1985: Stephen Morin, serial killer convert

52 comments March 13th, 2010 Headsman

On this date in 1985, Texas executed serial killer Stephen Morin for murdering and robbing Carrie Marie Scott in 1981 — one of at least three, and up to thirty, of his victims, most of whom were (unlike Scott) abducted for rape and kindred brutalizing.

Just the sixth person executed in Texas under its modern death penalty regime, Morin was an IV drug addict.

Death chamber technicians required 40-plus minutes to bore through the resultant scar tissue well enough to poison Morin. He’s been a bullet point on the anti-lethal injection brief ever since. (Oddly, Morin’s execution is not on this list of recent botches.)

But Morin’s most prominent afterlife is a very different object lesson: not medical ethics, but spiritual warfare.

It seems the last woman he kidnapped, Margy Mayfield, survived the encounter by converting the desperate fugitive to evangelical Christianity; this story is still stocked and sold by Focus on the Family. This is Mayfield’s own account of their meeting.

[audio:http://withusisgod.org/wp-content/uploads/audio/margy-mayfield.mp3]

To judge by his last statement, Morin took his conversion to the gurney.

But others who knew Morin better in life (and, creepily, helped him soundproof his murder-mobile) … are a bit more skeptical about him.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Botched Executions,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Lethal Injection,Murder,Rape,Religious Figures,Serial Killers,Texas,Theft,USA

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1985: Mahmoud Mohamed Taha, progressive Islamic theologian

Add comment January 18th, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1985 progressive Islamic theologian Mahmoud Mohamed Taha was publicly hanged at a prison in Khartoum North, Sudan.

Seventy-five years old at his death, Taha spent his youth in the nationalist movement against British control of Sudan where he emerged as the standard-bearer of the liberal/secular Republican Party.

After Sudan won independence in 1956, both Taha and his party maintained — in the face of official hostility that waxed and waned with the changing regimes — nonviolent support for political openness, national unity between Muslims and non-Muslims, and a theology pointing to reform within Islam. Specifically, Taha embraced a women’s movement and opposed the imposition of sharia, at least in the absence of a radical modernization of the Islamic religious law.

The introduction of sharia in 1983 brought matters to a head, and not only with Taha: civil war broke out — the conflict between the Muslim north and the Christian and animist south only recently and imperfectly abated.

Taha and four other Republicans were tried for their intransigence in a two-hour trial under a seemingly muddled mixture of secular and religious law.

Among the hundreds of attendees of Taha’s hanging this day were his four “co-conspirators.” They were themselves under sentence of death to be carried out January 20th, unless they should recant. All four recanted. Hundreds of other Republicans were held around the country on lesser charges until they did likewise.

The next year, with a new government in place, the Sudanese Supreme Court declared the proceedings against the Republicans to have been in error.

Little of Taha’s work has been translated, but his Second Message of Islam is available in English and presents a conception of the faith so unfamiliar in the west that one reviewer mitigates his praise with the regret that “it is nonsensical to talk of reforming Islam, a religion which is doctrinally irreformable.”

Taha’s thought also has a scholarly evaluation in Quest for Divinity: A Critical Examination of the Thought of Mahmud Muhammad Taha. More information by and about Taha and the Republicans is here.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Death Penalty,Execution,God,Hanged,Heresy,History,Intellectuals,Not Executed,Pardons and Clemencies,Public Executions,Religious Figures,Sudan,Treason,Wrongful Executions

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