Tuesday, November 15, 2005

November 4, 2005

...These guys are no longer scared to be put to death ....

Last Meal: Wise's final meal request was lobster tail, french fries, cole slaw, banana pudding and milk.

The skinny: Wise was put to death by lethal injection for killing four workers at an Aiken County plant in September 1997 out of revenge for being fired.

More skinny: After 4 years working at the Aiken Lawn Mower Ignition Plant, Wise was fired after a violent confrontation with a supervisor. He returned to the plant weeks later for revenge.

A ecurity guard watched Wise pull up in his car at the 3 p.m. shift change and, armed with a semiautomatic pistol, Wise fired a bullet into the man's chest, yanked out the phone lines in the guard shack and told the guard "I got things to do."

Entering through a side door, witnesses testified Wise went directly to the personnel office and shot a 56-year-old man twice in the back. The man had fired Wise two months earlier. Next up was the tool and dye area, where Wise had hoped to work. He began firing his pistol at everyone around, killing a 30-year-old and a 31-year-old and wounding two others. By then, panicked workers were scrambling to get out.

Wise kept going, finding a 27-year-old woman, who got a quality control job he wanted. He shot her in the back and leg, then put a bullet in her head. After that, Wise's path seemed random. He fired several more shots, but no one else was killed. Investigators found four empty magazines, capable of holding eight bullets each. Wise tried to commit suicide in the plant after the shootings by drinking insecticide, but it only made him sick.

At trial, he refused to let his lawyers call any witnesses to ask the jury to spare his life and has brushed off any attempts to appeal since he was sent to Death Row.

Psychiatrists testified Wise came back to the plant several weeks after he was fired because he was angry and felt he was a victim of racism. Wise was black and his four victims were white.

Last words and such: Wise had no final words.

Factoids: Wise was the...

48th murderer executed in U.S. in 2005
992nd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
2nd murderer executed in South Carolina in 2005
34th murderer executed in South Carolina since 1976

Wise was the sixth person put to death in South Carolina without using all their appeals since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. All have died by lethal injection instead of the electric chair, and Savitz said that’s not a coincidence. “Lethal injection has changed the dynamic of the whole thing,” Savitz said. “These guys are no longer scared to be put to death.”

Nationwide, 117 of the 989 inmates, or nearly 12 percent, put to death since the death penalty was reinstated had appeals left.

The numbers fluctuate from year to year. In 2004, 10 of the 59 executions were done on volunteers. In 2003, it was just four deaths out of 65.

November 4, 2005

...Steckel sent a copy of the victim's autopsy to her mother...

Last Meal: Steckel has a last meal of cheese steak, cole slaw and Pepsi.

The skinny: Brian Steckel was executed for a 1994 rape and murder.

More skinny: Steckel met the 29 year old victim approximately one week before her murder. Steckel gained access to her apartment by asking to use her telephone. Once inside, he pretended to use the phone, then demanded sexual favors. When she refused, Steckel beat her and threw her onto a couch.

During the struggle, she bit Steckel’s finger causing it to bleed. Steckel then strangled her with a pair of nylons then a sock, causing her to lose consciousness. Steckel then sexually assaulted her, first using a screw-driver he brought with him, and then by raping her anally. He then dragged her to the bedroom and set the bed on fire, then fled the scene.

Later the same day, the News Journal received an anonymous phone call from a male who identified himself as the “Driftwood Killer.” The man named his next victim by name. The News 4 Journal contacted the police, and the police brought the woman into protective custody.

The woman had previously reported to the police that she had been receiving harassing phone calls with a “very lurid, very sexual” content. The authorities had traced these calls to Steckel. Steckel was arrested in connection with an outstanding harassment warrant for the phone calls to the woman. During the interview, Steckel confessed in detail to his crimes against the victim, as well as other murders.

During his trial, Steckel sent a copy of the victim's autopsy to her mother, writing "Read it and weep. She's gone forever. Don't cry over burnt flesh."

Last words and such: He repeatedly apologized for his crimes, professed love for his family and supporters and said he accepted his punishment. ”I want to say I’m sorry for the cruel things I did. I’m not the same man I was when I came to jail. I changed. I’m a better man . . . I walked in here without a fight and I accept my punishment. It is time to go. I love you people.” He also told his cousin and a friend who were witnesses to his death to tell his 12-year-old daughter, “I said no excuses.”

Steckel’s execution seemed to take longer than usual, said witnesses who had seen previous executions in Delaware. Steckel spoke for nearly 12 minutes, whereas other executions have generally taken about three minutes. Twice, before he closed his eyes, he said “goodbye” and appeared to brace himself, only to look around and continue talking. At one point, he looked up at warden Thomas Carroll to say, “I didn’t think it would take this long.”

Prison officials said there was no malfunction or problem with the execution. Carroll just allowed Steckel more time.

Factoids: Steckle was the...

47th murderer executed in U.S. in 2005
991st murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Delaware in 2005
14th murderer executed in Delaware since 1976

About 60 demonstrators staged rallies for and against the death penalty outside the prison. Among them was Johnny Hall, 43, one of two men who tried in vain to pull the victim from her burning apartment. Hall was carrying a sign that said, "I was there. I watched her die." "I feel that this man needs to die, and I'm out here to make sure that my opinion is out here," he said.