On this day in 1922, Eleuterio Corral and Rumaldo Losano were hanged in New Mexico’s Grant County Jail in Silver City for the 1921 murder of a prison guard.
Corral (left) and Losano (right).
Losano and Corral were serving time in the Grant County Jail for robbery (Corral) and attempted larceny (Losano) in the spring of 1921. Losano had only fifteen days days left to go on his sentence. Nevertheless, on April 2, 1921, the two young men decided to make a break for it. The jailer, sixty-year-old Ventura Bencoma, had been sick with the flu and during the early morning hours he decided to have a lie-down. While Bencoma slept, Corral and Losano were able to get out of the cell they shared.
A nearby cell was unoccupied and used for storing coal and firewood, and had an ax. The two convicts sneaked up on Bencoma and brained him with the ax, took his gun and keys, and threatened to shoot the other prisoners if they made any noise. They tried to use the keys to release another prisoner, Jesus Rocha, but weren’t able to get the lock undone and gave up. As soon as the pair had run off into the darkness, the others started screaming for help and woke up the sheriff, who was also enjoying a siesta of his own up on the second floor and had missed the entire jailbreak.
Both Eleuterio and Rumaldo bragged out loud of their escape and short freedom. Both men told Sheriff Casey it was Jesus Rocha who planned the escape and was to have joined them. Sheriff Casey learned from the two that after Jailer Bencoma’s keys and pistol were removed, they were to unlock the steel cell door to Jesus Rocha. Once he was released, the three were to go up to the second floor where Sheriff Casey’s quarters were and call him to the door. Once the Sheriff opened the door, he would be shot and killed with the jail’s pistol. The three would then arm themselves with the Sheriff’s rifles and ammunition. They planned to saddle the horses in the Sheriff’s corral and flee to Mexico. The plan began to fall apart after both failed to unlock the cell door to Jesus Rocha.
In light of this information, Jesus Rocha was charged with murder alongside his criminal colleagues. At trial, Losano and Corral recanted their statements about his involvement and claimed Rocha had not been a part of the escape plan. All three were convicted and sentenced to hang, but the Supreme Court of New Mexico subsequently reversed Rocha’s conviction, leaving Corral and Losano to face the noose without him.
Their families in Mexico pleaded for mercy, claiming that at the time of the murders, Corral was just sixteen years old and Losano seventeen. However, three physicians who examined them judged Corral was least nineteen and Losano was probably older than twenty.
A few days prior to the execution, the deputy warden conducted a surprise search of the condemned men’s cell. Both of their mattresses contained hacksaws and makeshift knives: they’d been planning another violent escape attempt. Unsurprisingly, the state governor, Merritt C. Mechem, refused to commute the sentences, telling Sheriff Casey, “Every guard’s life out there would be in danger with those two in the penitentiary.”
Officials set up the scaffold only about fifty feet from where Bencoma was murdered. Corral went first, then Losano. Both of them were calm and offered the standard prayers, apologies for their crimes and pleas for forgiveness.
On this date in 1894, West Virginia hanged before a crowd of 3,000 for a mining camp murder three months before.
Hardy was reportedly already at odds with Thomas Drews, a fellow laborer in the booming Appalachian coal industry, over their mutual pursuit of the same woman when Hardy lost big to Drews in a craps game on October 13, 1893.
While it’s true that twenty-five cents doesn’t really seem all that “big”, this sum could represent a decent slice of a day’s pay in the coal mining game, and that in an industry where downward wage pressure had generated a ferocious national strike only months before. Hardy was profoundly nonplussed to have to fork over the sweat of his brow to a love rival and, with the added incitement of whiskey, shot Drews dead. (Ten more spectators at his hanging wound up in stir themselves for drunk and disorderlies.)
One of the most popular folk ballads in American history, the song has foggy origins but amazing reach: it has been performed, covered, and reinterpreted by a scores of artists including the Carter Family, Lead Belly, Duke Ellington, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Bob Dylan with the Grateful Dead.
On this date in 1678, Covenanter radical James Mitchell was hanged at Edinburgh for attempting to murder the Archbishop of St. Andrews.
Mitchell’s intended victim, James Sharp by name, is one of Scottish history’s great villains — tasked as he was to cheat Presbyterians of the religious reform they had spent a generation seeking. After Cromwell had King Charles I beheaded, his heir Charles II was nothing but an exile pretending to the throne his father had been deposed from.
