Saturday, December 14, 2002


New York's last execution was in 1963...

Eddie Lee Mays earned a place in history on Aug. 15, 1963, when he was strapped in the electric chair at Sing Sing, becoming the last person to be executed by state sanction in New York.

Mays, 34, was the 695th person to be executed in New York State since 1890, when the state first established death by electrocution.

He declined the customary last meal and instead asked for a pack of Pall Mall cigarettes.

Mays was convicted of fatally shooting Maria Marini, 31, during a robbery at the Friendly Tavern at 1403 Fifth Avenue in Harlem.

Mays also was part of a gang that confessed to committing 52 robberies in a six-week period.

According to news accounts at the time, Mays walked into the bar with two associates and collected $275 from the bartender and several customers.

When Marini was slow in turning over her purse, Mays reportedly became angry, grabbed her purse and grew more irate when he found it empty.

“I ought to kill you,” witnesses reported him as saying. Mays then put his gun to Marini’s forehead and pulled the trigger.

From 1930 to 1967, when the death penalty came to an end in the state, New York was ranked third in the country in the number of executions, with 329, behind Georgia and Texas.

Gov. George Pataki signed the death penalty back into law in 1995.

Electrocution is no longer used as a means of execution, replaced by lethal injection.