Wednesday, April 09, 2003

April 9, 2003

"This man has expired."

Last Meal: no requests for his last meal, was offered the same dinner served yesterday to all inmates: sloppy Joes, boiled potatoes, corn and chocolate cake.

The skinny: Bramblett was executed for murdering four members of a family. He had been living with the family when their bodies were found in their burning home. Prosecutors argued that he killed the family because he was sexually obsessed with one of the girls.

Protester: Bramblett was executed in the electric chair, a method he chose over lethal injection as to protest what he considered his wrongful conviction.

Chair Facts: Once a widely used means of execution, electrocutions have become rare in the United States. Only Nebraska still requires the use of the electric chair. Many states, such as Virginia, give prisoners the option of the electric chair or lethal injection.

Evidence: Bramblett was linked to the killings by matching crime-scene bullets with others in his possession. A fellow prisoner who testified that Bramblett told him he killed the family and that he was "addicted to little girls," now says he lied. "I'm not going to lay down on a gurney and have them stick a needle in my arm and make it look like an antiseptic execution," Bramblett said. At trial, prosecutors tied him to pubic hair found in the girls' bed. Tapes played at the trial depicted his sexual attraction to the oldest daughter.

Bramblett argued that the evidence against him had been planted or fabricated.

Last words and such: "I didn't murder the Hodges family. I never murdered anybody. I'm going to go to my death with a clear conscience. I'm going to go to my death having had a great life because of my two great sons, Mike and Doug."

Inside Baseball stuff: A Department of Corrections official then turned a key switch in the wall behind the electric chair, activating the system. An executioner sitting behind a one-way glass immediately pressed a button labeled "execute" and 1,800 volts surged through Bramblett's body, the surge of current caused Bramblett's body to go rigid and threw him against the back of the oak electric chair. A puff of smoke rose from the electrode attached to his shaved right leg.

After waiting five minutes, Dr. Alvin Harris, a corrections physicians, walked into the death chamber and placed his stethoscope against Bramblett's chest.

"This man has expired."

Factiods: Bramblett was the first person executed in Virginia this year and the 88th put to death in the state since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed executions to resume in 1976. He was the third Virginia inmate to die in the electric chair since 1995, when a state law gave condemned prisoners the choice of lethal injection or electrocution.

Virginia officials estimate that the state's homemade oak chair has been used since 1908. It is tested about once a month.