Friday, May 9, 2014

Third Time's a Charm for Paul Johnson

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again! Those old words of wisdom definitely worked for Paul Beasley Johnson, who just earned his third trip to death row. Johnson was first convicted of a triple murder back in 1981, but his first death sentence was overturned because the jury wasn't properly sequestered. So a new trial was ordered, and Johnson was given the death penalty once again. But due to misconduct on the part of the prosecutor, the second death sentence was thrown out. A new jury was then charged with deciding Johnson's punishment, which turned out to be--yes, you guessed it--the death penalty once again.

While Johnson's future looks grim at this point, he does have one thing to look forward to; just three more death sentence convictions and he earns his free sub sandwich!

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Clock is Ticking for Billy Ray Irick

After a long stretch on Tennessee's death row, time is finally running out for convicted killer Billy Ray Irick. Sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl, Irick has been awaiting execution for an astounding 27 years. But on January 15th, that long wait will finally come to an end.

Despite overwhelming evidence, Irick's lawyers withdrew an insanity defense originally filed at the beginning of his trial. Perhaps they considered it normal behavior for someone to hear and obey voices in their head--sometimes referred to by Irick as "the devil," and other times simply as "the voice." They might've also seen nothing wrong with Irick chasing a girl down the street with a machete just because he didn't like the way she looked, or Irick's constant fear that the police would break into his home and kill him with chainsaws. Irick also once destroyed a television with an axe, and cut his sister's pajamas off of her with a razor while she slept.

But while sanity is subjective, inevitability is not. Only one month remains before Irick pays the ultimate penalty for his crimes.

UPDATE: Apparently that clock will keep on ticking just a little bit longer. Irick's execution has been rescheduled for October 7.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Franklin's Fashionable Follicles

Not many serial killers can claim to have as many hairstyles as they had victims, but Joseph Paul Franklin was the exception. Although none of the styles he experimented with were ever as popular as The Rachael, The Mullet, or even that weird thing Miley Cyrus does when she twists her hair into those stubby blonde horns, Franklin was still a man who knew how to turn heads on the death row cell block--even if the brains inside those heads were thinking, "What the hell has Franklin done now?"


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Manhandling Mannequins Like Murderer Martin MacNeill

Okay, so the Martin MacNeill trial isn't a death penalty case, but many people think it should be. I had the chance to recreate Michelle MacNeill's death scene on HLN After Dark recently, and if I could get that body out of the bathtub, I'm sure Dr. MacNeill could've done it, too. Watch the video and see what you think.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Who's Bad? Missouri's Death Row Inmates!

Death row inmates have always had a special affinity for Michael Jackson. After all, some of his top hits practically serve as anthems for their distinctive lifestyle. (Bad, Dangerous, Smooth Criminal, and a favorite among serial bludgeoners, Beat It) And although most convicted felons never get the chance to live like a rock star, some of them might get the chance to die like one.

Due to a shortage of traditional lethal injection drugs, the state of Missouri has now approved the use of the sedative propofol in its executions. That particular drug gained notoriety after Michael Jackson died from an accidental overdose in 2009. The need for a new execution drug stems from the fact that manufacturers of formerly-used drugs like pancuronium bromide and sodium thiopental stopped selling to US prisons because they didn’t want their products used for such unsavory procedures.

While a change in execution protocol sometimes causes concerns, Missouri’s death row inmates couldn’t be happier. Some have requested extensive plastic surgery and skin bleaching treatments prior to their executions, and others plan to wear a sequined glove to the lethal injection table.

Now whenever someone asks the musical question “Who’s bad?”, every death row inmate in Missouri can reply “Me! Me!”

Monday, July 15, 2013

The One Hill Georgia Lawmakers Can't Get Over

Georgia has a landmark called Stone Mountain. It's a huge chunk of rock soaring 825 feet into the sky, and it looks impossible to climb. But lately Georgia lawmakers have had more trouble with a six-foot hill--Warren Lee Hill, that is. The man who simply cannot be executed.

Hill was originally convicted for murdering his girlfriend, which earned him a life sentence. While in jail, he used a nail-studded board to murder his cellmate Joseph Handspike  (how ironic is that?). Hill was given the death penalty for that murder, but the state has had a devil of a time carrying that sentence out.

Last year, Hill's first execution was stayed when his lawyers challenged Georgia's switch from a three-drug lethal injection to a single drug process. Hill then came within an hour of execution in early 2013, but was given another stay when his lawyers argued that their client was mentally retarded. Hill was issued another date with death tonight, but the execution was halted for a third time at the last minute because Hill's lawyers claimed that the new drug used in Georgia's lethal injection process might be unsafe.

Yes, you heard me right. A drug that's designed to kill a person might be hazardous to your health. Hill's lawyers are also arguing that the steel bars on the prison's jail cells are too hard, and the ice in the prison cafeteria's drinks is too cold.