1984: Ten members of the Tudeh party

3 comments February 25th, 2017 Headsman

On this date in 1984, the Islamic Republic of Iran completed its destruction of the Tudeh party with ten executions.

In the 1940s, the Tudeh was Iran’s largest mass party and a fair bet to take power in the near future but state repression after Mossadegh was overthrown in 1953 had largely driven the Communist movement to the skulking margins.

Its fragments hung on underground, preparing and organizing for the proletarian revolution — an orientation that would leave the Tudeh entirely unprepared for the Iranian Revolution that really occurred. In fairness, few from Tehran to Moscow to Washington could read those tea leaves: who in the winter of the Cold War anticipated a great regional prize like Iran being captured by … the mullahs?

The Revolution released the once-banned party onto terra incognita as a minor outlet for leftward sentiment and perhaps a show of democratic good faith. But from the start it awkwardly existed on sufferance of an entirely incompatible regime. The venerable English journalist Robert Fisk, who covered the Iranian Revolution, filed a wry dispatch for the Times (Nov. 26, 1979) from the Tehran offices of Tudeh leader Nouredin Kianouri — unconvincingly trying to position his own movement within the events sweeping everyone along.

Tudeh is involved in “the radical struggle against imperialism”, and “the struggle for the reorganization of social life, especially for the oppressed strata of society” … and in so far as it is possible, Tudeh — Iran’s oldest political party — stands for the same things as Ayatollah Khomeini.

That, at least, is the theory: and Mr Kianouri holds to it bravely.

Tudeh demands a “popular front” government in Iran and Mr Kianouri professes to see little difference between this and Ayatollah Khomeini’s desire for national unity. “Popular Front”, however, is not an expression that has ever crossed the Imam’s lips and it is difficult to see how Iran’s new fundamentalist religious administration could form any cohesion with the materialist aims of Mr Kianouri’s scientific Marxism.

The article’s headline was “Ayatollah tolerates Communists until they become too popular,” but Tudeh never fulfilled its clause: it was blown out in the 1980 election, failing to win even a single seat, and maneuvered ineffectually for two years until a crackdown shattered its remnants with over 1,000 arrests early in 1983,* heavily targeting Tudeh-sympathizing army officers.** (The aforesaid Mr. Kianouri was forced to make a humiliating televised self-denunciation in 1983, although he surprisingly avoided execution.)

Those arrests culminated in a large show trial of 101 Tudeh principals in December 1983-January 1984, followed by smaller trials of lesser Tudeh figures in several cities over the months to come.

Eighty-seven Tudeh officials caught prison sentences ranging from eight months to life; these “lucky” ones, along with hundreds of other Tudeh adherents arrested in the years to come, would later be well-represented among the victims of Iran’s 1988 slaughter of political prisoners.

That left ten† reserved for execution on February 25 on charges compassing espionage, treason, and the weapons they had once naively stockpiled to fight against a monarchist coup. Notable among them were four high-ranking military officers: Col. Houshang Attarian, Col. Bezhan Kabiri, Col. Hassan Azarfar, and the chief catch, former Navy Commander Admiral Bahram Afzali.

Formally banned in Iran, the Tudeh party does still exists to this day, an exile shadow of its former glory.

* The U.S., officially abhorred of Iran, was in this period covertly aiding Tehran to raise funds to illegally bankroll Central American death squads — the Iran-Contra scandal. According to the American Tower Commission investigation of those events, the Tudeh were one of the lesser casualties this foreign policy misadventure when U.S. intelligence about the Tudeh network, largely obtained via a KGB defector, was passed to Tehran as a pot-sweetener: “In 1983, the United States helped bring to the attention of Tehran the threat inherent in the extensive infiltration of the government by the communist Tudeh Party and Soviet or pro-Soviet cadres in the country. Using this information, the Khomeini government took measures, including mass executions, that virtually eliminated the pro-Soviet infrastructure in Iran.” (See Appendix B here.)

** Iran at this moment was two years deep into its war with Saddam Hussein‘s Iraq, having in 1982 stalled out with a bloody and ineffectual offensive.

Other background of note: a different, Maoist party had in early 1982 launched a failed rising against the Islamic Republic.