Desperate for allies, he made a reluctant pact with Scottish to promulgate Presbyterianism throughout the realm should he regain the kingdom: this meant, in practice, bottom-up church governance as against the top-down authority of bishops characterizing Episcopacy. For a king, this would entail ceding considerable power over religious matters.
Such a promise was more readily given than honored. When Charles II regained the English throne in 1660, he instead restored Episcopacy in the north and everywhere else — selecting our man James Sharp, up until then a Presbyterian minister of the moderate faction, to boss Scotland’s most exalted ecclesiastical post. “The great stain will always remain, that Sharp deserted and probably betrayed a cause which his brethren intrusted to him,” Walter Scott wrote.
From this position, whose very existence was obnoxious to his former friends, our Judas* was Charles’s point man for reintroducing and enforcing all those ecclesiastical prerogatives of the monarchy that the Presbyterians had been so desperate to abolish.
He drove from the church irreconcilable Covenanter ministers — so named for their adherence to the objectives of those discarded covenants. That faction despised Sharp, and he returned the sentiment. On one occasion, he had to call for the militia to disperse an angry mob, only to be told that the militia’s members had joined the mob too. After a Covenanter rising was put down at the Battle of Rullion Green, Sharp okayed the withdrawal of quarter for surrendered foes with the taunt “You were pardoned as soldiers, but you are not acquitted as subjects” — putting his episcopal imprimatur on numerous ensuing hangings.
It was only a matter of time before someone tried to murder him.
On the 11th of July in 1668, James Mitchell — a zealous but unordained freelance preacher and dyed-in-the-wool Covenanter — stepped to a carriage the archbishop was embarking and took a shot at him. Mitchell missed, and pinged one of the prelate’s companions in the wrist, crippling the hand.
Mitchell managed to escape and live for several years with sizable sum on his head and nobody interested in claiming it** before Sharp’s own brother finally captured him in 1674. The proceedings against him are surprisingly protracted considering the famous vindictiveness of his target, and resolved by (as Mitchell said at his hanging) “an extrajudicial confession, and the promise of life given to me thereupon by the chancellor, upon his own and the public faith of the kingdom.” Given his party, he ought not have been surprised that the promise was not kept; as an added bonus, his retraction of the confession — which was the only evidence against him — resulted in his torture by the boot.
In 1679, a different bunch of Covenanters finally succeeded in assassinating the hated Archbishop Sharp.
The Murder of Archbishop Sharpe on Magus Muir near St. Andrews, 1679, by William Allen (c. 1840).
There’s a public domain biography friendly to Sharp (and perforce extremely hostile to the Covenanters) here.
Having traveled such a very long odyssey, and survived thus far so many perils to continuity,* it seems meet to leave a few runic scratchings for the next foolhardy adventurer, on the topic (so essential to the almanac conceit) of the calendar.
Perhaps we ought to begin with that word essential. Our schtick here at Executed Today is to pin each entry to the anniversary of the execution in question. Day by day, few readers really care that this is the case and justifiably not: each post stands or falls on its own, and the coincidental date rarely appears as more than a footnote. But from the standpoint of structure, the dates constitute a sort of editorial dark matter that holds the whole together. It’s the constraint that produces the site’s mixture of household-name cases and exhumed obscurities, ancient saints and headline news, not to mention the odd discovered** thematic patterns we occasionally cobble together across the centuries. Without the need to meet the date the selections would be too arbitrary, the arrangements too pat, and the deadlines too forgiving — and for that reason I endeavor to keep the occasional executions of uncertain dates, be they ever so intriguing, only rare indulgences.
It’s also certainly the case that the requirement to research events for specific dates has led me to discover stories through, as it were, the other end of the telescope — to begin with a general resource like the roster of British hangings at CapitalPunishmentuk.org and, from nothing but an initial name and date, try to crack open a story. These can yield astonishing discoveries. My favorite instance of this was stumbling on the role a death penalty appellate case played in the legal challenge to Jim Crow in the 1890s — which came into my view only because I needed some entry to plug in on 1 May, searched the Espy file index of U.S. executions accordingly, and started following the threads.
For me, the payoff in quality easily rewards the troubles of maintaining the anniversary format. That does not mean those troubles have not on occasion been bayed out, garments rent by the fleshchunk, under a blood moon.
The first and most maddeningly ubiquitous problem one encounters in writing an almanac history site is the amazingly cavalier attention to detail that prevails in roughly any class of sources one would care to name — detail like the date.
