1990: Dalton Prejean, cop-killing child

Just after midnight this date in 1990, Dalton Prejean was electrocuted in Louisiana for murdering state trooper Donald Cleveland.

A 17-year-old (at the time of the crime) black youth who tested just this side of mentally disabled, Prejean shot Cleveland during a traffic stop. (He was, at the time, just seven months out of a reform school stint he had served for murdering a taxi driver at the tender age of 14.)

It was a three-day trial with an all-white jury, and not much question as to Prejean’s culpability.

But as he neared the execution of that sentence, his youth and his limited candlepower loomed ever larger. They would generate worldwide attention with some heated rhetoric like this one from Amnesty International’s southern regional director:

“I doubt that in documented recent world history there is an execution” with “such a pile of reasons not to do it.”

The Louisiana board of pardons agreed — it recommended commutation — but Gov. Buddy Roemer did not.

Dalton Prejean’s was the first execution of a juvenile offender in the United States since the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of that practice in the 1989 decision Stanford v. Kentucky. That decision was reversed in 2005, and minors are no longer eligible for death-sentencing in the U.S.

On this day..

5 thoughts on “1990: Dalton Prejean, cop-killing child

  1. Why would executing that POS be worse than setting it free? You are really screwed up to even think that..

  2. No one is saying Dalton Prejean should have been freed… but executing him was even worse. I have no idea how Buddy Roemer sleeps at night. I never agree with the death penalty, and Dalton Prejean’s case was one of its most shameful applications.

  3. He was a previous murderer. Mentally handicapped or not, he needed to be locked up. Maybe not executed, but life in prison for sure.

  4. Pingback: ExecutedToday.com » Themed Set: Executions for Abolitionists

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