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Old Sparky Execution in Virginia

HEDRICK EXECUTION

Brandon Wayne Hedrick, age 27, was executed in Virginia this week. Afraid that the combo of lethal injection drugs could cause unbearable pain while paralyzing his body and rendering him incapable of communicating it, he chose the electric chair -- old sparky, as it came to be known. Via Sentencing Law and Policy, here's how one news article described his death.

He was ushered into the electric chair and a half-dozen execution team members secured him stiffly upright with leather and nylon straps on his limbs and torso before asking if he had any last words. A metal device holding a sea sponge soaked in brine was then attached to his right calf, and a wide strap with a hole for his nose but covering his eyes and mouth secured his head to the chair. A metal cap holding another brine-soaked sponge was strapped on the top of his head. Power cables were then connected to the head and leg.

A prison official turned a key on the wall activating the system and an execution team member viewing the chair through a one-way window pressed the execution button.

It was about 9:02 p.m. when Hedrick's body jumped up straight, straining against the straps, his fists clenched. A small amount of smoke briefly rose from his leg. His body briefly relaxed between the two 90-second cycles of electricity. Each cycle starts with about 1,800 volts at 7.5 amps for 30 seconds and then 60 seconds of about 240 volts at 1.5 amps.

His body jumped and leg smoked at the start of the second cycle. After five minutes, a physician entered, put a stethoscope to Hedrick's chest and pronounced him dead.

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    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 12:15:03 AM EST
    Whether via injection or volts ...capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal's deed, however calculated can be compared, as Camu pointed out. His summary statement in its entirety: "An execution is not simply death. It is just as different from the privation of life as a concentration camp is from prison. It adds to death a rule, a public premeditation known to the future victim, an organization which is itself a source of moral sufferings more terrible than death. Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal's deed, however calculated can be compared. For there to be an equivalency, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life."

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jack on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 12:15:53 AM EST
    Might as well be reading about Al-Qaeda or Taliban "justice."

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#3)
    by bad Jim on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 02:05:23 AM EST
    Why don't they just give them an overdose of barbiturates, like vets do? I have no use for capital punishment, but as a former owner of various pets, I have a personal, if necessarily vicarious, interest in painless euthanasia. We shouldn't be doing this, but since we are, shouldn't we be able to do this competently? There was a description of an execution by guillotine, in which the subject was entirely encased in a pair of wicker caskets before the blade was dropped, in order to spare the sensibilities of the onlookers. I wouldn't argue that this was worse than Old Sparky.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#4)
    by HK on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 03:41:20 AM EST
    I did a web search for Hedrick's name as I was curious to see how a 27-year-old could have gotten so far down the line in a capital case since many spend his longer than his entire life on death row. Here is an excerpt from a piece I found, which first mentions that although Hedrick confessed to pulling the trigger, it was not he who planned or instigated the attack:
    Brandon, the slow one whose IQ score indicates that he falls within the range considered mildly mentally retarded who consistently attached himself to someone with a stronger personality, received a death sentence. Since Hedrick's trial, the execution of persons with mental retardation has been prohibited. Virginia law requires capital defendants to receive a comprehensive evaluation about mental retardation but does not allow Virginia courts to act in cases like Hedrick's because he is too far along in the process: a legal Catch-22.
    Even more worryingly, the piece goes on to say:
    As in many death penalty cases, the competency of Hedrick's court appointed trial counsel is in question. One of his attorneys is on record as stating, "(we) did not meet to seriously discuss trial strategy until one business day before trial." Neither of Hedrick's two defense lawyers had ever previously completed a capital murder trial. The lead attorney had never before selected a capital death-qualified jury. Witnesses were not interviewed by counsel until they were on the stand.
    The full article is here. The details of this execution and the lead up to it make me feel sick. This is not my idea of justice.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 04:10:23 AM EST
    TWO THOUSAND YEARS OF CIVLISATION. Abduction and Murder. Crider was abducted about 1 a.m. by Hedrick and a friend, Trevor Jones. The two were high on bourbon, marijuana and crack cocaine. Crider was abducted from Jones' apartment, robbed, put in Jones' truck and driven around before she was raped and then shot to death at short range with a shotgun near the James River in Appomattox County. Electric Chair. ...the prisoner's eyeballs sometimes pop out and rest on [his] cheeks. The prisoner often defecates, urinates, and vomits blood and drool. The body turns bright red as its temperature rises, and the prisoner's flesh swells and his skin stretches to the point of breaking. Sometimes the prisoner catches fire....Witnesses hear a loud and sustained sound like bacon frying, and the sickly sweet smell of burning flesh permeates the chamber. Lethal Injection. This lack of medical participation can be problematic because often injections are performed by inexperienced technicians or orderlies. If a member of the execution team injects the drugs into a muscle instead of a vein, or if the needle becomes clogged, extreme pain can result. Many prisoners have damaged veins resulting from intravenous drug use and it is sometimes difficult to find a usable vein, resulting in long delays while the inmate remains strapped to the gurney. Gas Chamber. The prisoner is instructed to breathe deeply to speed up the process. Most prisoners, however, try to hold their breath, and some struggle. The inmate does not lose consciousness immediately. According to former San Quenton, California, Penitentiary warden, Clifton Duffy, "At first there is evidence of extreme horror, pain, and strangling. The eyes pop. The skin turns purple and the victim begins to drool." Hanging. However, instantaneous death rarely occurs. (Weisberg, 1991) If the inmate has strong neck muscles, is very light, if the 'drop' is too short, or the noose has been wrongly positioned, the fracture-dislocation is not rapid and death results from slow asphyxiation. If this occurs the face becomes engorged, the tongue protrudes, the eyes pop, the body defecates, and violent movements of the limbs occur. Firing Squad. The prisoner dies as a result of blood loss caused by rupture of the heart or a large blood vessel, or tearing of the lungs. The person shot loses consciousness when shock causes a fall in the supply of blood to the brain. If the shooters miss the heart, by accident or intention, the prisoner bleeds to death slowly. Make of it what you will. To the pro capital punishement lobby I say this. Should ever you wish to stand among the civilised nations of this world you must first consign these practises to where they belong; the dustbin of history. RIP Lisa Crider.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 05:38:49 AM EST
    I only believe in capital punishment for the 30some percent that still support Bush ;)