† This doesn’t add up to 101. According to Tortured Confessions: Prisons and Public Recantations in Modern Iran, “when a Japanese correspondent asked why the numbers of those sentenced did not tally with those originally brought to trial, he [Mohammed Reyshahri] hedged, it was rumoured some had died during their interrogation.”

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1984: Linwood Briley, terror of Richmond

Add comment October 12th, 2016 Headsman

On this date in 1984, the eldest of Richmond’s still-notorious spree-killing Briley brothers went to Virginia’s electric hair.

Though they came from a respected and stable family, the Briley youths turned out to be such terrifyingly bad seeds that their father, James Sr., eventually kept his own bedroom door padlocked against them.

Our man Linwood Briley was the calculating leader, and the first of the Brileys to taste blood when he senselessly shot a 57-year-old neighbor hanging laundry in her backyard in 1971. As the shooter was only 16 at the time, he did a brief turn in reform school and returned to Richmond neither rehabilitated nor deterred.

In 1979, Linwood led his younger brothers James Jr. (J.B.) and Anthony on a seven-month rampage with a friend named Duncan Meekins. (Meekins would wisely turn state’s evidence against his accomplices.)

On March 12 of that year, Linwood and Anthony knocked on a door in Henrico County, pleading car trouble. No sooner did William and Virginia Bucher admit them then the Brileys trussed up the good samaritans, ransacked their house for valuables, and tossed a farewell match into the gasoline trails they had run through the rooms.

The Buchers managed to slip their bonds and escape their pyre, but few who met the Brileys in the weeks to come would be so fortunate.

Their attacks were marked by violent ferocity that terrified Richmonders, even though they were often driven by pecuniary motives.

In one killing, the murder that technically earned Linwood Briley his death sentence, the gang lay in wait in an alley behind a nightclub and randomly snatched the first person who stepped out for a breath of fresh air. That turned out to be the DJ, John Gallaher, who was forced into the trunk of his own car, driven to an abandoned factory on Mayo Island, and executed.

Two weeks later, they cornered a 62-year-old nurse at the door of her apartment and battered her to death with a baseball bat before they looted the apartment. Another victim was found with scissors and a fork still sticking out of his lifeless back; one man whom the Brileys suspected of trying to steal their car had his brains dashed out with a falling cinderblock while pinned screaming to the pavement.

Their last victim was a neighbor who had drawn their attention by nervously locking up his house when he saw the Briley gang. The young men intimidated him into opening up for him, raped his wife, and shot the lot, not excluding their five-year-old son.

The Brileys weren’t done alarming Virginians even after their death sentence: on May 31, 1984 — just a few months before Linwood’s electrocution — Linwood and James led a death row breakout and were on the loose for three more weeks, hiding out with an uncle before recapture.

James Briley, Jr. followed his brother to the electric chair on April 8, 1985. As of this writing, Anthony Briley remains incarcerated, as does Duncan Meekins.

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1984: Velma Barfield, the first woman in the modern era

Add comment November 2nd, 2013 Headsman

The first execution of a woman* in the U.S. “modern” death penalty era took place at Raleigh, North Carolina’s Central Prison on this date in 1984 when 52-year-old Velma Barfield received a lethal injection for poisoning her fiance.**

Barfield was already twice a widow in 1977 when her prospective third spouse Stuart Taylor began suffering agonizing stomach pain at church. He died shortly after.

A thorough coroner and a tip call to police by Barfield’s sister each independently flagged arsenic as the cause. Exploration of her past uncovered a disturbing pattern of people near to Velma Barfield who died in spells of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

She would confess when confronted to poisoning off not only her late fiance, but also her mother and two elderly people for whom she was a paid caregiver, all during the 1970s — a period when she was afflicted by addictions to numerous prescription drugs. There are at least two other probable murders she may have authored during this time.† “It’s the saddest thing but it seems like everybody my mother ever gets close to dies,” one of her sons remarked innocently at Taylor’s service, before the criminal suspicions surfaced.

Like the second American woman executed — Karla Faye Tucker more than 13 years later — Barfield was mediagenic, devoutly Christian, and white. Like Tucker, Barfield made national news as she approached her execution date. Time magazine, 60 Minutes, even international press descended on Raleigh.

The bespectacled, crocheting grandmother ended up declining to appeal to the Supreme Court or file other delaying actions that were available to her so that she could meet her execution with greater dignity, but she still sought mercy from the governor. Her sterling prison record was her strongest card; staff routinely broke a “no contact with other inmates” rule (the entire death row women’s section consisted of Barfield alone) in order to put the matronly “Mama Margie”‡ around inmates whom her ministrations could help.

