UNITED STATES. FLORIDA AND MISSISSIPPI EXECUTE ON SAME DAY
October 18, 2006: the states of Florida and Mississippi both executed convicted murderers by lethal injection.
Arthur Rutherford, a 57-year-old Vietnam veteran and handyman, was pronounced dead on October 18 evening, the governor's office said.
Rutherford was convicted of killing an Australian widow, 63-year-old Stella Salamon, in 1985. Salamon, who was found in her bathtub, died from drowning or asphyxiation, the medical examiner said. She had a broken arm, head wounds and bruises on her face and arms.
Rutherford, a Vietnam veteran who had worked as handyman for Salamon, had tried to challenge the state's lethal injection statutes.
In January, the US Supreme Court stopped Rutherford's execution just minutes before he was to be killed. It was later decided death row inmates could challenge the use of the lethal chemicals in federal courts, although Rutherford and others on death row haven't succeeded in using that argument to stop executions.
On the same evening in Mississippi, Bobby Glen Wilcher was executed by lethal injection for the 1982 stabbing deaths of two women who had asked to drive him home after he met them at a bar. The execution of Wilcher, 43, came less than two hours after the US Supreme Court declined to intervene as it did on Wilcher's first execution date in July.
Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said that before he died, Wilcher asked for a conjugal visit with a woman who had been a juror in one of his trials. Wilcher and the woman had developed a friendship, Epps said. The request was denied, but the woman was allowed to visit with his attorney and a paralegal.
Meanwhile, Donnie E. Johnson, a man scheduled to die on October 25 in Tennessee, says he has chosen the electric chair as his method of execution because he sees little difference â he sees both methods as inhumane. Johnson would be the first prisoner to be executed by that method in Tennessee in 46 years. Johnson, 55, was convicted of suffocating his wife in 1985.
Shackled and wearing a brown trucker hat embroidered with Bible scripture, Johnson told The Associated Press in an interview on October 18 that lethal injection may look less painful than electrocution, but it only masks the suffering of the inmate to witnesses.
"Would you rather be electrocuted or would you rather lay there 5 to 8 minutes while your organs shut down and you suffocate, fully experiencing it but not being able to express it? Tennessee Department of Correction officials say even though the state has not used the electric chair to carry out an execution in decades, staff members at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville where Johnson is housed are trained in using the chair and ready to carry out the execution. (Sources: The Associated Press, 18/10/2006)