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#7)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 07:37:22 AM EST
    oscar - All of the execution methods sound terrible. Kind of like being kidnapped, driven around in a pickup, raped and then killed wih a shotgun.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#9)
    by krazycory on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 08:33:23 AM EST
    he got what he deserved!! there is a little girl missing here in utah and IF they find her and catch whoever took her i think they should get a dull knife and start at thier toes and start skinning them!!!!!! I've been to prison and its too good a place for some people

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 09:30:44 AM EST
    Jim. I was about to pen you some reply, but to what end. Only this, being against the death penalty doesn't make one pro villain. And regarding choice, I wouldn't be averse to offering death or lwop. But then the choice of death over life might be construed as a too merciful and too easy an option. Given the choice I know what I would choose, it wouldn't be three square a day.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#11)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 09:36:19 AM EST
    Krazycory, You need some occupational therapy.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#12)
    by HK on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 10:45:59 AM EST
    Ah, nothing brings out the trolls like a capital punishment post. No one who posts here thinks that any murder victim deserved their fate. This particular victim, Lisa Crider, must have been terrified in the moments leading to her death. She was subjected to degrading, painful and traumatic assault before being shot in the face. It is horrifying that one human being would do that to another. And like most murder victims, Lisa Crider left behind relatives that will miss her forever. They will sadly have to learn to live with a loss that will never go away. But on the premise that killing another human without their consent is wrong, I don't see how capital punishment can ever be justified. It is not self-defence, no research has ever conclusively proven that it acts as a deterrent, it leaves further grieving relatives and is the very act that it claims to punish. Jim, your rationale that a terrible act justifies a terrible act completely obliterates any moral high ground you may claim to have. "But he did it first!" is an argument best left to kintergarten kids. Narius, if Hedrick had given Lisa Crider a choice over how she was to die, would that have lessened his offence? Of course not. Which leaves me wondering (not for the first time) what exactly your point is.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#14)
    by HK on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 02:51:24 PM EST
    My point is our treatment of this animal is a lot more lenient than how he treated his victim.
    Giving someone a choice over how they are about to prematurely die against their will is not something I would class as 'lenient'. And justice should have a little more substance than 'a few moments of satisfaction'. Do not forget that the satisfaction you speak of is far from universal as well.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#16)
    by Al on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 03:24:30 PM EST
    There are a few regular posters in these comment columns (PPJ, Slado, and others) who systematically promote lethal violence as a legitimates response to all kinds of social ills, real or perceived. In spite of overwhelming evidence that violence only begets more violence, and nobody's life is ever mended by revenge, they continue to promote their hateful, callous violent fantasies. So they must believe in violence for its own sake. Not because it achieves anything -- because it doesn't -- but because thinking about it brings them satisfaction. Of course, these are just fantasies. Take a statement like this:
    there is a little girl missing here in utah and IF they find her and catch whoever took her i think they should get a dull knife and start at thier toes and start skinning them!!!!!!
    This is imaginary violence, and imaginary heroism by the writer (he's the hero who would do this if society would let him). It's like phone sex, except it's on the internet, and seriously sick. PPJ gives a more subtle example:
    oscar - All of the execution methods sound terrible. Kind of like being kidnapped, driven around in a pickup, raped and then killed wih a shotgun.
    How clever -- he's saying that torturing someone to death is only fair retribution for the crime he committed. In fact, PPJ is even more sinister than the author of the first example, because PPJ's torture method of choice is actually real. PPJ enjoys actually torturing someone to death by proxy -- the event really happens. There is no arguing with PPJ. But we should be aware that all these grisly methods of execution are designed for the likes of him. And we must fight to take away from the such people the opportunity to torture someone to death by proxy.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#18)