I’m sure this is not peculiar to executions, but let me tell you from hard experience that when some source or other out there reports that the poor bastard was hanged on whatever day, you had best begin by taking the specifications with a grain of salt.
People who retell these stories, whatever the nature of their interest or axe-grinding, don’t care about this date, in the least; the thing that happened March 15 could as well be March 18 or April 15 or Christmas Day and for nigh everyone but the daily blogger that minutiae just isn’t the point. In the grand tradition of sleepy scriptorium scribes miscopying their scrolls you’ll get some nameless pen in the fogs of time who writes down the fellow’s trial date for his death date, or transposes the numbers in the date, or any other bloody thing at all. I would presume this fuzzing of the record is typically an accident born of carelessness or indifference, though occasionally it’s perfectly intentional.
Whatever the reason, when your concept is all about the calendar, it’s a jolly walk over quicksand.
I discovered this to my early grief not three weeks into the site’s run when I posted about pirate “Calico Jack” Rackham and casually dropped in the execution date that was at the time asserted in Jack’s Wikipedia entry … which turned out to be one day off.
Let it not be said that the world’s fact-checkers do not earn their daily bread, for it is from innumerable copies upon copies that these little slips perpetrate themselves upon the years, multiplying into their own self-confirming colonies of cross-referencing sources. Unfortunately, your narrator is this site’s only fact-checker; ever since the Calico Jack debacle, I’ve lost literally hundreds of hours like Diogenes searching for one honest date in the (disturbingly frequent) instances where early research shows the timing questionable or disputed. Ideally one’s torchlight at last falls upon a definitive primary source, as with Spanish anarchist Michele Angiolillo; sometimes one has to settle for what appears to be the most credible consensus, as with this criminal autopsy painted by Rembrandt; and every now and again, one must outright spike a promising post. (Murder your darlings, they say; surely a headsman ought to be able to do it.)
Despite what sometimes veers into Ahab-like pursuit of a detail that readers basically figure to ignore, I’ve still managed to punt one or two other dates in live posts over the years: contravening as they do the core architecture of the entire project, these errors scar my soul more deeply than pretty much any other. Even though she’s an Ace in our playing card deck, I’d sooner call Joan of Arc a Huguenot arsonist who was beheaded during the Boxer Rebellion for passing bad checks than say that she burned on May 29th.
(Paradoxically, this all makes ancient dates some of the “best” for my purposes even though they’re the worst as far as objective reliability goes. Cassius Dio might be talking through his toga but if he wrote a date down, we’re rolling with it because odds are that it’s the only date citation in existence at all.)
Ticking the wrong box on the calendar is one thing, but a whole new level of pandemonium arises when the calendar itself must be queried.
We’ve obviously normalized this site to the dates of the present-day western calendar. This is basically the Gregorian Calendar; it’s named for the counter-Reformation pope who promulgated it as a corrective to the slightly-too-slow Julian calendar.† Since the reform was associated with one side in Christendom’s sectarian schism, Protestant countries were slow to adopt the Gregorian calendar, and did so one by one when they finally cracked. (Catholic territories adopted the Gregorian calendar almost in one fell swoop in 1582.) Orthodox Europe held out even longer.
Consequently, for several centuries, different European countries used two different calendars. When Guy Fawkes was hanged, drawn, and quartered on 31 January 1606, it was already 10 February across the channel in France.‡ So how’s that supposed to work on my calendar?
I’m frankly surprised than in eight-plus years I’ve never been challenged on this — another indicator how little most readers care about the dates. (Again, I don’t say this to criticize. Readers have little reason to care about the dates!) This was not at all something I had thoroughly thought through when I launched this site, and as a result it has not been handled with anything approaching rigorous consistency, but the practice I’ve come to is roughly this:
For dates prior to 1582, the Julian calendar is used. (i.e., we’re not retrofitting the Gregorian calendar)
For dates from 1582 (the initial introduction of the Gregorian calendar) to 1752-53 (when the last major Protestant states finally adopted it), I let the local date prevail: Julian dates for English executions; Gregorian dates for French executions.
However, this does still leave gray area where the execution is the concern of multiple countries. For example, in 1623, the Dutch (already on the Gregorian calendar) executed in the East Indies some nationals of England (still on the Julian calendar). I rolled with the Julian date for the entirely arbitrary reason that the post focused greatly on how that event played in England.
