Thousands await executions in U.S. prisons
Sunday 29th April, 2007
Ryan Dickson was killed on Thursday by the State of Texas.
The 30 year old double-murderer was put to death by lethal injection in the state’s thirteenth execution this year.
Texas currently has 385 prisoners on Death Row, 10 of which are female. The clearance rate is just as high. Five inmates were put to death last month. 8 will be executed in the next 90 days, two in May, 4 in June, and two in July.
Dickson was 18 at the time of his offence, and had been on Death Row for ten years. He and his 15 year old step brother robbed a grocery store owned by a couple in their sixties in Amarillo in November 1994. They were confronted by the store owner, who was 61. Dickson brought a sawed-off 22-caliber rifle from under his coat and shot the owner in the chest. He then shot the man’s wife, 60, in the face notwithstanding she had all the money from the cash register on to the counter for the robbers to take. For their efforts the Dicksons netted $52 in cash and some beer.
On Thursday, nearly thirteen years later he was injected with sodium thiopental to sedate him; pancuronium bromide to relax his muscles and to collapse his diaphragm and lungs; and potassium chloride to stop his heart beat. It took seven minutes for him to die. The cost for the drugs injected: $86.08.
Three people died for $52, and it cost $86.08 to kill the one who murdered the other two.
Death Row detainees are allowed a last statement prior to their execution. Dickson apologized to his victims and said goodbye to his family.
Many of the last statements are similar, some however are chilling as detainees maintain their innocence or vent their fury at their keepers at the prison.
James Clark who was executed two weeks ago was brief. “Uh, I don't know, Um, I don't know what to say. I don't know. (pause) I didn't know anybody was there. Howdy,” he said. Clark was convicted of robbery, rape, and murder of a 17-year-girl in 1993.
Roy Pippen who was executed two weeks earlier had more to say. “Yes sir, I charge the people of the jury. Trial Judge, the Prosecutor that cheated to get this conviction. I charge each and every one of you with the murder of an innocent man. All the way to the CCA, Federal Court, 5th Circuit and Supreme Court. You will answer to your Maker when God has found out that you executed an innocent man. May God have mercy on you.”
“My love to my son, my daughter, Nancy, Cathy, Randy, and my future grandchildren. I ask for forgiveness for all of the poison that I brought into the US, the country I love. Please forgive me for my sins. f my murder makes it easier for everyone else let the forgiveness please be a part of the healing. Go ahead Warden, murder me. Jesus take me home,” Pippen said.
Pippen who was involved in the Columbian drug trade was convicted of kidnapping and murder.
Vincent Gutierrez who, with two associates, murdered a 40 year old Hispanic man during a carjacking said, “I would like to tell everybody that I'm sorry about the situation that happened. My bad - everybody is here because of what happened. I'd like to thank everybody that's been here through the years. The little kids overseas - they really changed me. Sister Doris, mom, brothers, sister, dad; I love ya'll. My brother... where's my stunt double when you need one? My Lord is my life and savior, nothing shall I fear.”
Charles Neal, who murdered a 25 year old Asian male clerk while robbing a convenience store in Dallas in 1997, in his last statement said, “Ya'll know I love you, you too Ward. You have been a good friend. You are a good investigator. Doug, I thank you for coming from Michigan. Chris and David, I love you. Thank them for their support Doug. Debra, James, I'm not crying so you don't cry. Don't be sad for me. I'm going to be with God, Allah, and Momma. I'm gonna ask dad why didn't give you away at your wedding. Randy Greer, my little brother, I'll be watching you, stay out of trouble. All my nieces and nephews, I love you all. Sammie, Vincent, and Yolanda, I will be watching over you all.”
“The reason it took them so long is because they couldn't find a vein. You know how I hate needles - I used to stay in the Doctor's Office. Tell the guys on Death Row that I'm not wearing a diaper. I can't think of anything else. You all stay strong. Now you can put this all aside. Don't bury me in the prison cemetery. Bury me right beside momma. Don't bury me to the left of dad, bury me on the right side of mom,” Neal said.
“Kim Schaeffer, you are a evil woman. You broke the law. The judges and courts helped you and you didn't have all the facts. hen you look at the video, you know you can't see anyone. You overplayed your hand looking for something against me and to cover it up the State is killing me. I'm not mad or bitter though. I'm sad that you are stuck here and have to go through all of this. I am going somewhere better. My time is up. Let me get ready to make my transition. Doug, don't forget Marcy,” Neal concluded in his last statement.
Robert Perez, who with two associates shot and killed two men as part of an internal power struggle in the Mexican Mafia said, “Yes sir, Ernest, Christopher, Ochente, Mary and Jennifer tell all the kids I love them and never forget. Tell Bobby, Mr. Bear will be dancing for them. Tell Bear not to feel bad. My love always, I love you all. Stay strong Mary, take care of them. I love you too. I am ready Warden.”
Texas, which leads the nation in the number of executions, has been using lethal injections for the last thirty years. Prior to that the state used the electric chair. 361 detainees were electrocuted from the time the electric chair was introduced in 1923. One of the most notorious offenders to be electrocuted was Raymond Hamilton, a member of the 'Bonnie and Clyde' gang. He was sentenced from Walker County and executed on May 10, 1935, for murder. Hamilton and another man had escaped from death row, only to be recaptured and returned to Death Row.
Prior to 1923 those sentenced to death were hanged.
When capital punishment was declared 'cruel and unusual punishment' by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 29, 1972, there were 45 men on Death Row in Texas, and seven in county jails with a death sentence. All of the sentences were commuted to life sentences by the Governor of Texas, and Death Row was clear by March 1973.
In 1973, revision to the Texas Penal Code once again allowed assessment of the death penalty and allowed for executions to resume effective January 1st 1974. Under the new statute, the first man John Devries was placed on Death Row the following month. Devries committed suicide just 5 months later by hanging himself with bed sheets.
As of December 31,1999, the death penalty was authorized by 38 states and the Federal Government.
Texas, California, and Florida have the largest death row populations.
Last year, 53 persons in fourteen States were executed: 24 in Texas; five in Ohio; 4 each in Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Virginia; and one each in Indiana, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, California, Montana, and Nevada.
3,254 offenders were under sentence of death in the United States as of December 31, 2005.