    by Dadler on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 03:45:37 PM EST
    Narius, Your comparison falls rhetorically flat. Here careless violence is PRECISELY what we're talking about. WWII was about invading nations with armies. There is no threat even marginally approaching that in the issue of the death penalty. It's ALL about careless, uncessecary violence.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#19)
    by jondee on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 03:51:46 PM EST
    Paraphrasing Clarence Darrow: Physical deformity calls forth our pity, but the infinitly more tragic moral deformity calls forth nothing but hatred and vengence.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#21)
    by Al on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 04:28:48 PM EST
    The question is why do you think there is a need to change this ingrained nature of ours.
    It's called civilization.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 06:50:54 PM EST
    Al - As usual you know not what you write. I have commented numerous times that I am conflicted over capital punishment, and that I am against it unless there is no doubt. So, to further respond to your know nothing comment, note that my point was quite simple. The terrible acts they have committed are much worse than any of the execution methods described. I would further posit, as I have in the past, that since we are executing these people, we should do so by hanging, at high noon in the public square with national TV coverage. It is doubtful, but just maybe their public execution will keep some other victims and killers alive. Now that you have been properly informed of the inaccuracy of your comments I would expect a person of high moral character, as you represent yourself to be, would immediately apologize. That you will not speaks loudly.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#23)
    by jondee on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 07:02:09 PM EST
    ppj - Why stop at hanging; if a horrific public spectacle is what is needed in order to set examples for the public, (the kiddies too I suppose), why not drawing and quartering?

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#24)
    by krazycory on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 07:27:05 PM EST
    ppj i agree with you on the public hanging!!!!!! with one exeption tickets should be sold and ALL of the money should go directly to the victims family. from what i've heard people used to travel days to see a hanging.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#25)
    by jondee on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 07:48:34 PM EST
    And some of 'em were lynchings.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#26)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 08:22:16 PM EST
    The only possible reason any country might entertain implementation of the death penalty would be to (justifiably) punish the type of people who commented to this article. I'm referring to everyone above excepting myself as well as the possible exception of HK and Che's Lounge. This would at least preserve freedom of the internet. When individuals provide comments like the above, I just don't see how the internet can remain as is. Implementation of the death penalty - for just these folks - would at least serve a noble purpose, freedom of expression.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#27)
    by jondee on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 09:40:52 PM EST
    Over - If you're refering to my comment, I was being satirical. Apparently that wasn't obvious enough. Not sure what you mean by the possible exception of HK and Che's Lounge, and likewise I think you do a disservice to Oscar and Al.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#28)
    by jondee on Sat Jul 22, 2006 at 09:42:09 PM EST
    And Dadler.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#29)
    by Al on Sun Jul 23, 2006 at 12:09:49 AM EST
    I am conflicted over capital punishment, and that I am against it unless there is no doubt. (PPJ)
    How do you propose to determine whether there is no doubt?
    I would further posit, as I have in the past, that since we are executing these people, we should do so by hanging, at high noon in the public square with national TV coverage. (PPJ)
    (Posit? Oh, never mind). PPJ, try the following thought experiment. You're not allowed to retreat into your fantasy world as a way of avoiding the issue. (There will be no televised hangings at high noon). In the real world, and given the real limitations of the justice system, where do you stand? Should the death penalty as it exists continue to be administered, or should it be banned? Deduct five points for every time you catch yourself trying to weasel out of the question--again. I know where I stand. Where do you stand?

