Friday, June 24, 2005

June 7, 2005

Last Meal: Martinez requested a cheeseburger, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes with gravy, bacon, orange juice, fried steak, a fried pork chop, onion rings, french fries, a quarter fried chicken and a bowl of shredded cheese.

The skinny: Martinez, 28, was executed for the robbery and fatal stabbing of a prostitute at a Houston house almost four years ago.

More skinny: Only out of prison for 3 weeks following his parole on a seven year attempted murder sentence,
Martinez called the victim, a prostitute, and made arrangements for her to meet him at his house for $300. Upon arrival, the woman and Martinez argued about the amount and whether he was going to pay. When it became clear that Martinez either had no money or was not going to pay her, the angry woman started to leave, but Martinez stuck a knife against her neck and attempted to have sex with her. She struggled and Martinez slashed her throat, causing her death. He then took $150 from her. Two days later, her nude body was found stuffed inside two garbage bags in a Houston field. "I regret I made that call," Martinez said, insisting it was the first time he had sought the services of a prostitute. "I was sort of curious."

Two weeks later, Martinez slashed his stepmother's throat in an unprovoked attack, but she survived. Martinez was arrested later the same day and admitted both slashings. When police searched Martinez's bedroom the next day, they found blood on the bed frame, wall, floor, closet shelves and door. Some of the blood was from the dead prostitute.

Martinez later had the following tattooed on his arm: "RIP, August 12, 2001, $300, Helen Joyce Oliveros. In 2004, Martinez waived all further appeals.

Leading up to: Partly out of fear that he will kill again, partly out of dread of spending his life behind bars, Martinez said in a recent death row interview that he wants to die. "Maybe not now," he said, "maybe not in 10 years. But someday, maybe 20 years from now, somebody would set me off. I give my life freely."

To the consternation of his appeals attorney, Houston lawyer Pat McCann, the killer has insisted that all efforts to save his life be halted. "I think Alexander's life still has value," he said. "I wish he would change his mind."

Last words and such: In a statement while strapped to the death chamber gurney, he thanked his family and friends and expressed his love for them. "And thanks for the friends at the Polunsky Unit that helped me get through this that didn't agree with my decision and still gave me their friendship." In a handwritten statement he prepared about two hours before his death, Martinez acknowledged that "I have caused so much pain to so many people. I especially want to apologize to my victim's family for the life I took. I am only taking full responsibility for what I have done. I am truly sorry and, though some may not believe this, God only knows the truth and for that I know that's all that matters. I am ashamed for what I've done!"

His English-born wife by proxy and a sister-in-law were the only witnesses.

Factoids: Martinez was the...

28th murderer executed in U.S. in 2005
972nd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
9th murderer executed in Texas in 2005
345th murderer executed in Texas since 1976

Statistics show an increasing number of death row inmates in the United States are seeking to halt the automatic appeals that accompany their death sentences and often take years to complete. Of the nearly 1,000 people executed in the last three decades, one in eight asked for their appeals to be dropped, although last year the rate rose to one in six. Experts have cited increasing tough living conditions in prison where the death row inmates are kept in constant isolation as a possible reason for the increase in "volunteers" for the death chamber.

June 2, 2005

...her attorney was drunk during parts of her trial....

Last Meal: Henderson jokingly said that, for his last meal, he'd like to go to Red Lobster. Instead, he ate regular prison fare of fish, coleslaw, baked beans and French fries.

The Skinny: Henderson, 58, was executed for the 1984 shooting death of a Talladega man whose wife paid $3,000 for the killing.

More skinny: On New Years Eve, Henderson and his wife threw a party. Excusing himself from his guests, Henderson said he was not feeling well and went to lie down in a back bedroom. He sneaked out of a bedroom window, went to the home of his wife's sister, lured her husband outside the house, and shot him dead with a shotgun. He returned to the party with a ready-made alibi. Three years later, his wife came forward and admitted to police that her sister had paid Henderson $3,000 to murder the man. Upon arrest, Henderson, a maintenance mechanic with a seventh-grade education, confessed to the murder-for-hire plot. Both Henderson and the sister-in-law were convicted and sentenced to death. The woman had her sentenced reduced to life imprisonment after it surfaced that her attorney was drunk during parts of her trial.

Leading up to: Henderson's 28-year-old son, Jason, visited. The last time they had seen each other, the son was 11.

As his execution date neared, Henderson did not fight his fate. He declined to seek clemency from Gov. Bob Riley. Death penalty opponents appealed to the governor but were told that the clemency request must come from the condemned.

Last words and such: "I just want to say that I am very sorry for the pain that I have caused. I pray the family of Jerry Haney can find it in their heart one day to forgive the pain I have caused them. I pray they find peace and love in the Lord Jesus Christ as I have, because that's the true peace. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ that I'm fixing to see him face to face."

