Friday, February 29, 2008

September 12, 2007

..."Don't worry about it."...

Last meal: Holton had no final meal request. He ate what was served to the other inmates: riblets on a bun, mixed vegetables, baked beans, white cake with white icing and iced tea.

The skinny: Holton, 45, was executed for the killing his three sons and their half-sister with an assault rifle.

Holton was the first inmate executed in the electric chair in Tennessee since 1960.

More skinny: Holton, a Gulf War Veteran, he lined up his 4 children at his uncle's auto repair garage and shot them with an SKS assault rifle, two at a time.

It was the first time in several months Holton had seen his children, aged 12, 10, 6 and 4. He told them they were going Christmas shopping, instead stopping at the garage.

After the murders, Holton walked into the Shelbyville Police Department and announced what he had done. Responding officers found the bodies of the four small children, along with pipe bombs that Holton said were intended for his wife and her home.

There was a long history between the two of domestic and custody disputes.

The chair: Holton chose the electric chair over the state's preferred execution method of lethal injection. Under Tennessee law, death row inmates can choose, if their crimes were committed before 1999. Even though the state had not performed an electrocution in nearly 47 years, the execution occurred without any serious delays or mistakes.

Last words and such: Asked if he had any last words, Holton replied, "Um, yeah — two words: I do."

Prison officials then placed a wet sponge and metal plate on Holton's head. During the process, Holton kept his eyes closed. As officials used a towel to wipe away water from the sponge, Holton said, "Don't worry about it."

A black shroud was placed over Holton's head and a cable was connected to the bottom of the chair. Around 1:16 a.m. CDT, a 20-second shock was administered. Holton's back straightened and his hips moved up out of the chair before he slumped back. After a 15-second pause, Holton was given a second shock that lasted 15 seconds. He was pronounced dead seconds later.

But despite worries from many, including the chair’s builder, Fred A. Leuchter Jr., that the device would not work properly or, even if it did, would fail to execute someone humanely, Holton appears to have felt little to no pain and appears to have been the recipient of enough electricity to kill him during the first surge of 1,750 volts of electricity, said media witnesses to the execution.

A prison spokesman said Holton sustained first- to- second-degree burns on his head and his ankles, which served as the contact points for the current. “That was not an unexpected finding,” Levy said. “The burn marks around his head and his legs were very similar to a severe sunburn.” The burns were caused by the generating of heat produced by the electricity, Levy said, adding that the burns would have emerged toward the end of the electrocution cycle.

Factoids: Holton was the...

40th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1097th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
2nd murderer executed in Tennesee in 2007
4th murderer executed in Tennesee since 1976

Holton came within a day of execution a year ago before a federal appeals court issued a stay.

Before the execution, about 40 people, all death penalty opponents, gathered outside Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. Some sat in lawn chairs and others sipped coffee, while a few read Bible passages to themselves. One man sang while playing an acoustic guitar.