Texas inmate kills himself hours before execution
By MICHAEL GRACZYK
LIVINGSTON � Condemned prisoner Michael Dewayne Johnson committed suicide early today in his death-row cell, less than 18 hours before he was scheduled to be executed, a prison official said.
Johnson slashed his throat with a makeshift blade fashioned from a small piece of metal attached to a wooden stick, said Michelle Lyons, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Huntsville.
Prison guards had been checking on Johnson's welfare every 15 minutes, as is customary, when they found him unresponsive in a pool of blood in his cell, Lyons said. He was transported to a hospital in nearby Livingston, where he was pronounced dead, Lyons said.
Johnson, 29, who was scheduled to die shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday, was convicted in the 1995 killing of a Waco-area convenience store clerk. He was 18 at the time of the crime.
Suicides on death row are not unprecedented, but Johnson was the closest to his scheduled execution. His last-minute appeal was still pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
And this is bad because...?
Victim's family was not allowed to witness it.
Was this execution more or less painful than death by injection? Will liberals argue that the prospect of feeling a needle led him to take his own life, thereby proving that injection is just too cruel and unusual?
Having never experience the lethal injection process myself, I wonder how ANYONE can claim that it is any more painful than, say, an IV for antibiotics, fluids or other things that are necessary for the health of a person. The only difference is that the purpose is to (1) sedate the criminal, then (2) kill the criminal while they're under sedation. Now, I *have* experienced sedation by IV, and I can tell you I FELT NOTHING while I was "under." I just don't see the cruel and unusual part about lethal injection at all. I'm just wondering who the opponents of lethal injection are using as their source for the information about the pain level. If it's not a voice of experience from beyond, then the credibility of this information is quite questionable. (did I really just say that? )
(BTW - on a more serious victim's advocate bent here: were their victims under sedation when they were killed? The criminals still have it better.)
Death row inmate takes his own life
The condemned man cut his throat as lawyer worked on final appeals
By ALLAN TURNER and STEVE MCVICKER
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle
Even as his attorney worked on last-minute appeals to save him from a Thursday night execution, death row inmate Michael DeWayne Johnson slashed his throat with a makeshift knife. The dying inmate then used his blood to write a final message on the wall of his cell: "I did not shoot him."
did we really expect him to write "rosebud" or "save the cheerleader, save the world"?
I suspect the suicide was more painful. And JB, you know the answer to your question about what the liberals will do. They will spin this event so that it fits their agenda, not reality.
Having watched the administration of the death penalty on one occasion, I can say that it is nothing I would really like to see again. Yet, I derived great relief from the fact that the offender that killed my friend and fellow prosecutor is dead, punished for his crime, and most importantly can never get out of prison on some technicality or law change. Also, he will never victimize another person, be that person a prison employee or an inmate.
Saying all that, I can say that I never really knew the meaning of the word "surreal" until I saw a man executed.
Personally, I would have been just as satisfied had the killer of my friend taken his own life on the eve of the execution. I would have celebrated no less at that, my friends.
One other aspect bears considering here. Although many victims may want to witness the death, having been through the process myself, I came away feeling empathy for the folks who have to administer the execution. The Warden, the fellow who ties down the inmate, the members of the victim assistance office of TDCJ, and the other prison employees directly involved in the execution. I suspect that no matter how in favor of the death penalty they are, there is a price that is paid mentally for their hard work. Talk to anyone who does this as their job and you can see it wears on them. Still, they are able to do their duty and maintain normal lives. I salute them, for they have a difficult job.
though i think they will at some point claim that this demonstrates just how painful the needle is that an inmate would want to slash his own throat to avoid it, i suspect that the greater argument from the anti-death penalty opponents will be to claim this as a true tragedy because he was an allegedly innocent man. i think they will find the "i did not shoot him" written in blood to be such a compelling message that they will use it to ride the innocence message. eventually, they may even morph his suicide into a more general claim that the system killed an innocent man. i thought the arguments in this case have been about why the prosecution did not disclose a testifying witness's confession to the murder. if that's the right case, then his suicide would only seem to confirm those arguments (in some bizarro world where non sequiters reign). i see this used more as an attack on the failure of the appellate system that could not get to his claims fast enough or that whitewashed his claims. but i'm not yoda, so what do i know?
[This message was edited by David Newell on 10-20-06 at .]
I'm just glad to see that I'm not the only one watching Heroes.
