Sunday, July 30, 2006

July 20, 2006

...executed in Virginia's electric chair ...

Last Meal: Hedrick had a final meal request of pizza with cheese, sausage and hamburger; french fries with ketchup; bacon; chocolate cake; and apple pie.

The skinny: Hedrick was executed in Virginia's electric chair last night for the slaying of a 23-year-old woman.

More skinny: While walking down the street at 1 a.m. in an area where prostitutes gathered, the 23-year old victim was abducted by Hedrick and Trevor Jones. Reportedly, the two were drinking bourbon and ingesting marijuana and crack cocaine.

The woman was robbed, put in Jones' truck and driven around before she was raped and then shot to death at short range with a shotgun. Her face no longer recognizable, her head wrapped in duct tape and her hands shackled, the woman was later found in the river. Upon arrest, Hedrick confessed to pulling the trigger. Accomplice Jones was sentenced to life in prison.

The Chair: Hedrick was the first person electrocuted in the United States in more than two years, and the first in three years in Virginia.

Only four of 72 Virginia killers have chosen the chair since Jan. 1, 1995, when they were given the option of injection.

The electrocution for the murder the mother of a 5-year-old boy and slain on Mother's Day -- was performed without complication.

Hedrick may have chosen electrocution because of concerns about pain accompanying lethal injection.

The Chair Procedure: Shortly before 9 p.m., Hedrick, his head freshly shaved, was led into the execution chamber. He appeared calm, wearing dark-blue prison pants with the right leg cut off at the knee and a light-blue shirt with the sleeves cut off. He was ushered into the electric chair and a half-dozen execution team members secured him stiffly upright with leather and nylon straps on his limbs and torso before asking if he had any last words.

A metal device holding a sea sponge soaked in brine was then attached to his right calf, and a wide strap with a hole for his nose but covering his eyes and mouth secured his head to the chair. A metal cap holding another brine-soaked sponge was strapped on the top of his head. Power cables were then connected to the head and leg.

A prison official turned a key on the wall activating the system and an execution team member viewing the chair through a one-way window pressed the execution button.

It was about 9:02 p.m. when Hedrick's body jumped up straight, straining against the straps, his fists clenched. A small amount of smoke briefly rose from his leg. His body briefly relaxed between the two 90-second cycles of electricity. Each cycle starts with about 1,800 volts at 7.5 amps for 30 seconds and then 60 seconds of about 240 volts at 1.5 amps. His body jumped and leg smoked at the start of the second cycle. After five minutes, a physician entered, put a stethoscope to Hedrick's chest and pronounced him dead.

Last words and such: Asked if he would like to make a last statement, Hedrick said: "I pray for everybody that believes in Jesus Christ in heaven, and I pray for the people that are unsaved that they will accept Christ because they know not what they do and will accept Christ one day. I am ready to go and be free."

Factoids: Hedrick was the...

31st murderer executed in U.S. in 2006
1035th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
2nd murderer executed in Virginia in 2006
96th murderer executed in Virginia since 1976

About eight protesters gathered outside the correctional center before the execution. Many were with Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. Katie Norberg said she had been a pen pal of Hedrick for more than six years, since she had been a student at Alexandria's West Potomac High School. "I really believe he is a good person. Nothing malicious about him," she said.

Virginia is one of 10 states that allows electrocution and it is required in Nebraska. As in many of those states, however, the electric chair has fallen largely into disuse. In 1995, the state passed a law allowing death-row inmates the option of choosing lethal injection. The chair was rewired in 1991 after a series of botched electrocutions in Virginia and other states in the 1980s.