Unfortunately for Velma Barfield, her clemency pitch was addressed to Gov. Jim Hunt at the peak of his ferocious 1984 U.S. Senate run against Jesse Helms, the most expensive Senate race in U.S. history up to that point. Hunt wasn’t about to go soft on arsenic killers four days before the polls opened. (He still lost by 86,280 votes.)

In the small morning hours this date in 1984, dressed in pink cotton pajamas and an adult diaper, Velma Barfield gave a last statement apologizing for “all the hurt that I have caused,” laid down on a gurney to receive the IV lines, and was put to sleep.

* The last execution of any woman in the U.S. prior to Velma Barfield’s was all the way back in 1962.

** Last meal: Cheez Doodles and Coca-Cola.

† Her first husband, and the father of her children, died in a suspicious fire in 1970; shortly before her execution, Velma admitted to her family that she had started it. Singer Jonathan Byrd is the grandson of the apparent first poisoning victim, whose death Barfield only confessed very late in the game to the minister who helped her write her book: Jennings Barfield was already afflicted with emphysema and diabetes when the two wed in 1971, so his death a few months later failed to raise any eyebrows. Byrd eventually composed a song about his grandfather and his deadly bride, titled “Velma”.

‡ Full name: Margie Velma Barfield. She was born Margie Velma Bullard.

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1984: Ronald Clark O’Bryan, candyman

4 comments March 31st, 2011 Headsman

Halloween lovers can thank Ronald Clark O’Bryan, executed just after midnight on this date in 1984,* for a major buzzkill.

O’Bryan spiked his own kids’ Halloween Pixy Stix with cyanide in an effort to kill off the urchins and collect the insurance. His 8-year-old son died.

Although O’Bryan was after his own kids, he might have given some out to the neighbors as well.

Nobody else died, or even got sick, but this was the era of the after-school special and satanic hysteria, so this pedestrian malefactor’s incidental connection to Halloween — after all, he could have just poisoned the kids’ Cheerios instead — metastasized into baseless urban legends of Stephen King villains spiking candy corn with rat poison and candy apples with razor blades.**

“The crime changed the way Texas youngsters, particularly those in the Houston area, celebrate Halloween,” the A.P. reported. “Some neighborhoods informally banned distribution of candy.”

Some nutbar kills his offspring for the insurance money back in the Ford administration, and that’s why you’re still getting crayons in your pillowcase sack. Crayons.

Siouxsie and the Banshees turned this creeper scenario to good effect in the 1986 song “Candyman”.

Beware the masked pretender
He always lies, this candyman
Those lips conspire in treachery
To strike in cloak and dagger, see!

Apparently you can lay a Rice Krispies treat at his grave in Forest Park East Cemetery.

* There are some reports out there of a March 30 execution, but newspaper accounts do appear to confirm that O’Bryan was put to death in the early moments of March 31, a Saturday.

** O’Bryan’s prosecuting attorney also still hates Halloween.

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1984: Maqbool Bhat, for Kashmir

3 comments February 11th, 2011 Headsman

On this date in 1984, India hanged Kashmiri nationalist Maqbool Bhat.

A terrorist to his enemies and a freedom fighter to his friends, Bhat was born in the Kashmir region back when it “was ruled by the Dogra Family and the entire Kashmiri nation was living a life of slavery.”

When Bhat was a nine-year-old child, the prince of Jammu and Kashmir inked a bitterly controversial accession of his domain to the foundling independent nation of India. Kashmir has been hitched to the adjective “troubled” ever since.

The broader Kashmir region remains a warren of competing claims among Pakistan, India, and China. Bhat operated not for any of these governments, but for Kashmiri independence … and since he came of age in the revolutionary twilight of colonialism, he did not shy from putting the fight in freedom fighter. Bhat was an early exponent of an armed independence struggle.

Both India and Pakistan proscribed as terrorist Bhat’s Jammu and Kashmir National Liberation Front (forerunner of the still-extant JKLF, which is the same acronym less the middle letter); both those longtime subcontinent antagonists arrested Bhat at different times for subversive activities. The most notable: Bhat engineered an airplane hijacking in 1971 to push his cause onto the world’s front pages.

