Indiana's 72-year-old electric chair took 17 minutes and five jolts of electricity yesterday to execute a man for the stabbing and dismemberment of his father-in-law; a prison official said the mechanism was working properly.
The chair, which is wired directly to a Northern Indiana Public Service Co. power substation, will be tested again "to reconfirm what we already know -- that it was not malfunctioning in any way," a Department of Correction spokesman said.
William E. Vandiver, 37, was pronounced dead at 12:20 a.m. in the wooden chair that has been used for executions since it was fashioned from the gallows abandoned by the state in 1913 after 13 hangings.
Dr. Rodger D. Saylors said the first jolts, 2,300 volts for 10 seconds and 500 volts for 20 seconds, left Vandiver brain-dead but breathing. The doctor said he could not explain why Vandiver survived a third surge, 500 volts for 20 seconds, with a heart rate of 40 beats per minute before he was killed by 2,300 volts for five seconds followed by 500 volts for 25 seconds.
Herbert Shaps, Vandiver's attorney and a witness to the execution, said Vandiver was hooded and sitting with his fists clenched when he was strapped into the chair at 12:02 a.m.
Vandiver's fists remained clenched throughout most of the execution, Shaps said. "I think it was outrageous," he said.
Vandiver was convicted in the 1983 slaying of his father-in-law, Paul Komyatti Sr., 65, a retired Hammond construction worker.
Vandiver's wife, Mariann, and Komyatti's wife and son, Rosemary and Paul Jr., also were convicted in the death and sentenced to prison. Investigators say the family hated the strict Komyatti and hoped to benefit from the inheritance.