Murderer Executed by Electric Chair
Friday, July 21, 2006
Convicted murderer Brandon W. Hedrick was executed last night in Virginia's electric chair, nine years after he raped and fatally shot a 23-year-old woman in Lynchburg.
Hedrick, 27, was pronounced dead at 9:12 p.m. at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, said Larry Traylor, a Department of Corrections spokesman. Hedrick, who chose to be electrocuted under a state law that allows inmates to pick the method of their execution, was the first death-row inmate to be put to death in the electric chair in the United States in more than two years.
Virginia is one of 10 states that allows electrocution. As in many of those states, however, the electric chair has fallen largely into disuse. In 1995, the state passed a law allowing death-row inmates the option of choosing lethal injection. The chair was rewired in 1991 after a series of botched electrocutions in Virginia and other states in the 1980s.
Hedrick was sentenced to death for abducting, sexually assaulting and killing Lisa Alexander Crider on May 11, 1997. He shot Crider in the face with a shotgun on the banks of the James River in Appomattox County and dumped her body in the water. Her face no longer recognizable, her head wrapped in duct tape and her hands shackled, Crider was later found in the river.
A jury convicted Hedrick and sentenced him to death in 1998. A co-defendant, Trevor Jones, was sentenced to life in prison.
Last night, after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) rejected a clemency petition in which Hedrick's attorneys contended that Hedrick did not rape Crider. His attorneys also argued that Hedrick's sentence should be commuted to life in prison because he received inadequate legal representation when his case initially went to trial.
"The trial, verdict, and sentence have been reviewed in detail by various state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Supreme Court of the United States," Kaine said in a statement. "Having carefully reviewed the Petition for Clemency and judicial opinions regarding this case, I find no reason to doubt Mr. Hedrick's guilt or to set aside the sentence that was recommended by the jury and then imposed and affirmed by the courts."
Traylor said Hedrick spent yesterday afternoon visiting with family. He requested a last meal of pizza with cheese, bacon and hamburger, French fries with ketchup, apple pie, bacon, and chocolate cake.
Traylor said that members of Crider's family were present yesterday to witness the execution.
When Hedrick entered the death chamber at 8:59 p.m., he appeared calm but alert. He did not struggle when guards strapped him into the chair with leather restraints and attached a metal clip to his leg and placed a metal helmet on his head.
Asked if he had any last words, Hedrick looked straight ahead and said: "I pray for everybody that believes in Jesus Christ in heaven. And I pray for the people that are unsaved because they know not what they do. I'm ready to go and be free."
At 9:02 p.m., a prison staffer pressed a button that delivered an 1,800-volt burst of electricity to Hedrick's body. A coil of smoke rose from his leg as he jerked upward in the chair and clenched his fists. He briefly jerked again when a second current pulsed through his body.
Until yesterday, Virginia's 97-year-old electric chair had been unused for more than three years. Before Hedrick, Earl C. Bramblett was the last person to be put to death in the state's electric chair, in April 2003. The last person in the country to be put to death in an electric chair before Hedrick was James Neil Tucker in 2004 in South Carolina.