VIRGINIA (USA): ROBERT GLEASON JR. EXECUTED IN ELECTRIC CHAIR
January 16, 2013: Robert Gleason Jr., 42, white, was executed in Virginia's electric chair at Greensville Correctional Center.
He became the first inmate executed in the United States this year and the first to choose death by electrocution since 2010.
In Virginia and nine other states, death row inmates are allowed to choose between electrocution and lethal injection.
Gleason was sentenced twice to death on September 6, 2011. One sentence was for killing inmate Harvey Watson, 63, on May 8, 2009, at Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap. The other was for killing inmate Aaron Cooper in July 2010 at Red Onion, the maximum-security prison built in Pound.
Gleason had pleaded guilty previously to both slayings. He said in court and in an interview with The Associated Press last year that he would kill again if he wasnât given the death penalty for Watsonâs slaying. He initially received life in prison for the May 8, 2007, shooting death of Michael Kent Jamerson, 53, in an attempt to cover up tracks in a methamphetamine dealing ring.
Gleason had fought last-minute attempts by former attorneys to block the scheduled execution. The lawyers had argued that he was not competent to waive his appeals and that more than a year spent in solitary confinement on death row had exacerbated his condition. 2 mental health evaluations done before Gleason was sentenced in 2011 said he was depressed and impulsive but competent to make decisions in his case.
Use of the electric chair remains rare in Virginia. Since inmates were given the option in 1995, only 6 of the 85 inmates executed since then have chosen electrocution over lethal injection.
Some protested outside the prison on Wednesday, saying Gleason's threats to continue killing should not be a reason to justify execution. Despite Gleason's crimes and his insistence on being executed, "the state should not kill its own citizens under any circumstances," said Virginians For Alternatives to the Death Penalty Executive Director Stephen Northup.
Gleason becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Virginia, and the 110th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982.
Only Texas has executed more condemned inmates (492) since the death penalty was re-legalized in the USA on July 2, 1976. Texas also resumed executions in 1982. Gleason becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1321st overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977. (Sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin, 16/01/2013)