Saturday, July 23, 2005

July 19, 2005

...Pennington left the store empty-handed when the register failed to open...

Last Meal: For his final meal, he requested a small vegetarian pizza, a large garden salad with Italian dressing, a hot fudge sundae, a bag of Oreo cookies and a pint of milk.

The skinny: Pennington, 37, who changed his name to Sharieff Sallahdin while at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, was executed for killing a store clerk during a 1991 robbery. He blamed it on steroid use.

More skinny: The former weightlifter and body builder was convicted in 1993.

Pennington, who was stationed at nearby Fort Sill, shot the man once in the back with a sawed-off, 12-gauge shotgun. After killing him, Pennington fired several times into a cash register and throughout the store.

Despite the killing and using all his ammunition, Pennington left the store empty-handed when the register failed to open. Police tracked Pennington to his wife's house in Akron, Ohio, where he was arrested.

Legal Machinations: Pennington has argued in court that the murder was a psychotic consequence of his steroid use. He said in appeals of the death sentence that the anabolic steroids, taken to enhance his weightlifting and body building regimen, altered his normal behavior and transformed him from a disciplined soldier into a fleeing killer.

Last words and such: Shortly before 6 p.m., the 5-foot-7 man was strapped to a gurney in the execution chamber.

Pennington's only comment was, "No statement." He then mouthed the words "I love you," to two family members who witnessed his execution.

Factoids: The next execution in Oklahoma is scheduled for Aug. 11. Kenneth Eugene Turrentine, 52, is scheduled to die that day for a Tulsa County killing spree.

Pennington was the....

20th murderer executed in U.S. in 2005
974th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
3rd murderer executed in Oklahoma in 2005
78th murderer executed in Oklahoma since 1976

Dan Rather's Last Meal from this month's Esquire....

...A small bowl of Jean Rather's chili. Then move on to beef barbecue or chicken-fried steak. Course you'd need a vegetable. Coleslaw. Sun tea. Home-cranked ice cream: chocolate. If permissible, I wouldn't mind preceding all that with a jigger or two of Wild Turkey...

Monday, July 18, 2005

July 12, 2005

...A book describing the dissection of a body was found on the bedroom floor...

Last Meal: Conklin requested a filet mignon wrapped with bacon; de-veined shrimp sautéed in garlic butter with lemon; baked potato with butter, sour cream, chives and real bacon bits; corn on the cob; asparagus with hollandaise sauce; French bread with butter; goat cheese; cantaloupe; apple pie; vanilla bean ice cream and iced tea. Prison officials said he ate the entire meal, cleaning two plates.

The skinny: Conklin was executed for stabbing his gay lover to death with a screwdriver and dismembering the remains.

More skinny: In March 1984, a maintenance man employed at Conklin’s apartment complex was collecting aluminum cans from the trash dumpster when he discovered dissected human body parts, knives, bloody bed clothes, screwdriver, rope, credit cards, a wallet and miscellaneous papers belonging to the victim, all encased in black plastic garbage bags. The body parts were identified as those of an attorney, who was acquainted with Conklin and had begun a physical relationship with him. When Conklin's apartment was searched, police found the bed clothing was missing and the mattress appeared to be blood-soaked. The jammed kitchen garbage disposal contained what appeared to be internal organs. The former McDonald's manager was arrested a few days later. When questioned, Conklin stated that he and the man were wrestling on the bed when he grabbed a screwdriver and stuck him, then pushed the screwdriver into his ear and wriggled the weapon around. Conklin admitted to dissecting the body and disposing of incriminating evidence in the dumpster. A book describing the dissection of a body was found on the bedroom floor. At the time of the murder, Conklin was on parole for Armed Robbery and Burglary.

Leading up to: In a hearing before the pardons board on Monday in Atlanta, defense lawyers argued that Conklin had acted in self-defense to prevent the man from raping him. "He is guilty of defending himself from rape and having the worst possible judgment after his attacker was dead," defense lawyer Don Samuel said in a clemency petition.

Defense lawyers also included in the petition documents that show Conklin led a productive life while in prison, attending church services and completing a bachelor of arts program offered by Western Illinois University. He even solicited pen pals on an Internet site sponsored by a group opposed to the death penalty.

Last words and such: Conklin had no final statement but did ask for a final prayer, after which he said "Amen." A friend of his, sat in the second row of witnesses. When Conklin was strapped to the gurney and before the chemicals were administered, he said "hello" and smiled at her. She waved back.

As the chemicals were administered he looked at her and said "Goodbye." His chest heaved and his head tilted backward, and the woman started crying uncontrollably and left the chamber.

Factoids: Conklin was the...

29th murderer executed in U.S. in 2005

973rd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
3rd murderer executed in Georgia in 2005
39th murderer executed in Georgia since 1976

Conklin was the 16th inmate put to death by lethal injection.
There are presently 110 men and one female on death row in Georgia.

A Model Letter from Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Please sign and print your name to the letter and include your return address, particularly if you live in Georgia -- this carries a special weight. And please send appeals so that they arrive before July 11 (when the Board convenes the clemency hearing) - fax is a good method.

**Please fax letters before Monday morning!**

Please include your name and mailing address – especially if you live in Georgia (this will add weight to your letter).

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles
Floyd Veterans Memorial Building
Balcony Level, East Tower
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, S.E.
Atlanta, GA 30334-4909
Via facsimile 404-651-5282

Dear Members of the Parole Board,
I am writing to you in regards to the upcoming execution of Robert Conklin. My sympathies go out to the family and loved ones of George Grant.

However, Conklin should not be executed because he did not receive effective assistance of counsel. His lawyer was not given enough time or resources to adequately prepare for trial. The 11th Circuit acknowledged that the trial court should have granted Conklin resources for expert testimony and a continuation in order to prepare for trial. Conklin's attorney had a mere 37 days to prepare for a highly complex case.

Conklin also suffers from mental illness and endured a violent childhood. The execution of a mentally ill person is a profound human rights violation made even more alarming when the defendant was not afforded appropriate representation at trial. Furthermore, there has been no hard evidence to repute Conklin's claims that he acted out of self defense.

Please do all that is with in your power to spare the life of Robert Conklin. Thank you for your time and consideration.