But the hostage-taking game came a-cropper for the Kashmiri rebel.

Languishing under a dormant death sentence for the 1968 murder of an Indian policeman,* Bhat unexpectedly became the focus of his fellow-travelers’ revolutionary ardor: in Birmingham, England, Kashmiri activists kidnapped Indian diplomat Ravindra Mhatre in an attempt to force a hostage exchange.

When Delhi refused to deal, the captors executed Mhatre. Within days, India traded tit for tat by stringing up Bhat — a man who in life had been known for his boast that “nobody has the rope which can hang men.”

They may not have got their man, but they sure got a martyr.

Five years after Bhat’s execution, Kashmir finally broke into armed revolt — Bhat’s very own project, and one that has claimed tens of thousands of lives in the succeeding years.

That movement repeatedly demands the return of Bhat’s remains for burial. It annually marks this anniversary of his martyrdom with tributes and strikes.

* Bhat’s partisans insist that he was wrongly accused.

Update: Reprint of a 1984 article, “The last days of Maqbool Butt”

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1984: Elmo Patrick Sonnier, Dead Man Walking

31 comments April 5th, 2010 Headsman

On this date in 1984, Elmo Patrick Sonnier was electrocuted in Louisiana’s Angola Prison for abducting and murdering two teens in St. Martin Parish.*

Elmo and his brother Eddie posed as police officers and handcuffed two high schoolers parked at a local makeout point. Then they raped the girl, and shot both of them dead.

Both were given death sentences for the crime.

Eddie managed, as he said, to “give it back” on the grounds that Patrick was the one who did the shooting.

Once Eddie was clear of the death penalty, he tried to cop to the shooting after all, in order to save his little brother.

The appellate life of this case involved unedifying revisions of the “who shot whom” story. Ultimately, Eddie’s later claim to have been the triggerman, though quite possibly true, is not likely to win very much sympathy for his brother. It didn’t help him in the courts, either.

Just the 17th person executed since reinstatement of the death penalty, Sonnier learned that his longshot bid for clemency had been denied straight from the man who denied it — colorful, corrupt Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, who personally phoned Sonnier to give him the bad news.

Little did Sonnier know that he had equally famous company meeting him in his cell.

Sonnier was the first condemned inmate to receive the spiritual ministration of Sister Helen Prejean.

The then-obscure Louisiana nun would later write the bestseller Dead Man Walking about her experiences with Sonnier and a second death row prisoner, Robert Lee Willie. Prejean remains among the most well-known death penalty opponents in the world today.

While the book Dead Man Walking treats Sonnier and Willie in a nonfiction vein, the film adaptation (review) amalgamated those people into a single character, the fictional “Matthew Poncelet”. It’s apparent from the flashbacks in Dead Man Walking‘s execution scene, however, that Sonnier is the predominant influence on “Poncelet”.

Dead Man Walking is an interesting movie. Though its principals were all vocal death penalty opponents, the film itself is much better art than propaganda. Arguably, the doomed criminal attains a sort of personal redemption — finally admitting responsibility for a crime he had denied for much of the film; seeking the forgiveness of his victims’ surviving family — only because the death penalty awaits him.

The real-life Sister Helen. Her most recent book is The Death of Innocents:An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions.

Susan Sarandon won an Oscar for Best Actress for her turn as Sister Helen. Note that while Sonnier was in fact put to death in the electric chair (as was Robert Lee Willie), director Tim Robbins opted to portray a lethal injection because, as Helen Prejean herself put it,

we don’t want to give people the moral out whereby people could say ‘oh well, we used to do electrocution but that’s too barbaric so now we are humane and inject them’

* The murder that led to this date’s execution took place in the same area where Willie Francis survived a trip to the electric chair: the very chair that killed Patrick Sonnier.

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1984: Ernest Dobbert, child abuser

Add comment September 7th, 2009 Headsman

At 10:09 a.m. this morning in Starke Prison, 46-year-old Ernest Dobbert threw a wink to his minister and was electrocuted for torturing his nine-year-old daughter to death.

The gist of the offense is described by the Gainesville Sun:

He was a child abuser, dating back to 1969. With his wife in prison for kiting paper, his four children obviously got on his nerves. His daughter, age 9, he tortured by beating with boards and belts, by kicking, by poking in her eyes, and by holding her head underwater in the toilet. He celebrated New Year’s Eve of 1971 by dressing her poor abused body in the finest garb on hand, placing it in a garbage bag and concealing it in the attic.

