An Alabama inmate who asked jurors in his murder trial to impose the death penalty then told his lawyers to stop last-ditch appeals was electrocuted early today, the first of four scheduled executions across the nation on the same day.
Wayne Eugene Ritter, 33, who was convicted in the 1977 murder-robbery of a pawnbroker, was pronounced dead at 12:18 a.m., said John Hale, a state Corrections Department spokesman.
In Utah, so-called "Hi-Fi" killer Pierre Dale Selby was to die by lethal injection, while Florida inmates Beauford White, 41, and Gerald Stano, 35, were to be electrocuted. Both Florida inmates had been scheduled to die Wednesday but won reprieves.
The execution of Georgia inmate William Mitchell, 35, which had been set for today, was postponed until Tuesday.
Ritter became the 20th inmate executed in the United States this year. The most in any year since the landmark 1976 Supreme Court decision that allowed resumption of capital punishment was 21, in 1984.
In the only previous multiple-execution day since 1976, there were two executions on July 8, one in Texas and one in Mississippi.
Despite Ritter's wishes that his attorneys drop the case, it was taken to the Supreme Court. But the court, which had turned down earlier appeals, failed to act on the case.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta yesterday refused to grant Ritter a stay of execution, and Gov. Guy Hunt (R), in his first clemency appeal, declined to commute the sentence to life.