Friday, December 13, 2002

December 12, 2002

Goodbye Yellow Mama...

Plus...a vending machine sandwich?!

a sandwich from a Holman Prison vending machine.

The Skinny: Anthony Johnson was executed for his role in the 1984 shooting death of a jeweler became the first Alabama inmate executed by injection. Johnson was not the triggerman in the robbery. Others who took part in the robbery have never been charged. At Johnson's trial, jurors voted 9 to 3 for life in prison without parole, but Morgan County Circuit Judge R.L. Hundley chose not to accept that recommendation and imposed the death sentence.

Johnson's case first gained notoriety when, to aid the prosecution effort, authorities had to get a court order to remove a bullet lodged in his back. They concluded the bullet was consistent with the victim's weapon, putting Johnson at the crime scene.

Final Words and such: At 5:53 p.m., corrections officers opened the curtain to the execution chamber where Johnson lay strapped to the gurney. He waved at witnesses and smiled. Johnson, 46, did not give a final statement. He acknowledged the presence of his pastor and a friend in the witness room and told the warden, "I'd just like to say to my friends I loved them. But they all know that I loved them."

Factoids: Lethal injection became Alabama's primary method of execution under a law passed earlier this year, leaving only Nebraska with the chair as the sole means to execute condemned inmates. Alabama's electric chair, known as "Yellow Mama" for its color, has been used since 1927.

The warden injected 6 different syringes, one after the other.

Death row inmates now have a choice--electrocution, which is supposed to be instantaneous, or lethal injection, a process which prison officials expected to take 7 to 12 minutes.

Johnson was the first to be executed in Holman's remodeled death chamber. Alabama spent $185,000 this year to create a new execution chamber for injecting prisoners.

Officials said there are 285 inmates on Alabama's death row.