Timothy Baldwin, convicted of bludgeoning to death an 85-year-old blind woman who was godmother to his youngest son, was executed in Louisiana's electric chair early today.
Baldwin, 46, was pronounced dead at 12:13 a.m. CDT, said C. Paul Phelps, secretary of Public Safety and Corrections in Baton Rouge.
He was the fourth person executed in Louisiana and the 24th in the United States since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstituted the death penalty in 1976.
Baldwin had seen seven execution dates pass since he was convicted in the 1978 slaying of Mary James Peters of West Monroe, a former neighbor who was beaten to death with an iron skillet, a wooden stool, a small TV set and a telephone.
But yesterday, the Supreme Court refused to block the execution.
"It's been what we've been waiting for for a long, long time," said Michael Baragona of Jonesboro, a grandson of Peters.
Frank Blackburn, warden of the Louisiana State Prison at Angola, said Baldwin spent his final hours "in good spirits" and was "pretty calm."
As prison officials prepared for the execution, about 50 people, carrying signs saying "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and "Electrocution Is No Solution," held a vigil on the lawn of the Governor's Mansion in Baton Rouge.
Gov. Edwin Edwards, who was in the mansion, did not address the group. Edwards has gone on record as opposing the death penalty but has said he would not become involved in Baldwin's case unless new evidence was introduced.