20-ounce Pepsi.

The skinny: William Dillard "Bugsy" Powell, 58, was executed for the Halloween 1991 slaying of a convenience store clerk.

More skinny: The victim tried to stop an unarmed Powell from robbing the store. She was hit over the head with what is thought to have been a tire iron, which was kept in the store but never recovered afterward. Powell's motive for the robbery was to get money to buy cocaine.

A customer discovered Mrs. Gladden’s body lying in a pool of her own blood.

Before the slaying, Powell had been honorably discharged from the Army and served as a volunteer with the rescue squad of the Shelby Fire Department, his lawyers say. He was an excellent caregiver to his autistic son and even helped the PTA at his son's school, they say. However, his lawyers say, Powell's life took a downward turn as he succumbed to drug and alcohol abuse. On the night of the killing, Powell was high on cocaine and Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, they say.

Would it be more severe in the other nine states? Powell was executed despite arguments from death penalty opponents that his crime would receive a less severe punishment in 40 other states. Ken Rose, director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham, which was assisting Powell's attorneys, said Powell does not deserve to be executed because he did not premeditate his killing and the only legally aggravating factor is attempted robbery. Forty other states would not allow an execution in such a case, Rose argued.

Last words and such: He declined to make a final statement and in the minutes before the lethal drugs were injected, Powell told his sister that he loved her. Execution witnesses were separated from Powell by a thick glass window. He turned quickly toward the back of the room and spoke with his executioners as they began to administer the lethal injection. He then began to count down from 99. His lips stopped moving about the time he reached 95.

Factoids: Powell was the...

10th murderer executed in U.S. in 2005

954th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in North Carolina in 2005
35th murderer executed in North Carolina since 1976

Death row in North Carolina is home to 178 men and four women. That includes four defendants who committed their crimes as 17-year-olds whose death sentences were thrown out last week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

No other executions are currently scheduled.

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."

Sunday, March 13, 2005

March 8, 2005

...a bowl of thick white gravy...

Last Meal: Hopper requested six eggs over easy, ten biscuits, twelve pieces of bacon, a bowl of grits, a bowl of thick white gravy, strawberry perserves, fried chicken, french fries and chocolate meringue pie.

The skinny: Hopper, 49, a former auto insurance appraiser, was executed for killing a Dallas-area physician's wife. He collected $1,500 for the murder.

More skinny: Hopper was condemned for being the hit man in a complicated scheme initiated by a woman bitter because her soon-to-be ex-husband was dating the murder victim. She had been raped, choked with pantyhose, shot twice in the head, had tissue jammed down her throat and was tied naked to a four-poster bed. Her then 4-year-old son found her unconscious. She died two days later.

The case: It was years, however, before police could unravel the case, which became one of the most intricate and complex ever in Dallas County and took authorities to Canada, Mexico and Europe.

Hopper was one of about a half-dozen people convicted of charges related to the scheme. Hopper had posed as a flower delivery man to get into his victim's house.

Hopper had no previous prison record but had been arrested in 1976 in Houston for indecent exposure and in 1984 for theft related to a pickpocket incident at a Richardson shopping mall. When initially questioned by police about the Gailiunas slaying, he fled and eluded detectives for six months.

Last words and such: Asked by the warden if he had a final statement, Hopper turned toward four members of his victim's family, including the son who discovered his mother's body, and said he was sorry. ``I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. The things I did changed so many lives. I can't take it back. It was an atrocity. I am sorry. I beg your forgiveness. I know I am not worthy of it,'' he said, his voice breaking with emotion. Then he turned his head toward a second window, where his parents were among those watching. He told them he loved them and thanked them ``for everything.'' Hopper said a brief prayer, which his mother repeated with him.

Factoids: Hopper was the...

8th murderer executed in U.S. in 2005
952nd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
4th murderer executed in Texas in 2005
340th murderer executed in Texas since 1976