Wednesday, August 16, 2006

August 8, 2006

...See ya later, gator...

Last/Special Meal: For his last meal, Ferguson had three t-bone steaks cooked medium rare, two breaded chicken breasts with a side of ranch dressing, chocolate ice cream and Mountain Dew.

The skinny: Ferguson was executed for the Christmastime murders of three elderly, disabled Dayton residents in 2001.

More skinny: Following his conviction for burglary, Ferguson served time in a drug treatment program and received a 2-day pass on December 21, 2001. His murder spree began four days later on Christmas Day in Dayton when he attacked and killed a disabled relative with a kitchen knife. Ferguson stole two televisions and a radio that he sold to buy crack cocaine. The next day, Ferguson broke into the home of an elderly couple who were his former neighbors, attacked them with a kitchen knife, then beat and stomped them to death.

Ferguson waived his right to a jury, pled guilty to all charges, and waived his right to presentation of any mitigating evidence. A court-appointed clinical psychologist then conducted an evaluation of the defendant and deemed him competent of standing trial.

Young Ferguson...Ferguson, who grew up in Dayton, frequently wandered the streets and spent nights in warehouses and alleys. He said at age 9 he began huffing - inhaling chemical vapors to achieve a feeling of euphoria. He started drinking at 15 and using crack cocaine at 18.

A real fun guy...Ferguson called Satan his lord and said he enjoyed killing the three people, keeping his promise to show the family of his victims no remorse for stabbing and beating them and stomping on them with steel-toed boots.

Last words and such: "Mom, Dad, I love you both. I love you a lot. I wish you all the best." Ferguson, who previously said he worshipped Satan, made a sign that some consider to be a symbol of the devil as he died. While he was on the lethal-injection table — with his left arm extended palm up — he extended his index and little fingers to make the sign and held that pose for several minutes before lapsing into unconsciousness.

Afterward, there was as little sympathy for Ferguson as he showed his victims, one of whom was on crutches, another had cancer, and a third was in a wheelchair.

Factoids: Ferguson was the...

34th murderer executed in U.S. in 2006
1038th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
4th murderer executed in Ohio in 2006
23rd murderer executed in Ohio since 1976

Ferguson's family will donate his body to Wright State University for biological study.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

August 3, 2006

Last Meal: Wyatt has no final meal request.

The skinny: Wyatt, a former county jail officer, was put to death for raping and smothering the 3-year-old son of his girlfriend.

More skinny: Wyatt lived at the home of his girlfriend and her 3-year old son. Wyatt babysat the boy after taking his girlfriend to work.

At about 6:07 p.m., Texarkana police received a 9-1-1 call from Wyatt, asking for an ambulance for an accidental drowning victim. When emergency personnel arrived, the boy had no pulse and was not breathing. He was then taken immediately to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead. The medical examiner concluded that the boy was smothered to death. In a statement to authorities, Wyatt stated that he sexually assaulted the boy. Then, believing that the child had placed something in a light socket, he whipped him with a belt. When he began screaming, Wyatt placed a plastic bag over the child’s face until he stopped screaming.

Authorities determined the boy had been sexually assaulted, both in the past and just before he died.

Wyatt says: Wyatt, 41, said he might have been irresponsible in leaving the little boy alone to drown in the bathtub of his Texarkana home 9½ years ago, but didn't kill the toddler.

Wyatt contended his statements to police were coerced.

Wyatt, a Detroit native, was known to his fellow death row inmates as "Motown."

Last words and such: In a brief final statement, Wyatt Jr. thanked relatives for their support. "I went home to be with my father, and I went home as a trooper,'' he told them. Then he addressed his victim's father and grandmother, who watched through a window a few feet from him. "I did not murder your son,'' Wyatt said. "I did not do it. I just want you to know that. I did not murder Damien, and I would ask for all of your forgiveness, and I will see all of you soon.''

Factoids: Wyatt was the...

33rd murderer executed in U.S. in 2006
1037th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
17th murderer executed in Texas in 2006
372nd murderer executed in Texas since 1976

Texas has nine executions scheduled for the rest of 2006, with three of those set for August.

