Wednesday, January 19, 2005

January 19, 2005

He won't be back...

LAST MEAL: Beardslee refused a special final meal. He was offered the same meal as other inmates of chili, macaroni, mixed vegetables, salad and cake, which he declined.
His only request was for a glass of grapefruit juice earlier in the afternoon.

THE SKINNY: Beardslee was executed by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison for killing two young women in 1981 while on parole from an earlier murder conviction. He shot a 23-year-old mother of two in the face with a shotgun and slit the throat of a 19-year-old girl, killing both. Prosecutors said the women were killed in revenge for a $185 drug debt claimed by another man.

LEGAL MACHINATIONS: At a state clemency hearing in Sacramento, defense attorneys asked Schwarzenegger for mercy in the case, saying that Beardslee suffered from previously undetected brain damage that caused him to commit the two 1981 murders as well as the fatal stabbing of a Missouri woman in 1969 for which he served seven years in prison.

They also questioned the competence of one of his Redwood City trial lawyers, who read Bon Appetit magazine during part of Beardslee's testimony.

But Schwarzenegger rejected the brain damage theory, noting that Beardslee functions at a very high level, earning "A's, Bs and Cs when he attended the College of San Mateo while he was on parole for the Missouri murder."

But Schwarzenegger said Beardslee's apparent mental impairment did not prevent him from helping to plan the killings, acting purposefully during the crimes and trying to cover them up. The governor cited evidence that Beardslee told an accomplice to buy tape to bind the victims, helped to wipe down a van to remove fingerprints and, along with another man, pulled down one victim's pants to make the crime look like a sexual assault.

"These actions show Beardslee's consciousness of guilt and the nature and consequences of the murders he committed,'' Schwarzenegger wrote. "There is no question in my mind that at the time Beardslee committed the murders he knew what he was doing -- and he knew it was wrong.''

In an extraordinarily detailed statement, Gov. Schwarzenegger said: "Nothing in his petition or the record of his case convinces me that he did not understand the gravity of his actions or that these heinous murders were wrong."

Shortly after the governor's rejection, the U.S. Supreme Court without comment denied Beardslee's application for a stay. That cleared the way for Beardslee's execution at 12:01 this morning, the state's 11th execution since voters reinstated the death penalty in 1978 and the first under the Schwarzenegger administration.

THE LEAD-UP TO: Beardslee spent the last day of his life smiling and talking to his legal team and conferring with his spiritual advisor.

Not until the hour approached midnight did the condemned killer show any recognition that his time was up.

"He (Beardslee) was very relaxed during the daytime; very talkative and smiling with his legal counsel," said a prison spokesperson. "He seemed to still have hope that there might be some intervention. It was only when we told him that in five minutes all his visitors would be asked to leave that his demeanor changed."

Last words and such: By the time the 61-year-old Beardslee, wearing a new blue prison work shirt and denim trousers, reached the octagonal execution chamber — designed as a gas chamber — he appeared pale and frightened. He was allowed to carry his personal Bible into the execution antechamber.

He offered no resistance as four prison guards strapped him to a gurney in the cramped space. He did not whimper or call out when prison medics struggled for nearly 15 minutes to find veins on both arms.

Beardslee moved his head and yawned deeply as the drugs began to take effect. Three minutes after that, he stopped breathing.

Beardslee made no last statement.

California: California leads the nation with 640 inmates on death row, but ranks 18th in executions performed since 1976. Texas ranks first in executions with 337, and second in inmates on death row, with 455 sentenced to death.

Because of the complicated appeals process, condemned California prisoners wait an average of more than 20 years between the date of sentencing and execution. In fact, most inmates on the state's death row die of natural causes.
Factoids: A local reporter, one of 13 journalists who witnessed the execution, fainted and was carried out of the room by guards. It was not the execution, she said later, only that she had not eaten since the morning.

As about 300 opponents of the death penalty held a vigil outside the prison.

Demonstrators who had massed outside the prison earlier in the day to protest the execution grew silent as the hour of Beardslee's death approached. For roughly 20 minutes after the execution was slated to began, the protesters drifted away down the streets of Point San Quentin Village, walking slowly and silently back to cars they had parked as much as a mile away.
One death penalty supporter carried a sign reading "Bye Bye Beardslee."

Beardsley was the...
2nd murderer executed in U.S. in 2005
946th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in California in 2005
11th murderer executed in California since 1976