No chauvinist, he. Within weeks, he had done much the same with his son, aged 7. With the help of another terrorized son, age 12, he buried them both out in the scrub somewhere, with their bodies not yet found.

An unsympathetic character deservedly forgotten a quarter-century later, Dobbert interestingly illustrates some of the wide legal and ethical gray area in the real-life application of the death penalty for the many prisoners who are guilty yet not the like of Ted Bundy.

The Sun editorial cited urges Dobbert’s commitment to a mental institution on the nicely circular grounds that “no person is truly sane who tortures — much less kills — the fruit of his own loins.” This might bespeak an impoverished appreciation of human psychology’s potential.

More legally serious is the matter of intent and premeditation, ambiguous here as it so frequently is in life. Dobbert was convicted of only second-degree murder for killing his son; for slaying his daughter, the jury convicted him of capital murder but recommended only a life sentence, unsure of his degree of calculation.

But Ernest Dobbert is on this blog because Florida law allowed a judge to overrule the jury’s recommendation, opining,

this murder of a helpless, defenseless and innocent child is the most cruel, atrocious and heinous crime I have ever personally known of — and it is deserving of no sentence but death.

Maybe so … maybe no. In a 2000 paper* that undoubtedly plays better for an academic audience than a popular one, death penalty expert (and opponent) Michael Radelet points out that if one does suppose Dobbert’s intent to be less than fully formed, a case like his could be held to constitute a species of “wrongful execution” notwithstanding his guilt for the crime.**

The cases of those wrongly sentenced to death and who were totally uninvolved in the crime constitute only one type of miscarriage of justice. Another (and more frequent) blunder arises in the cases of the condemned who, with a more perfect justice system, would have been convicted of second-degree murder or manslaughter, making them innocent of first degree murder. For example, consider the case of Ernest Dobbert, executed in Florida in 1984 for killing his daughter. The key witness at trial was Dobbert’s 13-year-old son, who testified that he saw his father kick the victim (this testimony was later recanted). In a dissent from the Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari written just hours before Dobbert’s execution, Justice Thurgood Marshall argued that while there was no question that Dobbert abused his children, there was substantial doubt about the existence of sufficient premeditation to sustain the conviction for first-degree murder. “That may well make Dobbert guilty of second-degree murder in Florida, but it cannot make him guilty of first-degree murder there. Nor can it subject him to the death penalty in that State” (Dobbert v. Wainwright, 468 U.S. 1231, 1246 (1984)). If Justice Marshall’s assessment was correct, then Dobbert was not guilty of a capital offense, and—in this qualified sense—Florida executed an innocent man.

For Justice Marshall, of course, all executions are wrongful.

For those otherwise inclined, like Joshua Marquis, an Oregon district attorney with a dim view of overhyped innocence claims, Marshall’s interpretation figures to look downright “startling”.

Florida Governor Bob Graham agreed.

Ernest Dobbert has been executed because of his brutal actions toward his own children. I hope that this indication of the seriousness of child abuse will be an example of the value which the people of Florida place upon the lives of infants and young people in our state, and a measure of the lengths the people of Florida are prepared to go to prevent and punish such crimes.

* “The Changing Nature of Death Penalty Debates,” Annual Review of Sociology, vol. 26, August 2000.

** Fellow anti-death penalty academic Hugo Bedau on people whose murders are “arguably not … capital murder”:

We rarely think about this category when discussing innocence and the death penalty, but it is relevant and extremely important. The problem has been with us for at least two centuries, ever since the invention of the distinction between first-degree (capital) murder and second-degree (noncapital) murder.

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1984: Alpha Otis O’Daniel Stephens: hear it live

8 comments December 12th, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1984, Alpha Otis O’Daniel Stephens was electrocuted in Georgia for the execution-style murder of Roy Asbell after the latter surprised Stephens in the course of a burglary.

Stephens makes these pages for two reasons:

First, he survived his initial electrocution, requiring a second application of the lethal current — awful, though not exactly unheard-of.

Second, it emerged years later that the Georgia Department of Corrections was making audio recordings of its executions as a secret archive of the proceedings.

