Tuesday, March 17, 2015

(Bad) Luck of the Irish

Some people might say it's a no-brainer to execute a man who killed a cop. But attorneys for Cecil Clayton, who landed on Missouri's death row for doing just that, tried to save their client's life by claiming that Clayton himself was a no-brainer.

To clarify, Clayton's attorneys attempted a last-minute appeal to the US Supreme Court based on the fact that a small portion of Clayton's brain had to be removed following an accident at a sawmill in 1972 which sent a chunk of wood into Clayton's noggin. They claimed that accident played a key role in Clayton's murder of a sheriff's deputy decades later, in 1996. But the appeal was denied, and Clayton was executed by the state of Missouri on St. Patrick's Day.

Instead of a traditional Irish feast for his last meal, Cecil Clayton requested fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, and cola.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Death and Taxes and Texas

As Benjamin Franklin said, nothing in this world is certain except death and taxes. And in Texas, the two sometimes go hand in hand.

Convicted killer Manuel Vasquez was executed by the state of Texas tonight for a murder that took place in 1998. Vasquez, who was working as a hit man for the Mexican Mafia at the time, beat and strangled a female drug dealer who refused to pay taxes to a local gang.

Because Texas no longer allows special last meal requests, Vasquez was given the same food as others in his unit. For his last meal, Vasquez was served Pepper Steak, mashed potatoes, brown gravy, carrots, ranch style beans, sliced bread, and apple glazed cake, with a choice of water, tea, or punch to drink.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

No Happy Ending for This Storey

Shortly after midnight, the state of Missouri executed condemned killed Walter Storey for a brutal murder committed during a home invasion in 1990. Storey chose a rather pedestrian cheeseburger and French fries for his final meal.

Storey's story is notable because it ends Missouri's long tradition of midnight executions. From now on, executions will take place at the more decent hour of 6pm, which is a common time for executions in other states. Hopefully this means that all the yawning and snoring will be coming form the man on the lethal injection table from now on, as opposed to the roomful of witnesses.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Newbury to be Buried

Donald Newbury, a member of the infamous "Texas 7" (the unluckiest 7 in the history of the number, by the way) was executed tonight by the state of Texas. Newbury and 6 other Texas convicts gained notoriety for a daring prison escape in 2000, and while on the run the gang murdered a police officer. One member of the gang committed suicide before the group was re-arrested, and two other members have already been executed for the police officer's murder.

Since Texas no longer allows special last meal requests, Newbury was served the same food as others in his unit. For his last meal, Newbury had baked chicken, beef noodle casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, pinto beans, bread, and carrot cake, with water and tea to drink.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Good Meal for a Bad Ladd

Thirty seven years after he committed his first murder, Robert Charles Ladd was finally executed by the state of Texas.

Ladd’s first capital crime occurred in 1978, when he killed a woman and her two small children then set the woman’s house on fire. Ladd served only 16 years of a 40-year sentence for those crimes before being paroled. Then, in 1996, he killed another woman by beating her with a hammer, strangling her, then setting her body on fire. Afterward, Ladd stole a TV, jewelry, and other small household items and traded them for crack cocaine.

Since Texas did away with special last meal requests,  condemned prisoners are served the same food as others in their unit. That means a Texas inmate’s last meal is a real coin toss; will the dying prisoner get something good, or will the Texas prison system’s notorious chicken patties rear their ugly head?

In Ladd’s case, his last meal of classic comfort food was much better than he deserved. For his last meal, Ladd was served meat loaf, mashed potatoes, tomato gravy, carrots, black eyed peas, and sliced bread, with a choice of water, tea, or punch to drink.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fourth Time is a Charm for Warren Lee Hill

If someone asked Warren Lee Hill for his advice on how to be executed, he might say, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” That’s because the convicted double-murderer was up for execution three other times before the state of Georgia finally pulled the trigger tonight, so to speak.

Hill was originally jailed for murdering his girlfriend. Then, while in prison, he used a nail-studded board to murder his cellmate Joseph Handspike. That’s right; Hill basically used a “handspike” to murder a man named Handspike. The irony is amazing—it would be like beating a man named Bill Hoover to death with a vacuum cleaner, or using a Philips Head screwdriver to stab a man named John Philips. If only his cellmate had been named for a soft, safe, non-lethal item, like Brad Flowers or Matt Kleenex or Ben Cotton.

Despite being up for execution four times, Hill never exercised his right to order a special last meal. Today he was served the same food as others in his unit, which meant that Warren Hill’s last meal was Shepherd’s Pie, mashed potatoes, red bean, cabbage relish salad, cornbread, sugar cookies, and fruit punch.