Knowning someone as hip and erudite as yourself is watching it, too, makes feel like less of a geek.
The "needle" is not the pain they argue. They argue that the sedative is too short acting to provide sufficient sedation. Then when the paralysis drug is used next they have no ability to show they are suffering pain when the last drug is used to stop their heart. I almost had to deal with this, as a civil suit was filed in Austin State District Court under 1983, but the AAG removed it to Fed Ct - hearing at 2 today in Austin.
By the way in the last 3 days I have had two subsequent writs filed, first one denied, second one, filed at 3:30 yesterday, is pending.
This is on Gregory Summers - scheduled for execution tomorrow. Murder for hire scheme - had Andrew Cantu kill his parents (adopted) and his uncle then burn the house for the insurance money. Andrew Cantu has already been executed and now he claims that because Cantu cannot clear him we should know that he was actually innocent. After all Cantu did not testify at trial and all we had was circumstantial evidence.
any possibility that he was shooting for the outcome that Enron Lay got? "Take that State of Texas!"
Oct. 25, 2006, 6:07PM
Rolling executed for murders of 5 Florida college students
STARKE, Fla. � Danny Harold Rolling, Florida's most notorious serial killer since Ted Bundy, was executed by injection Wednesday for butchering five college students in a ghastly string of slayings that terrorized Gainesville in 1990.
Rolling, 52, was pronounced dead at 6:13 p.m. EDT, more than 16 years after his killing rampage at the start of the University of Florida's fall semester.
The bodies of his victims were found over three days in late August, just as the University of Florida's fall semester was beginning. All had been killed with a hunting knife. Some had been mutilated, sexually assaulted and put in shocking poses. One girl's severed head had been placed on a shelf, her body posed as if seated.
The killing spree touched off a huge manhunt and plunged the laid-back college town into panic. Students fled and residents armed themselves.
Belongings that Rolling left at a campsite in the woods and DNA taken after a later arrest for robbery linked him to the slayings. When he came up for trial in 1994, he shocked the courtroom by pleading guilty.
"There are some things you just can't run from, this being one of those," Rolling told the judge.
He later told the Associated Press: "I do deserve to die, but do I want to die? No. I want to live. Life is difficult to give up."
And I keep hoping that Gregory Summers will say his last words - but here I sit at 837 pm and the U S S CT has not ruled on his 3rd mot to stay. Of course they have already denied one with an orig writ and one with his pet for cert on his 1983 lethal inj claim, but now after filing a 1983 claim against us for denying access to "alleged" Brady material, which was already the grounds in his orig writ the S Ct denied we wait and wait for a ruling.
Well I guess the S CT heard my plea - the denied his stay and execution will go forward.
Oct. 25, 2006, 10:30PM
Inmate refuses food to protest his treatment
Officials say man on death row is in his second week of not eating; relative challenges account
By ALLAN TURNER
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle
A former Houston oilfield worker sentenced to die for shooting a disabled man at close range with a sawed-off shotgun during an October 1991 robbery has entered the second week of a hunger strike to protest prison conditions.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said Stephen Moody, 49, stopped eating on Oct. 15 but is drinking water and being evaluated daily by medical staff.
Murder-for-hire convict executed
10:18 PM CDT on Wednesday, October 25, 2006
HUNTSVILLE, Texas � Gregory Summers was executed Wednesday for initiating a murder-for-hire plot that authorities said led to the fatal stabbing of his parents and an uncle.
The lethal injection of Summers, 48, came more than seven years after the execution of Andrew Cantu, convicted of taking the $10,000 offer and fatally stabbing Gene and Helen Summers, both 64, and Billy Mack Summers, 60. Their home in Abilene was set on fire after they were attacked and their bodies were found in the rubble.
Gregory Summers was the 22nd inmate executed this year in Texas, the nation's most active death penalty state. At least three other inmates have execution dates over the next four weeks.
Asked by Warden Thomas Prasifka if he had a final statement while strapped to the Texas death chamber gurney, Summers replied "no." Eight minutes later, at 9:16 p.m. CDT, he was pronounced dead.
Good work, PK, to you and your fellow ADA's!
Thanks to AAG Georgette Oden for all the last minute briefs she had to file in the 5th Cir and S CT - I only had 2 state subsequent writs that I responded to - memo in support of denial under 11.071 sec 5. She had to brief the 1983 lethal inj claim and the 1983 claim against the DA, AG, TDCJ, etc for allegedly w/holding Brady material.
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