Maryland Executes Woman's Killer

By Eric Rich and Daniel de Vise
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, December 6, 2005

BALTIMORE, Dec. 5 -- Death row inmate Wesley E. Baker died by lethal injection Monday night, becoming the first black man executed in Maryland since a state-sponsored study found disparities, by race and geography, in how the death penalty law is used.

Baker, 47, was condemned to death for fatally shooting Jane Tyson, in front of her two grandchildren, in a robbery in a Catonsville mall parking lot more than a decade ago.

The execution began at 9:08 p.m. at the old Maryland State Penitentiary in Baltimore. The curtain behind the window into the execution chamber opened, and Baker could be seen lying on a gurney, covered to his chest with a white sheet. His outstretched arms were bound by leather straps, and intravenous lines came from a hole in the wall into both of his arms.

Prison chaplain Charles Canterna touched his face and right hand, then stepped away. About 9:10, Baker's mouth moved, as he appeared to speak or swallow. The chaplain approached him, said a few words and touched his face.

Baker took six or seven deep breaths. Each was a rasping sound audible to the witnesses, who included media representatives, three of Baker's attorneys, and Baltimore County Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan.

Four members of Tyson's family, who were not identified, watched from an area separate from the other witnesses.

The curtain into the chamber was closed at 9:16 p.m. One of seven men sentenced to die in Maryland, Baker was pronounced dead at 9:18 p.m.

Baker's last meal was breaded fish, pasta with marinara sauce, green beans, an orange, bread, fruit punch and milk.

He was executed only hours after the state's highest court and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene in the case and less than an hour after Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) announced that he would not grant clemency.

Baker was the first execution in the state since June 2004 and the fifth since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

"I'm glad it's over," Tyson's brother Martin Andree said in a phone interview Monday night from his home in Florida. "Anytime somebody's life is taken, it is a sad thing. But we have a justice system, and as long as that's the law, we need to follow through with it."

He added that the delays caused by appeals and a death penalty moratorium made it feel "like prying the scab off a wound. . . . I think that wound will heal now."

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2005 The Washington Post Company