execution by state
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Robert Williams was executed by the State of Louisiana for the murder of a guard during a robbery. According to court documents Robert Williams would rob a grocery store where he would shoot and kill a guard. Robert Williams would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death. Robert Williams would be executed by way of the electric chair on December 14, 1983

Robert Williams More News

Convicted killer Robert Wayne Williams, proclaiming he hoped his death would serve as a statement ‘that capital punishment is no good and never has been,’ was executed early Wednesday.

He was the first person to die in Louisiana’s electric chair since 1961 and the 10th person to be executed in the United States since 1977.

He was pronounced dead by Dr. Alfred Gould at 1:15 a.m. CST, 1 hour and 10 minutes after the U.S. Supreme court rejected a last-ditch appeal to halt the execution. Prison officials said the switch on the electric chair was thrown at 1:06 a.m.

‘It went peacefully. There were no problems at all,’ said Mike Martin, undersecretary of corrections.

Williams, carrying a blue handkerchief in one hand, was escorted to the chair at 12:55 a.m. and bound by eight straps, including one that held his chin. A grey hood was placed over his head.

His hands :lenched when the switch triggering the first of a rapid series of 2,000 volts was thrown. His body became rigid. The four jolts of electricity spanned 1 minute, 10 seconds.

A small flame and a wisp of smoke was visible from around the strap on his left leg.

Gould, who pronounced the last prisoner to die in the state’s electric chair 22 years ago, then removed the hood from Williams’ head, closed the convict’s eyes and placed the hood back over his head.

The Rev. J.D. Brown said Williams had written his own eulogy for a Friday night funeral in Baton Rouge.

‘I believe. I feel deeply in the heart that God has come into my life and saved me,’ Williams said minutes before he was executed.

‘I told the truth about what happened,’ Williams said. ‘If my death do happen I would like it to be a remembrance for the whole country that would be a deterrence against capital punishment and that capital punishment is no good and never has been good.’

Williams, 31, was convicted in the Jan. 5, 1979, slaying of 67-year-old security guard Willie Kelly during a robbery at a Baton Rouge grocery store.

The execution was delayed one hour on the orders of Gov. Dave Treen to enable attorneys time to file a final appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. But Justice Byron White rejected the plea — that Williams was unaware of his right to overrule his attorney and testify in his own behalf — shortly before midnight

Two months ago, White had issued a stay in a similar last-minute appeal on the execution of convicted Texas killer James David Autry.

Robert Williams was the 10th person put to death in the United States since executions were resumed with the death of Gary Gilmore before a Utah firing squad in 1977.

He was also the second black man put to death since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 lifted its ban on capital punishment.

Williams pleaded for a life prison sentence instead of execution, but his request was rejected by the state Pardon Board a week before he died. An 11th-hour appeal to Treen also was rejected.

Robert Williams claimed his sawed-off shotgun went off accidentally while he was under the influence of drugs.

Earlier, Williams was turned down by U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola. Polozola’s one-sentence rejection sent the condemned man’s attorney back to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

But the three-judge federal appeals panel also rejected the plea, saying Williams’ contention he was never advised of his right to testify should have been presented in previous hearings.

Treen said he read all court documents in the case, and was guided by ‘wise counsel, sincere advice and prayers by :lergy.’

I do not find that the judicial system has failed or that there is any other justification for the exercise of the extraordinary clemency power given the governor,’ Treen said.

As the time drew nearer to his execution, prison officials said they believed Williams resigned himself to death.

‘He’s very quiet right now,’ Warden Ross Maggio said less than two hours before the execution.

Robert Williams, his head shaved, awaited his death in a cell less than 25 feet from ‘Gruesome Gertie,’ the 6-foot-tall chair built in 1941 and last used in 1961 to execute Jesse James Ferguson. Williams declined a last meal, Maggio said.

Williams’ family left the prison at 6 p.m. His mother, Rosella, an assistant minister at the Church of God in Baton Rouge, returned to address a small group of protesters huddled in the cold wind outside the isolated compound.

‘My heart is grieved because I know my son Robert had an unfair trial,’ she said. ‘If this had been a rich man he would not be faced with the electric chair tonight. Therefore, we can say there is no justification in capital punishment.’

About 30 protesters held a vigil on the muddy grounds until they received word Robert Williams was dead.


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