After 1752-53, I default to Gregorian dates even in Orthodox countries — where, even though the Julian calendar remained in use until as late as 1923, even local intelligentsia often reference events by the Gregorian dates that were clearly emerging the de facto standard
However, I have definitely cheated on (or simply been inconsistent about) the Julian/Gregorian thing in post-1753 Orthodox Europe, as in this post channeling Tolstoy’s War and Peace executions. Considering the source and nature of that particular story, it just seemed more right to let its Russianness carry the day.
So that covers dates in the western milieu, with a substantial fudge factor.
When it comes to the many and interesting calendars outside the Julian-Gregorian track, it’s Katy bar the door. I do my best to cram them into the equivalent western date on a catch-as-can basis; if you’ve read this far with me you will not be surprised to hear that dates emerging from, say, an ancient Persian calendar or from variants of the Hindu calendar deserve a jaundiced eye when they’re served up in January-to-December terms by a website, popular history, or any intermediary channel that looks less than anal-retentive.
Case in point: you’ll see the crucifixion date of Japanese “Warring States Period” hero Torii Suneemon described in some sources as occurring on 16 May. It turns out that it took place on the 16th day of the fifth month … of the pre-Gregorian Japanese lunisolar calendar.§ I arrived at 24 June as the correct equivalent date by testing and nervously re-testing through calendar translators, leaving the date’s accuracy suspended between the reliability of said translators and the competence of your correspondent. (Fortunately the story is excellent enough to bear a little trepidation in the dating.)
This is the sausage-making that for three millennia has slaked your morbid fascination and mine. It’s time for the fourth thousand posts.
Previous self-congratulatory milestone posts:
2500, against miscorrection
2001, musing on the death penalty in literary dystopias
1500, about the Hand of Glory legend
1000 (and one), about the Arabian Nights stories
500, merely a Spartan marking of the date
… at this point I suppose I’m only doing the thousand-and-one thing in deference to now-meaningless precedent. Does 3,001 have any special resonance, the way 1,001 and 2,001 did?
* I am not above writing lashed naked, save that one can rarely afford this service on the pennies earned by Amazon referrals.
** Or forced.
† Introducing the Gregorian calendar entailed jumping forward 10 days (when the calendar was introduced) or 13 days (as of today). If you think this was a logistical nightmare, consider the 445-day year that Julius Caesar had to decree in order to bump Rome from its crazy lunar hodgepodge and onto the Julian calendar.
As added fun, England prior to the Gregorian switch had its New Year not on January 1 but on March 25, meaning that one must double-check the years of English dates in January, February and March.
‡ These also occasionally compound the simple date accuracy problems as writers conscious that the Gregorian calendar is the more accurate sometimes normalize their own commentaries to the “true” date, resulting in one’s sources citing the same events according to different date registers and nobody being explicit about which they’ve chosen. Oh, and after that, you’ll get interlocutors who completely misinterpret leftover impressions of the Julian/Gregorian changeover and talk utter nonsense as if intentionally trying to obfuscate.
§ You’ll also commonly see this “Xth day of the Yth month” stuff naively rendered “straight” into a western date when primary sources use a regnal year. (e.g., the fourth day of the eighth month of the illustrious reign of King So-And-So does not mean 4 August.)
On this date in 1983, Wang Zhong, once the Communist Party Secretary and district head of Haifeng county, Guangdong, was executed for corruption.
The first official of his rank to be so punished, Wang did business on a truly paltry scale relative to the titanicgraft compassed by China’s latter-day oligarchs: his first booty was a 17″ black-and-white TV in 1979. In the end, between payola extorted and contraband expropriated, Wang sold his life for 69,000 yuan — a little over US $10,000.
His crimes were read out and his sentence before more than 17,300 people at a rally at Swatow, 200 miles east of Canton.
Wang then was driven in a truck to an execution ground about 25 minutes away.
Between 600 and 700 bicycles were parked near the execution ground, and some people ran on foot to watch after the truck and its escorts passed by thousands of spectators along the route.
A cold wind blew and a light rain fell as the convoy arrived and a policeman asked Wang if he had any last words. It [was?] said he asked police to tell his children not to follow his examples.
At 2:45, Wang Zhong knelt facing south. The policeman carrying out the execution once again confirmed his identity. Then he picked up an automatic rifle and, ‘peng,’ a bullet pierced Wang Zhong’s heart.
