December 4, 1987 |
A Bucks County woman whose former husband is on Pennsylvania's death row has been turned down in her bid to march in a local Christmas parade carrying a mock electric chair. Brenda L. Williams, 32, will still march from Perkasie to her hometown of Sellersville with her son, Kenneth J. Williams Jr., 10. And they will hand out pamphlets they hope will convince paradegoers that Kenneth Sr., the boy's father, is not a murderer. But they have bowed to parade organizers, who shuddered at the thought of a float sharing the route with Santa and carrying a six-foot-high model in wood and sheet metal of Pennsylvania's electric chair.
September 9, 1987 |
Former Upper Merion High School principal Jay C. Smith was sentenced yesterday to die in the electric chair for the slayings of schoolteacher Susan Reinert and her two children. Dauphin County Senior Judge William Lipsitt imposed the three death sentences as Smith stood impassively before the bench, his hands folded in front of him, his attorney standing by his side in the packed courtroom. Before sentencing, Smith delivered an impassioned 40-minute plea in which he once again denied his guilt in the 1979 murders of Reinert; her daughter, Karen, 11, and her son, Michael, 10. "There is no Reinert blood on my hands," Smith said.
April 23, 1990 |
The prosecution planned to seek the death sentence today for a reputed founder of the Junior Black Mafia convicted of the execution-style shooting of an alleged street corner drug dealer in a dispute over drug turf. The penalty phase of the trial of Leonard "Bazil" Patterson, 29, of Florence Avenue near 56th Street, convicted Saturday of first-degree murder, follows the sentencing of two other reputed JBM members to life terms for an unrelated killing. Assistant District Attorney Joel Rosen said Patterson's victim, John Wesley Tate, 25, had competed with a drug dealer working under Patterson 34th and Wallace streets.
November 30, 1990 |
Gov. Casey yesterday signed into law a dozen bills passed by the General Assembly toward the conclusion of its 1989-90 session, including a measure replacing the electric chair with lethal injection as the means of execution in the state. Benjamin Livingood, a spokesman for the state Corrections Department, said the state's electric chair, kept at the state prison in Rockview and used for 350 executions between 1915 and 1962, would be dismantled. There has not been an execution in Pennsylvania since 1962.
February 9, 1990 |
The state Supreme Court, in three opinions handed down yesterday, snubbed the appeals of three notorious murderers, saying each had earned the electric chair. The high court's action, the likely end of Pennsylvania court review of the cases, means the death row dwellers now get to plead their cases in the federal courts and, if they're lucky, in the U.S. Supreme Court. Those appeals are likely to take years, even if the governor signs their death warrants and the state starts putting its electric chair to use for the first time since 1962.
February 21, 1990 |
A wide grin grew across Michael Gaynor's face when a Common Pleas Court jury announced yesterday that he and a codefendant would be spared the electric chair and instead would spend the rest of their lives in prison for the 1988 murder of 5-year-old Marcus Yates. "They gave me life! They gave me life!" Gaynor, 23, said as he turned and looked at his mother and aunt, who were sitting in the courtroom. Donovan Grant, 22, the man with whom Gaynor had a shootout in a Southwest Philadelphia candy store that Marcus and 10 other children were visiting, showed little reaction to the sentence, which was handed down about 1 1/2 hours after the jury began deliberations at 1 p.m. On Monday, the jury found Grant and Gaynor guilty of first-degree murder in Marcus' death.
January 24, 1989 |
Serial killer Ted Bundy, America's most notorious death row inmate, died in Florida's electric chair today after confessing to the murders of nearly two dozen young women in several Western states, witnesses said. The 42-year-old law school dropout had defied the state of Florida for 11 years, eluding the electric chair and exuding wit and charm as he maneuvered his way through the legal system. But when the state finally cornered him in the death chamber for the murder of 12-year-old Kimberly Leach, a frightened Bundy went to his death humbly.
July 10, 1995 |
They stood outside the courthouse last fall cursing her name, a despondent, unruly crowd shouting, "Baby murderer!" after Susan Smith confessed to drowning her two young sons. Ten months later, with jury selection for Smith's trial set to begin today, many residents have set aside for now trying to understand why a mother would murder her children. Instead, they grapple with another, equally haunting question: Are they capable of sentencing one of their own - a 23-year-old daughter of the community - to the electric chair?
August 10, 1999 |
The condemned man wore a hood. His executioner was shielded from view. So it was impossible for anyone present to know precisely when the first arc of electricity pulsed through the body of Allen Lee Davis - small-time burglar, triple murderer, and on a Thursday last month, the 240th inmate this century to be executed by the State of Florida. But for those who watched Davis die, what happened next is beyond dispute. Blood gushed from his head, spilled over his chin strap and pooled on his chest.
October 19, 1988 |
Christopher Davis was leafing through an almanac when his eye lighted on an item under the heading "Firsts in America. " It read: "Electrocution of a criminal: William Kemmler in Auburn Prison, Auburn, N. Y., Aug. 6, 1890. " That was in the late 1960s, and Davis, an author with several books to his credit, was looking for a subject for a novel. Eventually he wrote a fictional account of Kemmler's execution, A Peep Into the 20th Century, published in 1971. Now he has turned the novel into a play that will open tomorrow as a co- production of the Philadelphia Festival for New Plays and the Annenberg Center.