Several hours’ worth of these (subsequently leaked) recordings from various different Georgia electrocutions are available at SoundPortraits.org.*

We begin our trip back in time to Georgia’s execution chamber with the atmospheric sound of the warrant for his execution being read to the condemned and the witness — nicely juxtaposing the sentence of death with the body responsible for administering it: the Georgia Department of Offender Rehabilitation.

[audio:Alpha_Otis_O’Daniel_Stephens_warrant.mp3]

But the real action is the sound behind the curtain as prison officials realize the electrocution has not killed their man, wait agonizing minutes for the still-living body to cool enough for doctors to examine it officially, and begin the execution cycle anew. From the sound of it, they only barely killed him with the second pass: the officials are worrying openly that it looks like he’s still breathing very late in the procedure.

This file, obviously, comes with a content advisory sticker — though it lacks any directly identifiable hideous sound from the chair, or the prisoner, or the witnesses, the routine narrative of a prison bureaucrat as a man dies dreadfully in the next room is an altogether different order of horror.

[audio:Alpha_Otis_O’Daniel_Stephens_botched_execution.mp3]

This audio file was helpfully clipped by Dysfunctional Playground from the Pacifica radio Democracy Now! broadcast which aired it; the clip is itself an abridged version of a 20-minute original with long silences and unintelligible content excised.

The transcript of the abridged clip as aired by Democracy Now! follows below. Willis Marable, the main speaker on the tapes, was an assistant warden.


UNIDENTIFIED: Carry out the execution by the order of the court. There’s no reason to delay.

UNIDENTIFIED: Very well. On my count of three, press your buttons. One, two, three.

WILLIS MARABLE: The execution now has begun. There was one small jerk from the condemned at the time the execution was initiated. He is sitting very still now, and we are also now into the second phase of the execution. We are now into the third phase of the execution. No movement from the condemned. No activity, no movement from the witnesses. He appears to be relaxing a little bit more now. There’s sixty seconds remaining on the third phase of the execution. There is a slight movement from the condemned’s head. He seems to be moving his head from side to side slightly.

UNIDENTIFIED: I show the time is 12:19.

WILLIS MARABLE: Commissioner, he is still moving his head, and he seems to have slumped down in a relaxing-type position in the chair. But his head is moving from side to side slightly. Commissioner, Mr. Low, the execution is completed at this time. The electrical panel box is secured and locked. I do not detect any movement from the condemned at this time. He seems to have stopped moving his head and also his arms.

UNIDENTIFIED: I show the time is 12:20.

UNIDENTIFIED: You are in the lapse time countdown, is that correct?

WILLIS MARABLE: Yes, sir. We’re into the first minute of the lapse time now. No movement from any of the witnesses, and at this time no movement from the condemned. We have now completed one minute of lapsed time, four minutes remaining. Two minutes of lapsed time completed at this time, three minutes remaining. Still very little movement from any of the witnesses, and I detect no movement from the condemned at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED: I show the time is 12:22.

WILLIS MARABLE: Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER: Yes?

WILLIS MARABLE: Mr. Low?

COLONEL LOW: Yes.

WILLIS MARABLE: There is some slight movement. He’s still moving his head slightly. The only thing we can do is continue until the physicians can check him after the lapse time has expired.

COLONEL LOW: Don’t vary from your checklist.

WILLIS MARABLE: OK, sir. OK, we have completed three minutes of lapsed time, two minutes remaining. Commissioner? Mr. Low?

COLONEL LOW: Yes.

WILLIS MARABLE: He is still moving his head slightly, kind of a bobbing up-and-down movement. Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER: Yes.

WILLIS MARABLE: Mr. Low? We have completed four minutes of lapsed time. We have one minute remaining. And from my vantage point I do detect or it seems to be that he is breathing. Commissioner? Mr. Low? We have completed the five minutes lapsed time. Stand by for the physicians’ check. Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER: Yes?

WILLIS MARABLE: It appears the doctors agree with me that he’s still breathing. You want us to check him and then go through it again, or just go ahead and go through it again?

COMMISSIONER: Check him, and then go through it again. Definitely check him. Don’t vary from the checklist.

WILLIS MARABLE: Alright.

COMMISSIONER: Have them check him.

WILLIS MARABLE: OK. [inaudible] We’re going to do it again?

UNIDENTIFIED: It doesn’t say so.

