Tuesday, September 26, 2006

August 18, 2006

Last Meal: Flippen had a final meal request of popcorn shrimp, hush puppies, french fries and a Coke.

The skinny: Flippen, 36, was executed for the beating death of his 2-year-old stepdaughter.

More skinny: Flippen lived with his wife, and her two-year-old daughter. When the wife left for work, Flippen and the little girl were alone. A call was placed to 911 by Flippen approximately 50 minutes later. Flippen stated that the child likely had fallen out of her chair and was having trouble breathing.

When EMS arrived they found the girl gasping for breath and nearly blue from lack of oxygen. She was pronounced dead nearly 30 minutes later. An autopsy revealed that she died from a fatal blow or blows to the abdomen that cut her pancreas in half against her spine and tore her liver. The injuries she sustained did not indicate a fall, but rather a homicide. It is believed that Flippen started beating his stepdaughter because she would not stop crying. Flippen never publicly admitted to the killing.

After finding Flippen guilty, the jury recommended a death sentence. The state Supreme Court overturned that sentence and ordered a second jury to consider Flippen's lack of previous criminal convictions. In 1997, the second jury also recommended a death sentence.

Legal Machinations: Hours earlier, a flurry of last-minute court fights ended when state judges and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected arguments to stop the execution. Flippen's request that his execution be delayed unless 45 family members can witness the event was denied. Gov. Mike Easley declined to grant clemency. A former prosecutor and attorney general, Easley has granted clemency only twice during his two terms in office.

Last words and such: Flippen did not make a final statement. He locked eyes with his parents, smiled and mouthed "I love you."

The victim's mother witnessed her former husband's execution. She said in a written statement that there was no such thing as closure but she would try to move on.

Factoids: Flippen was the...

37th murderer executed in U.S. in 2006
1041st murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
4th murderer executed in North Carolina in 2006
43rd murderer executed in North Carolina since 1976

The execution brought out Flippen's family and friends, who stood on one side of the street outside Central Prison with death penalty opponents, and relatives of the victim, who stood on the other side. The two groups did not exchange words. "We came tonight to make sure that everyone knows (the girl) is the victim here. Sammy chose to do what he did," Ben Streett, the girl's uncle, said as he stood on a street corner blocked by about a dozen prison guards. "He took from our family a precious, precious child."

Four death penalty opponents were arrested for crossing a police line onto prison property.

There are now 168 people on the state's death row.