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#30)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Jul 23, 2006 at 03:05:04 AM EST
    Jond - I gave up on Oscar when he started getting into this "choice" crap, however, you do have a point about Al. PPJ touches upon a critical issue: how we sanitize the process and avoid facing it for what it is: premeditated murder. Just as vegetarians recommend that meat eaters kill, skin, butcher and cook their own game - until we abolish the death penalty - the prosecuting attorney should be required to perform the act himself. Forget about reducing the defendant's pain (the whole point of Talk Left's article). As soon as 12 men and women determine the defendant to be sentenced to death, at that very moment, inside the court room itself, using his bear hands, teeth and small knives, the prosecutor should be required to beat the defendant into a lifeless bloody pulp while the officers of the court hold him down. Perhaps this would stimulate fruitful public discourse re: the true meaning of the death penalty.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#31)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jul 23, 2006 at 08:39:12 AM EST
    Al - Execution is fine with me when there is no doubt. In this case there was none. In McVeigh's case there was none. I hope the above is not to complicated for you. Jondee - D&Q? I think not. There must be some diginity don't you think? overthe..... Ah, apparently only you captured my sarcasm... And no, Al, it will never happen. But the issue is that in 99.9% of the cases, by the time of execution, the world has forgotten the victim(s) and only the killer(s) stand to receive sympathy from a gaggle of wrong headed individuals moaning over the dispatch of someone who deserved it. Excutions can be justified only by the good they do society. One of the base reasons is that by executing killers, the state becomes the family member of the victims family, and thus stops a blood feud.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#32)
    by HK on Sun Jul 23, 2006 at 12:59:02 PM EST
    The blood feud issue you cite is a historical reason for executions that is no longer relevant in a society which provides secure prisons in which dangerous felons can be imprisoned for life. Furthermore, there are many family members of victims who do not agree with capital punishment, one such person being Bud Welch, whose daughter Julie was one of Timothy McVeigh's victims (since you brought McVeigh up). It is a fallacy that the death penalty serves grieving relatives; even those who want it typically gain little comfort when it is carried out and the state has become very adept at keeping old wounds open to ensure sentences are carried out. I would also like to point out that as an opponent of capital punishment I make a point of always looking up the crime and victim of death row inmates I read about. It is through reading these tragic details that my sense of humanity is enhanced; the ever increasing number shows me that the death penalty isn't working. And lastly, Jim, you wrote:
    Excutions can be justified only by the good they do society.
    I'd love to see some conclusive evidence that executions are good for society. Stats, links, research, studies...whenever you're ready.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#33)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jul 23, 2006 at 01:31:38 PM EST
    HK writes:
    in a society which provides secure prisons in which dangerous felons can be imprisoned for life.
    You do understand, don't you, that we have had killers kill their guards, etc. So tell us again about "secure" prisions.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#34)
    by Al on Sun Jul 23, 2006 at 01:42:19 PM EST
    Execution is fine with me when there is no doubt. In this case there was none. In McVeigh's case there was none. (PPJ)
    But you have no criterion to decide when there is no doubt. You are just going by your intuition, which is not enough when it is a matter of taking someone's life. And doubt of what? That the convict really committed the crime? Should all killings automatically carry a death sentence?
    One of the base reasons is that by executing killers, the state becomes the family member of the victims family
    But the whole point of having a justice system is to move beyond simple revenge. You are making a very fundamental mistake if you think that justice is simply the state stepping in to physically punish someone on behalf of the victim's family.
    Executions can be justified only by the good they do society.
    Then they are not justified, because as HK points out, they don't do any good to society. All this is just rationalization on your part, trying to justify a posteriori your intuitive belief that a murderer should be put to death. Is society better off because McVeigh was put to death? I don't think so. I think society would be exactly the same if McVeigh was sitting in a prison cell today.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#35)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Jul 23, 2006 at 01:48:04 PM EST
    Over. Though I feel no need to defend my writings, including the parts you succinctly define as crap, my reply was to Jim. Offered up as philosophy rather than a viable alternative to the woes of the penal system, my "choice" theory is a result of many protracted posts between Jim and myself. My reaction to the way America implements capital punishment is one of no small horror. A reaction of a similar nature comes to fore when regarding the conditions in which inmates are incarcerated under the supermax system. Given the inhumane conditions that exist, by design, at supermax institutions, my talk of "choice" takes on a different meaning. You can read TL's views on the subject and my feelings on the subject here.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#37)
    by krazycory on Sun Jul 23, 2006 at 08:42:55 PM EST
    over-i've spent alot of time with murders rapists and child molesters!! some are decent people and some are not (i've spent 4 1/2 years with them) ALOT OF THEM NEED KILLING

