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First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution

San Franicisco Chronicle reporter Kevin Fagan was a witness at the California execution of James Beardslee this week. Here's his account. Fagan reports the execution took 11 minutes. He says Beardslee slipped quietly into death, but how does he know when one of the drugs paralyzes and prevents the injectee from making any sounds or movements or response?

After 12:21 he didn't twitch a muscle. At 12:29 it was over.

One of Beardslee's last unsuccessful grounds for appeal was that the particular drugs administered amounted to a violation of his first amendment right to scream in agony should he feel it.

Then there was this, according to the reporter, " one slight hitch":

From midnight to 12:16 a.m., two prison guards hunted for the right places to insert the needles -- and that's where the only complication cropped up. The right arm catheter was attached in five minutes, about normal, but as the guards prodded his left arm for the vein they thought would yield easily, they had no luck.

It took 11 minutes to tap a secondary spot, about twice as long as in most other executions, but Beardslee never moved or spoke as the metal poked at his skin again and again. Neither did the guards, though their lips progressively tightened as they undoubtedly realized the procedure was taking too long.

At least one family member of the victim was glad to see Beardslee die. "I saw what I wanted to see. I'm glad," he said. Not all family members of murdered victims share that view. Check out Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation.

There are also differing views of Beardslee's crimes. The Chronicle reports:

Beardslee was in the death chamber because he had throttled and slashed 19-year-old Stacey Benjamin and shotgunned her friend, 23-year-old Patty Geddling, in 1981 after they were lured to his Redwood City apartment in a beef over a drug debt.

According to Jeanne D'Arc of Body and Soul,

Four men murder two young women, but only one of them is sentenced to death. The one who planned the murders? Of course not. It's the one with virtually no function on the right side of his brain. The one who confessed and led investigators to one of the bodies. The one with the passive personality who surely was taking orders from others.

Schwarzenegger's next clemency decision might involve Crips founder Stanley 'Tookie' Williams, nominated for a Nobel peace prize while on death row. He's also the subject of the tv movie Redemption, starring Jamie Fox. We'll have a lot more to say about his clemency petition as that decision gets closer.

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    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 10:50:52 AM EST
    Justice for a sociopath.

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 11:16:09 AM EST
    The SF Chronicle kept describing the prisoner as "the murderer," with little mention of his mental incapacity. Not mentioned: that apparently none of the others involved in the original murder got the death penalty. The Chron reported on a debate between relatives of the woman who was killed (who were 'relieved' at Beardslee's death) and anti-death-penalty demonstrators.

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 11:17:17 AM EST
    Bendito, I know that Bush is really bad for our society, but don't you think that lethal injection is a bit harsh? Oh, sorry. What were you talking about?

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#4)
    by John Mann on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 11:19:16 AM EST
    The flagrant violation of Mr. Beardslee's First Amendment right to "scream in agony" should concern anyone who supports the death penalty as well as those who are condemned to suffer it. Surely Mr. Beardslee would have resisted being put to death, had he been able to, and upon being subdued, would certainly have raised a fuss, probably yelling and shouting and, as his lawyer pleaded, very likely screaming in agony as well. Those who support the death penalty - not to mention those condemned to pay the ultimate price for their misdeeds - are deprived equally: the former to salivate and watch through glazed eyes as the condemned person carries on, and the latter of his or her right to convey to witnesses that the process does, in fact, hurt, maybe even quite a lot. Perhaps a more standardized form of state-sponsored execution could be adopted in which the condemned would be put in to a reasonably-sized room constructed of reinforced glass, then shot with a dart that would result in death in no more than 10 or 15 minutes or so. With closed-circuit tv and strategically placed chairs for witnesses, no one should be without a good view of the proceedings. This method would do much to lessen the chance for injury to guards, chaplains and wardens, but best of all, would satisfy the needs of both the blood-thirsty forces who favor capital punishment and the condemned, who want to let everyone know it's not as easy as it seems. Moreover, those who worry about the executee "getting off easier" than his or her victim(s) could plainly see that there is actually considerable suffering involved. This should help satisfy the need for vengeance and revenge, bringing "closure" to many. Naturally, the whole process could be televised, perhaps as a pay-per-view event, and the cost of the condemned's incarceration, appeals and execution would be deducted from the gross proceeds and returned to the state.