WILLIS MARABLE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED: It remains on.

WILLIS MARABLE: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED: The time is 12:26 and thirty seconds.

WILLIS MARABLE: Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER: Yes.

WILLIS MARABLE: The doctors have verified that he is still alive.

COMMISSIONER: Repeat the execution.

WILLIS MARABLE: Very well. You ready to go again?

COMMISSIONER: Better check all the connections. Val?

VAL: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER: Did you tell the witnesses that you’re repeating?

VAL: No, I didn’t.

COMMISSIONER: I think you should tell them.

VAL: OK. You want me to just advise them that—

COMMISSIONER: Just advise them—

VAL:—repeating the process and not go into any detail?

COMMISSIONER: That’s right.

VAL: OK.

WILLIS MARABLE: Commissioner? The superintendent is entering the execution chamber and approaching the mic at this time to advise the witnesses that we will proceed again with the execution.

COMMISSIONER: Well, listen, you can’t tell them—tell them there were some vital signs remaining, so the execution will repeat. See if you can get that message to them.

WILLIS MARABLE: It’s too late now. He’s already briefed them, and he’s on the way back in, sir.

COMMISSIONER: Fine, alright.

UNIDENTIFIED: I show the time is 12:28.

UNIDENTIFIED: OK, Commissioner, we’ll proceed at this time.

COMMISSIONER: Proceed.

UNIDENTIFIED: On my count of three, you press your button. One, two, three.

WILLIS MARABLE: Commissioner? Mr. Low? The execution is initiated again at this time. The condemned made one big jerk, and now he is relaxing in the chair. I do not detect any other movement from the condemned at this time. We have completed the first and second phase of the execution. We are now into the third phase. I do detect his head moving from side to side again. We’re still into the third phase of the execution. Commissioner? Mr. Low?

COMMISSIONER: Yes.

WILLIS MARABLE: He is still at this time moving his head from side to side and appears to be breathing. We’ll continue it just like we did previously.

UNIDENTIFIED: We’re going to have to check that [inaudible].

WILLIS MARABLE: We have fifteen seconds remaining on the third phase of the execution. Commissioner, Mr. Low, the third phase of the execution is completed. The equipment is switched off, secured at this time. We are now into the five-minutes lapse time.

COMMISSIONER: What is the status on the condemned?

WILLIS MARABLE: Sir, he appears to be breathing to me.

COMMISSIONER: You’re going to have to have them check those sponges and check their connections or something. There’s something they don’t have connected right, Willis.

WILLIS MARABLE: Yes, sir. Do you want us to go ahead and complete this whole thing and then—

COMMISSIONER: Yeah, complete the phase, and then you’re going to have to make the check.

WILLIS MARABLE: OK, sir. Commissioner, Mr. Low, we have completed one minute of lapse time. We have four minutes remaining. I might also advise at this time that I do not detect any movement from him at this time. He appears to have stopped moving. Still no movement from any of the witnesses. They were just sitting very still, observing the condemned in the chair.

UNIDENTIFIED: I show the time at 12:32.

WILLIS MARABLE: We have now completed two minutes of phase time, lapse time. We have three minutes remaining. I might also add that I do not detect any movement from the condemned. Commissioner, Mr. Low, we have now completed three minutes lapse time. We have two minutes remaining. There is still no movement from the condemned. Commissioner, Mr. Low, we have completed four minutes of lapse time. We have one minute remaining. Still no detectable movement from the condemned. He does seem to have stopped moving entirely. Commissioner, Mr. Low, we have completed our five minutes lapse time. Stand by for the physicians’ check.

At this time, the superintendent and the two physicians are entering the execution chambers for their check. The first doctor is now in the process of making his check for vital signs.

UNIDENTIFIED: I show the time at 12:36. I show the time is 12:37.

WILLIS MARABLE: The second doctor is still in the process of conducting his check for vital signs. The superintendent is at this time, Commissioner, Mr. Low, is still in the process of briefing the witnesses that at 12:37 hours this date the condemned was pronounced dead. He has instructed all witnesses to depart the witness room. Back to the front of the institution. At this time, the curtains are drawn.

* Here’s another recorded Georgia execution we’ve featured.

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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Botched Executions,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Electrocuted,Execution,Georgia,Mature Content,Murder,Racial and Ethnic Minorities,USA

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