This aptly-named fruit vendor was a real peach. During Cologne’s 1627-1630 witch hunt, Plum in 1629 denounced a bushel of Cologne’s leading citizens for devilry. While threatening established elites with torture and the stake certainly seems downright bananas with benefit of hindsight, the free city had in 1627 burned an influential woman — and possibly Germany’s first female postmaster — named Katharina Henot. Indeed, it was Plum’s contention that such varied characters as the wife of the Burgermeister, the pastor of St. Alban’s Church, and Katharina Henot’s brother had all been keeping regular dates at the late Katharina’s Black Sabbath orgies.
The city was at that moment facing intense pressure by the Archbishop of Cologne Ferdinand of Bavaria — an imperial elector and enthusiastic hammer of witches — to root out Satan’s earthly minions. It was not at all past thinking that Plum’s accusations could have cut a swath through the city’s upper crust.
Instead, they destroyed the credibility of the witch hunts.
After unsuccessfully pressuring Plum to just pipe down and go away, the city had her arrested as a witch. After all, how did she know so much about who was going to the orgies? And, as was almost inevitable in such cases, the consequent interrogation proved sufficiently vigorous to force a confession from the woman’s lips.
In 1631, as the witch fever abated in Cologne, and elsewhere throughout Germany, the Cologne-educated jurist Friedrich Spee published one of the seminal takedowns of witch-hunting, Cautio Criminalis. (Spee himself lost a kinswoman to the Hexenprozesse.)
On this date in 1784, for a murder in a bar brawl he had committed with his hard-drinking cronies, Tuscan mariner Cassumo Garcelli was hanged on Boston Common.
To judge by the bog-standard broadsheet purporting to report the condemned man’s gallows’ shade contrition for his youthful vice and wicked examples, piratical Catholic seamen appear to have understood the spectacle of their public execution in a friendless foreign land in a manner quite suspiciously similar to the understanding likely to be held by a New England printer.
In the transcription that follows, I have made a few interpolations, and one outright elision, owing to sections of text obscured by printing faults on the preserved version of this document.
Click on the image to see the full original document.
Who was this Day (Thursday, January 15, 1784) executed, for the willful, cruel and inhuman murder of Mr. John Johnson on the evening of the sixth November, 1783.
I, Cassumo Garcelli, was born at Leghorn, in Italy, on the Fifth Day of March, 1760. My Parents, who are, as I have since been informed, both dead, were not classed among the lower Order of People, endeavoured to check the natural Viciousness of my Disposition, by repeated Corrections and Admonitions, but to no Effect, for the Proneness of my Temper to Vice, I cherished by keeping company with gambling, lewd, ill-moral’d Fellows, and committing Foibles, which the Consideration of being Young screen’d from publick Punishment. I have three Sisters, who I believe are still living, and will, in all Probability, here of the untimely [death of their] Brother.
In early Life […] to try my fortune … notwithstanding the Intreaties of my best Friends, I entered on board a Vessel, in the Capacity of Cabin-Boy. After making a Number of Voyages, a particular Account of which would give but trifling Satisfaction to any Person, I quitted the Profession for several Years, but again enter’d on a Voyage to Porto-Rico, where I committed the horrid Crime of Murder, by stabbing a Man, in an affray, with my poinard: I escaped the vigilance of my persuers, and got on board the vessel. After a short tarry there, we set sail for Philadelphia. During the Time I was on board this Vessel, I contracted an Intimacy with one Prami, whose wicked advice and Example was in a great Measure the Cause of my perpetrating a Number [sic], for [one of?] which I am this Day to make the attonement of my Life, to satisfy the demands of Justice.
Upon our arrival near Philadelphia, Prami with myself concerted a Platt to murder the Captain and crew, and make off with the vessel: We so far succeeded as that Prami murder’d the Captain, and I one of the sailors, but the crew mustering obliged us to decamp: We entered on board a schooner, and in a few days sailed for this place.
The Crime for which I am now to Suffer, was committed in the following manner: On the Evening of the 6th of November, being in Company with two of my Comrads [sic], we came from the North End, and on passing by Mr. Vose’s House, we heard some People Dancing, upon which (knowing it to be a Public House) we entered, and called for some Liquor, which was brought to us, after paying for it.
Vami, the stout man, with a white Jacket, who has made his Escape, enter’d the Room; my other Companion and I follow’d on, but was told to go out, which we did; on going into the Street, Prami laid hold on a young Woman, which occasion’d her to cry “Murder,” upon which Johnson, with others ran to her Assistance, an Affray ensued, when Johnson approaching us received three Stabs from me, and two from Prami: We endeavoured to make our escape, which Prami effected: I was taken, confined, brought to trial, and after a very fair trial was convicted of the crime, sentenced, and am this day to suffer. Humbly craving the Benediction of ALL, I must confess [and am] willing to die.