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 12:15:41 PM EST
    wise words, John. On the other hand, maybe we could save a few bucks and just keep them in the jails we've already built :) It's still hard to understand why imposing a life sentence isn't sufficient. Considering they're going to die whether we gas them or not, why allow ourselves to put that much more money into such a futile effort? No one's coming back, no one will honestly feel "safer," and the families still live without their love one. So it goes...

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 01:33:22 PM EST
    Webmacher: I was waiting for the Bush angle to be brought into this. It didn't take long. We just need a corporate or fast food angle and the day will be complete.

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 02:27:59 PM EST
    It was a joke, Wile. Whassa matter, all the logic and reason above got your head in a tizzy? The death penalty is for politicians. Pure and Simple. Not even for the victims.

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 02:36:47 PM EST
    No state murder/so called political execution is fun, I have a good feeling he was happy to die, the pain must have been something out of hell. And yes the drugs paralyzes the mind and life systems so you can't yell-out.

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 03:03:37 PM EST
    Well, other involved in the murder probably *should* get the death penalty too. But that is not an argument of not executing this murderer. We should be happy that we got at least one of them. And money also should not be an argument against capital punishment. If it is too expensive, we should reduce the costs (for example, coddler the prisoners less or limit the appealing process), not do away with the death penalty.

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 04:22:34 PM EST
    One protester said that california was not Texas. She is right. We convict killers, sentence them to death but we don't execute them. We may not have another execution for ANOTHER three years.

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 04:24:08 PM EST
    Well, Arnie got his first one. 153 to go to catch up to Bush.

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#12)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 05:04:58 PM EST
    [Make-believe]mental illness is no excuse for clemency. The criminal lost his rights upon conviction. He got what society is better off for.

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 05:13:23 PM EST
    The left has many important fights to fight; diluting one's credibility 'defending' a known repeat murderer does not win new recruits or elevate, in the minds of others, an ideology's station. Drop this one! Jay's right!

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#14)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 06:45:14 PM EST
    If his death/murder can result in a continued dialogue over the efficacy (or lack thereof) of capital punishment, then so be it. Do not confuse capital punishment with the administration of justice. The act itself is an admission that justice cannot be administered.

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#15)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 07:18:12 PM EST
    But for the fact the state killed the guy this would be funny. Beardslee sues saying you are going to botch this execution and I am not going to be able to say anything about it. They botch the execution, and true to his claims, he is physically incapable of saying anything. Botch appears to be due to failure to perform an adequate pre-execution physical, bad dosage levels, and, of course bad protocols. Gee, can't wait to see what happens next,this is why the death chambers are shut down in three other states. You would think in California they would have gotten the hint. - k

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#16)
    by pigwiggle on Thu Jan 20, 2005 at 07:41:08 PM EST
    Lavocat- Out of respect for TL, I wont debate how just capital punishment is. I will say that your version of justice isnít universal, and there are many that would consider killing the killer of their loved ones a small measure of justice.

    Re: First Hand Account of Beardslee Execution (none / 0) (#17)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Jan 21, 2005 at 07:19:54 PM EST
    Pigwiggle: I don't argue the point. As I have posted, I've been fervently on BOTH sides of the issue and I think I understand both sides' arguments well. The only problem I have is that when emotion is taken out of the equation, the injustice becomes apparent. In questions of life and death, especially in a court of law, there is simply no place for emotion. And I think the nation should continue to have a healthy and comprehensive dialogue on this topic, along with abortion. Talk is good.