John Smith was executed by the State of Georgia for a double murder committed during a robbery. According to court documents John Smith and two accomplices would lure the victim to a remote part of Georgia. The victim would show up with his new wife and they both would be shot and killed. John Smith would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death. John Smith would be executed by way of the electric chair on December 15, 1983
John Smith More News
John Eldon Smith, a 53-year-old insurance salesman convicted of a double murder, went to his death on this brilliantly blue morning after nine years of appeals. He was the second man to be executed this week.
Mr. Smith made no final statement of his own and refused to select the witnesses for his electrocution. His face betrayed no emotion as he walked to the death chamber, and he complained only that the straps of the chair were being pulled too much as guards fastened them. ”Hey, there ain’t no point in pulling so tight,” he said.
The swiftness of the procedure, which one witness described as ”antiseptic and sterile,” emphasized the quickening pace of executions in the United States. Mr. Smith was the 11th man to be executed since the United States Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the fifth to die this year and the second in two days.
”We have crossed a threshold,” said Henry Schwarzschild, director of the capital punishment project of the American Civil Liberties Union in New York. Entering a New Period
”Before the mid-70’s, there were one or two executions a year,” he said. ”We have entered a new period where executions are utterly likely. They will be resumed in some substantial number not because, once having smelled blood, society is bloodthirsty, but for technical reasons because of the way the legal system operates.”
Mr. Schwarzschild said he did not foresee any more executions this year but estimated 30 to 50 inmates would be put to death in 1984 after exhausting their appeals.
Witnesses to the execution said that before his execution, Mr. Smith asked the Rev. Robert Wise to read his final statement. The Roman Catholic priest recited from II Corinthians: ”Indeed we know when the earthly tent in which we dwell is destroyed, we have a dwelling prepared by God.”
He concluded, ”Father, I abandon myself in your hands.”
Mr. Smith uttered only a few words. He said, ”thank you, Father,” to the priest and made the remark to the guards who were strapping him in.
The prison where Mr. Smith died is beside an expressway leading to Atlanta, and seems less remote than the backwoods Louisiana State Penitentiary where Robert Wayne Williams was put to death before dawn Wednesday. But ultimately their lives were extinguished in the same way. The Sentence Carried Out
A square of material was draped over Mr. Smith’s face and a leatherstrapped cap containing an electrode was placed over his head.
So tightly was he strapped to the chair, witnesses said, it was difficult to tell when the three unidentified executioners pressed three small buttons, one of which sent 2,000 volts of electricity through the condemned man’s body for two minutes. According to prison tradition, none of the executioners knew if his was the lethal button. Mr. Smith’s body tensed as if he had taken a deep breath; his right hand curled upward, the thumb touching the index finger. The hair on his arms and legs curled.
The body remained in the chair for six minutes before the prison warden, Ralph Kemp, along with two physicians and the guards, all with name tags removed, entered to examine the corpse and pronounce the man dead.
Outside the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center, protestors who had been videotaped by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation sang ”Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”
Mr. Smith drew the death sentence after he was convicted of shooting his wife’s former husband, Ronald Akins, and Mr. Akins’ new wife, Juanita, on Aug. 31, 1974 in a plot to collect $20,000 in insurance money. The plot was said to have been concocted by Mr. Smith’s wife, Rebecca Machetti, and carried out by Mr. Smith and another man, John Maree, both of whom are serving life sentences.
According to court testimony, Mr. Smith hoped to impress the Mafia with his prowess as a hit man