Factoids: Henderson was the

27th murderer executed in U.S. in 2005
971st murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
2nd murderer executed in Alabama in 2005
32nd murderer executed in Alabama since 1976

Thursday, June 23, 2005

May 25, 2005

...(he wanted Oreo pie, but they were out)...

Last Meal: Johnson ate his traditional last meal Monday with his attorneys. He had ribs, pulled pork, sauteed mushrooms, soda and chocolate cheesecake (he wanted Oreo pie, but they were out). For his attorneys, he ordered pizza.

The skinny: Johnson was executed for stomping an 82-year-old woman to death in 1985.

More skinny: A newspaper delivery boy noticed the home of the 82-year-old victim on fire and roused a neighbor to call police. He returned but could not enter the home due to the fire and smoke. Firemen were able to put out the fire in about a half hour. The 82-year-old was found 5 feet from the front door with broken bones on her nose and cheek and 20 fractured ribs. Her larnyx and spine were also fractured.

An autopsy revealed that she died as a result of these injuries and not fire or smoke inhalation. A dispatch was sent out that Johnson was a suspect in several fires in the area. Johnson was seen by officers watching the firemen fight the fire and was arrested for Public Intoxication. In custody, Johnson initially denied any involvement, but admitted setting 4 recent fires in the area.

During a later interrogation, Johnson was asked if by killing the woman he was trying to join his friend on death row. Johnson became emotional and gave a full confession.

The liver saga: Johnson drew national attention in recent weeks when he asked for at least a delay of his execution to determine whether he could donate a section of his liver to his 48-year-old sister, who suffers from nonalcoholic cirrhosis.

Gov. Daniels said he did not question Johnson’s sincerity. “If his proposal had turned out to create a clear, demonstrated medical advantage to his sister, I might well have considered a brief postponement to seek a way to fulfill the request,” Daniels said in his statement. “The advice of medical experts, including Debra Otis’ own specialist, was definitive that she should not pursue a procedure with Mr. Johnson as donor, but rather will be better served by accepting transplanted organs through the conventional process.”

In a one-page letter to Gov.Daniels on Tuesday, Drs. A. Joseph Tector and Dr. Hwan Y. Yoo, both of Clarian Health Partners in Indianapolis, stated that "quite apart from any legal, ethical or other questions, Gregory Scott Johnson is not a medically appropriate organ donor for his sister, Debra Otis."

In their letter, the physicians stated Johnson was an unsuitable donor due to his exposure to hepatitis B, his obesity and unspecified "hereditary factors."

The physicians also stated they did not want to jeopardize the Clarian Transplant Center's compliance with guidelines set by the United Network for Organ Sharing, which has "a clear position against allowing condemned prisoners to donate organs."

Transplant requests from death row prisoners in the United States have occurred before, though they are unusual, according to Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. In 1995, aDelaware case a condemned man donated a kidney to his mother, and returned to death row. In Alabama, a prisoner awaiting execution won permission for an organ donation, but he was not a correct match, Dieter said. In a Florida case, an inmate was denied a request to donate a kidney to his brother. The condemned man was later exonerated and released from jail, but his brother died waiting for a transplant, Dieter said.

The victim's relatives agreed that far too much attention had been given to Johnson. Her great-niece, Julie Woodard, wants Johnson to be known as the cold-blooded killer, not someone who tried to donate his liver to his sister. "I want him to be remembered as a man who viciously beat a sweet woman to death -- not the man who tried to save his sister, but the man who killed (an 82-year-old woman)" Woodard said.

Last words and such: "Everyone has been professional." After the execution, a handwritten statement from Johnson was distributed. In it, he expressed hope that his sister would survive even without his liver. "There are those who claim that Debi will have a new liver three weeks after being placed on the list. I'll be watching from above and expect her to be recuperating at that time." He was critical of the Indiana Parole Board for refusing to believe he sincerely wanted to help his sister, that he could have changed in 20 years. The board, he wrote, violated the Indiana Constitution, which states the penal code is "founded on the principles of reformation, and not of vindictive justice." He then thanked others for their prayers. "I'll see you on the other side."

Factoids: Johnson was the...

26th murderer executed in U.S. in 2005
970th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
3rd murderer executed in Indiana in 2005
14th murderer executed in Indiana since 1976

About 20 protesters had gathered outside the prison several hours before the execution for a candlelight vigil. "Deep inside, there are spiritual values in all people," Marti Pizzini, Michigan City, said at the vigil. "We are on the side of right, and we will prevail."

Unlike at some past executions, there were no pro-death penalty demonstrators at the prison.

Johnson is the third inmate in Indiana executed this year, the most in one year in the state since 1949.