Tuesday, May 02, 2006

April 27, 2006

...the father of a crime victim said Kaine would not have executed Adolph Hitler..

Last Meal: Earlier in the day, Vinson requested that his last meal not be released to the public.

The skinny: Vinson, 43, was executed for abducting and killing his former girlfriend. The victim, a 25-year-old mother of three, bled to death. She was abducted, sexually assaulted, stabbed and suffered head injuries.

More skinny: The nude, mutilated body of the victim was found in a vacant house. She had been abducted the morning before by her ex-boyfriend, Dexter Vinson. She had lived with Vinson for more than a year but had moved out a few weeks before her death. On the morning of her abduction, she had gone back to the home she once shared with Vinson to retrieve mail. Upon seeing Vinson, the victim attempted to drive away. Vinson followed in his car, ramming her car from behind until she stopped. After he beat her, the two drove away to a nearby boarded-up house where she was dragged inside and sexually mutilated, suffering massive cuts and tears to the genital area. She also suffered multiple deep cuts to her neck, forearms, trunk and buttocks and blows to the head and face. Fingerprints in the car and the vacant home, and a match of the woman's DNA with bloodstains on Vinson's shorts linked him to the crime.

The Governor: As a candidate for governor, Kaine, a Roman Catholic, said that while he opposes the death penalty because of his religious beliefs, he would enforce the law. The Vinson case was Kaine's first test of that pledge, and the strain of the decision was evident during his monthly call-in show on a Washington radio station this week. "The pressure of trying to make the right decision about whether there is or is not doubt about guilt when somebody's life is at stake is so much more pressure than whatever the political pressure that there would be that the politics of it has not even come onto my radar screen," Kaine said on Washington Post Radio. "I take very seriously the decision, and that pressure makes whatever political pressure there would be just seem like nothing."

Kaine's Republican opponent in the governor's race, former attorney general Jerry W. Kilgore, had repeatedly slammed Kaine for his stance on the death penalty, and ran ads featuring the victims of heinous crimes. In one, the father of a crime victim said Kaine would not have executed Adolph Hitler. But Kaine responded with ads of his own, in which he vowed to enforce Virginia's capital punishment laws. "My faith teaches life is sacred," he said to the camera. "But I take my oath of office seriously, and I'll enforce the death penalty." The campaign-trail bashing proved a boon for Kaine, whose public declarations about his personal faith appeared to bolster -- not hurt -- his numbers in the polls and helped lift him to victory in November.

Last words and such: Vinson entered the chamber two minutes before his scheduled execution. He offered no resistance as several guards strapped him to the gurney. Watching him through a thick, wire-reinforced window in an adjacent room were six citizens who volunteered to witness the execution, as well as journalists and law enforcement officials. Asked if he had any last words, Vinson shook his head and declined to make a statement. The blue curtain to the witness chamber closed, and reopened eight minutes later.

Factoids: Vinson was the...

16th murderer executed in U.S. in 2006

1020th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Virginia in 2006
95th murderer executed in Virginia since 1976

At Greensville Correctional Center last night, death-penalty opponents protested outside after an earlier demonstration in front of the governor's office. Three protesters set up signs and posters in a field, and said they expected a couple of more to join them.

The Richmond rally yesterday afternoon had drawn only two protestors a half hour after it.

There have been 94 executions in Virginia since 1976, when the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the death penalty to resume. The toll is second among the states to Texas, which has executed 362 killers.