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#36)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Jul 23, 2006 at 10:20:12 PM EST
    deleted

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#38)
    by cpinva on Sun Jul 23, 2006 at 10:30:37 PM EST
    i'm surprised no one commented on the contradiction posed by bush's refusal to sign the stem cell bill, claiming the sanctity of life, and that gov't funds shouldn't be used to support research using embryos which would have been destroyed anyway, but quite willingly provides gov't funds for executions, also murder, albeit state sanctioned? full disclosure time: i am opposed to capital punishment, as it serves no positive societal purpose, with one exception: child molesters and murderers. i'll happily flip the switch on them myself. yes, this probably makes me a hypocrite, but it's a level of hypocrisy that i can live with. krazycory, a true nic if ever there was one. there is no such thing as a "decent" murderer, rapist or child molester, that is an oxymoron.

    Re: Old Sparky Execution in Virginia (none / 0) (#39)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Jul 24, 2006 at 04:20:35 AM EST
    krazycory - I'm certain you're as experienced as you say you are. Reading your most recent comment above, I can see that you're an intelligent, scholarly and compassionate person. You mention murderers, rapists and child molesters. Re murderers, for example, you must know, krazycory, there are roughly five or six basic templates or types that make up approx 80% of all murderers in this country. There is, for example, the spouse or wife killer. As you know, krazycorn, this is the one (sometimes two or three - but usually, one)-time killer who murders his spouse while in the midst of an uncontrolled impulsive rage. Spouse murderers are fascinating. Invariably, these are men who find that their problem usually worsens after the murder. They're often more in love with the woman after she is gone. Hallucinating her voice - throughout the night time hours - is not uncommon. The guilt and self hatred that accompanied the act is often tied to the onset of intractable, debilitating medical ailments that, in many cases, lead to the perpetrator's eventual demise. There are a variety of other types - as you know, Krazycorn - the addictive/serial killer, murderers with dissociative disorders, those with psychoses and of course, the outright psychopath - i.e., the type of person society usually thinks of, when they think or talk about murderers in person. Only problem is, this type of murderer - the psychopath - is relatively rare, like below 5% rare. But they're fascinating nonetheless. I'd like to tell you more about them - perhaps another time. I'd also like to tell you about the fundamental "types" of rapists and child molesters. The child molesters in particular are far more fascinating than the wife killers. Also, with regard to child molesters, there are only a handful of basic templates or types. Once you have an inkling into who these people are - you begin to realize, they deserve our heartfelt compassionate, more so than most. Just not sure if anyone has further interest in hearing this (?) Btw, if you would like a taste of what it means to be a human being - that is, what it means to have a mature, evolved relationship to a hard core felon and to murderers in general. Click on this link http://www.catherineblountfdn.org/ and read "Aba Gayle's" story in the index on the right. Try to ignore some of the namby pamby spiritual stuff. Merely consider this woman's authenticity and what she has accomplished.