Wednesday, January 07, 2004

January 6, 2004

Better Dying Through Chemistry....

The skinny: Singleton, 44, was executed for the October 1979 stabbing and killing of a grocer.

Legal machinations: Years after his conviction, Singleton was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He had been taking anti-psychotic medication voluntarily for some time. His attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, had argued that treatment was no longer in his client’s best interest because it made him eligible for execution.

In the fall of 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of Singleton’s sentence. That action left in place a split Feb. 10, 2003, ruling from the 8th Circuit. In the decision, the court majority said states can administer anti-psychotic drugs to control a prisoner’s behavior, even if doing so renders the prisoner eligible to be executed.

A CNN reporter interviewed Singleton a week before his execution and found him to be expectedly paranoid, ranting, and raving. However, the journalist found the murderer easily able to understand that he was about to be put to death for the murder he committed, and thus by the legal standard, sane.

Final words and such: For his final words, Singleton said "I was going to speak but I wrote it down. I’ll leave it up to the warden." Afterward, a copy of the letter, which was indecipherable spiritual gibberish, was given to the media. It said, in part, "The blind think I’m playing a game. They deny me, refusing me existence. But everybody takes the place of another. As it is written, I will come forth as you go."

In the warden's office at the prison, the victim's son, daughter, nephew, and two granddaughters watched the events on closed-circuit television, but did not appear for the press afterwards. Families of perpetrators, if they show up for the execution, are held at a roadblock a mile from the prison's entrance.

Factoids: A full moon illuminated the ice-cold prison courtyard as volunteer executioners administered final earthly justice for Charles Singleton, 44, also known as Victor Ra Hakim.

Singleton was the state’s longest-serving death-row inmate. This was the seventh execution date for Singleton. In 1980 he came with 7 days of execution, in 1982 he came within 18 days once and within 3 days on another occasion, within 11 days in 1993, two days in 1998, and six days in 2001. He spent just over 23 years on death row.

Inmates on death row in Arkansas total 39, with 16 white, 22 black, and one Hispanic, all males. Arkansas has executed 194 persons in it history: 134 black males, 57 white males, two Indian males, and one white female. While 173 of those were murderers, 20 were rapists and one was both.

Singleton was the....
2nd murderer executed in U.S. in 2004
867th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Arkansas in 2004
26th murderer executed in Arkansas since 1976