Monday, August 14, 2006

July 27, 2006

...the three inmates practiced an ancient Norse religion called Asatru...

Last Meal: Lenz had no final meal request.

The skinny: Lenz was executed for killing another inmate.

More skinny: Lenz was serving a 29-year sentence for burglary and weapon possession. The victim, a fellow inmate was a convicted murderer serving a 50-year sentence. Along with 3 other inmates, they held a meeting of the Ironwood Kindred, a group practicing the Asatru religion, a faith based on worship of Nordic Gods.

The guard assigned to watch the group was stationed outside the meeting room. Lenz read poetry and afterward called the victim to a pagan altar set up for the gathering. He confronted the man about their longstanding friction and pulled out a knife. Three other inmates ran out of the room saying, “They’re stabbing him.” The guard immediately entered the room to see Michael Lenz and Jeffrey Remington stabbing the victim. He died as a result of 68 stab wounds.

Both Lenz and Remington were sentenced to death after separate trials. Remington committed suicide while incarcerated in 2004. Lenz testified that he killed the victim for religious reasons. The man had been opposed to Lenz forming the Ironwood Kindred. Lenz stated that the reason that he attacked the victim the way that he did was because he had threatened to kill him twice before and that the fight broke out mutually. Jeffrey Remington had jumped in the fight unprovoked.

The reason why...Remington said in a 2001 interview that he killed the man because he was "disrespecting the gods" and because of a history of friction between them. Lenz said the man blasphemed by "saying that he was teaching Asatru but what he was teaching was not Asatru."

About Asatru...Asatru has been gaining popularity among inmates, say religious leaders and prison experts who believe its roots in Viking mythology attract prisoners seeking power, protection and unity. The gang culture in prison also contributes, said theologian Britt Minshall, a former police officer and Baltimore pastor who ministers to inmates. Some white inmates who felt threatened by black prison gangs formed their own gangs and sought out a belief system they felt would provide additional security, he said. "It's a way of grouping together for safety," he said. "And you have to have a god in the middle of that to really keep you safe."

Asatru is often referred to as Odinism, although some followers believe the two are separate religions. It is a polytheistic, pre-Christian faith native to Scandinavia whose adherents worship gods including Thor and Odin. It emphasizes a connection with one's ancestors and values honor, loyalty, generosity and truth. An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 people in the United States consider themselves Asatruars or Odinists, said Stephen McNallen, director of the Asatru Folk Assembly, a leading Asatru group. No national statistics are kept on how many inmates follow Asatru. But experts say its popularity enjoyed a boost from the Supreme Court, which last year sided with an Asatru inmate by upholding a federal law requiring state prisons to accommodate prisoners' religious affiliations. Asatru is often associated with white supremacy, although most Asatru leaders bristle at suggestions of such a relationship. A 1999 FBI report on domestic terrorism described Odinism as a "white supremacist ideology that lends itself to violence." "What makes Odinists dangerous is the fact that many believe in the necessity of becoming martyrs for their cause,"

"It's a theology that celebrates raw physical power and domination, and that is why I think it is so popular among prison inmates. The kind of inmate who might be attracted to this is a white man who is looking for justification for extreme violence, who is looking for an ideology which explains why he should be the boss."

The appeals: Attorneys for Lenz had argued that their client's right to a fair and impartial jury was violated because jurors consulted a Bible while considering whether Lenz should be sentenced to death. At least one juror recalled that the Bible passages referred to by the jury indicated death is the appropriate punishment for murder, the appeal said. However, during an evidentiary hearing, the jurors said the Bible did not influence them, and appeals courts had rejected the contention that it violated Lenz's rights.

Last words and such: Lenz gave no last statement.

Factoids: Lenz was the...
32nd murderer executed in U.S. in 2006

1036th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
3rd murderer executed in Virginia in 2006
97th murderer executed in Virginia since 1976

In a field outside the prison last night, four death-penalty opponents held a vigil. They carried candles, and just before 9 p.m., they began ringing a bell that they had brought. They rang it 97 times, once for each person who has been executed in the state since the death penalty resumed.

Including Lenz, Virginia has executed 333 inmates since 1908.