Schiemer abandoned a Franciscan monastery, preferring to set his table with honest labor as a tailor, and to succor his soul with that that new heresy minting martyrs in northern Europe.
In 1527, Schiemer was both a vigorous missionary and an eloquent proponent of the pacificism for which the sect would eventually become known. In Schiemer’s time, before the catastrophe of Münster’s Anabaptist theocracy, this was quite naturally a hot dispute among the persecuted adherents trying to determine how to make their way in a world where they were considered heretical even by the other heretics: turn the other cheek, or come like Christ with a sword?
Schiemer’s answer was for the true Christian to give himself to the ordeal of Christ’s cross.
[The Holy Spirit] teaches no one, however, unless he despaired of all human comforting and wisdom first. He does not comfort or strengthen anyone unless he feels a horror and turns away from all comforting and power of man. This is why the Lord says, “Do not be called masters.” But this master, Christ, does not accept anyone as His pupil or disciple, unless he renounces and hates everything that he has, and follows Him and carries his cross daily. In doing this, one has to trust in the Lord’s comforting and keep still, as the Scriptures say in many passages, particularly in the Psalms, the Prophets, most of all in Isaiah and the Lamentations of Jeremiah.
The strength of all Christians consists in keeping still, by not forsaking the words of the Lord so quickly, by not losing courage so soon, but by being patient, waiting for the comfort of the Holy Spirit, in the midst of the greatest desolation and misery. This is true weakness of which the Scriptures speak, in particular Paul when he says, “For when I am weak I am strong.”
He also says, “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s suffering, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” That is what Christ means when He says, “A little while and you will see me no more, again a little while and you will see me.” And when the apostles asked Him what He meant by this, He answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn in to joy … Indeed the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.
It is often suspected that Schiemer’s execution on January 14 might have inspired the Rattenberg grandee Pilgram Marpeck to convert — for he was dismissed from a post as a mining magistrate on January 28, and thereafter became an influential, itinerant Anabaptist “wandering citizen of heaven” crisscrossing southern Germany.
DEAR SIR: We, the subscribers, request to say that there was found this morning a dead man, and still hanging, in our neighborhood, as the inclosed scrip which was found pinned to his back, will show you by whom it was done. We have made a suitable box and buried him near the place he was found hung. Should his friends wish to get his body, they can get it by applying to any of the subscribers. We trust that you will not attach any blame to any of the citizens of this neighborhood, as we were entirely ignorant of any of the circumstances until we found the body. From all we can learn, he was brought across the Chowan River to this place, and as soon as the men who had him in charge hung him, they went back.
It was signed by ten people of Pasquotank County, North Carolina.
The note they enclosed, retrieved from the hanging body, read:
Here hangs Private Samuel Jones, of Company B, Fifth Ohio regiment, by order of Maj.-Gen. Pickett, in retaliation for Private Daniel Bright, of Company L, Sixty-second Georgia regiment, hung Dec. 18, 1863, by order of Brig.-Gen. Wild.
Bright, a member of the newly-formed 66th North Carolina guerrillas, had been hanged as a spy. Jones had been obtained by casting lots among Union prisoners of war held at the Confederate capital of Richmond, in response to Pickett’s demand for some Yankee to execute tit for tat. (Pickett’s proclivity for retaliatory executions would soon require him to quit the country at the end of the Civil War.)
Last year on this date, Saudi Arabia’s execution wave consumed a Burmese woman named Laila Bint Abdul Muttalib Basim.
Condemned for the murder and sexual abuse of her seven-year-old stepdaughter, Basim went to her public beheading protesting her innocence and resisting in whatever way she could — which we know, because a cell phone recording of the execution attained worldwide dissemination. In it, the black-shrouded condemned shrieks over and over, “I did not kill! This is unjust!” She denounces her executioners, invokes the Shahada … until her throat is horrifically emptied of its last protest by the blade.
Warning: This is the on-camera death of a human being from just a few meters’ distance, obtained via Liveleak. It’s awful.
Thanks to the outrage this video spawned, a “human rights organization” underwritten by the Saudi government demanded the arrest of the person who recorded the video … which did indeed occur.