January 27, 2012

"This stuff stings, man."

Lethal injection. Last words.

31 comments:

Jay Fellows said...

I still think the best comment was by Gary Gilmore just before his Utah execution (by firing squad!): "Let's do it..."

SteveR said...

Like they say in the military, if you feel pain, it means you're still alive. So he had that going for him.

sydney said...

Does anyone else feel uneasy about the use of DNA in this manner? They took a sample from him and then matched it up with old cases. If the story is correct, that's the only evidence they had against him. I worry about the incidence of false-positives in that kind of testing. Maybe he really wasn't guilty.

Triangle Man said...

There was as study a few years ago that showed that something like 40% of people executed by lethal injection had drug concentrations low enough that they were "consistent with awareness".

Jaske said...

...wrapped his hands around her neck when she struggled, drove off in her car and threw her body in the trash can when he realized she was not breathing.

No pity.
WV: ratessec - last word of a rat

Curious George said...

Adios mofo

cubanbob said...

No one guarantees a solder an instant and painless death. While decency requires that no unnecessary pain be inflicted, my heart is breaking for this guy.

Jay said...

May 1994: John Wayne Gacy: ‘Kiss my ass! You’ll never find the rest’


Creepy.

EDH said...

Hernandez's victim was a 38-year-old Frito-Lay worker who was stocking snacks at a grocery store when she was attacked in 1994.

Did they check the DNA of the Frito Bandito? (btw: Mel Blanc)

Ay, yi, yi, yi!
I am dee Frito Bandito.
I like Frito's Corn Chips.
I love them, I do.
I want Frito's corn chips.
I'll take them, from you.

Ay, yi, yi, yi,
oh, I am the Frito Bandito.
Give me Frito Corn chips and I'll be your friend.
The Frito Bandito you must not offend.


I'm surprised Hernandez's lawyers didn't invoke the "Latino-advertising-stereotype-outrage" defense.

edutcher said...

As Dean Martin once opined, "We've had civilized killin' in Texas for years".

Potassium, intravenously. And, yes, it does sting.

I has some administered that way after I nearly died about 10 years ago.

What he'll miss is they way the artery where it was given will feel like a sewer pipe for the next few months or so.

TWM said...

Bullet to the back of the head is the way to go. I mean if you are gonna execute someone don't be a fricken pussy about it.

I ♥ Willard said...

Willard has never killed anyone.

MadisonMan said...

Does anyone else feel uneasy about the use of DNA in this manner? They took a sample from him and then matched it up with old cases. If the story is correct, that's the only evidence they had against him.

Are you suggesting there was no trial and no other evidence? I don't believe that.

Crimso said...

"Are you suggesting there was no trial and no other evidence?"

I suspect you're correct, that there was more to it than that. I know of a case where someone was murdered in Seattle (someone I happened to know), and the case was unsolved for 10 years. Then, the detective in charge of the case did his yearly search for the DNA profile from a saliva sample on the victim's body. Bingo! During the previous year, the perp (not believed to be Wiccan) had a sample of DNA taken in Florida and deposited in the database. Absolutely no connection between him and the victim. All those years they had an eyewitness (and this had not been disclosed by the police) who reported seeing a suspicious-looking (?) man in the area where her body was found. The witness identifed him. And, he had been living in that area at the time. He pled guilty.

sydney said...

Madison Man,

This is all the article says about his conviction: The murder went unsolved for eight years until Hernandez, as a requirement for parole from a Michigan prison, submitted a DNA sample that went into a national database and linked him to her death.

I'm not suggesting he didn't have a trial, but it sounds like the DNA was the evidence. It's not such a stretch to believe a prosecutor can convince a jury of guilt by DNA evidence alone. Popular belief is that science is infallible. It isn't. Especially the science of laboratory testing.

My question is, what is the false positive rate of this kind of random DNA testing? I know when I do tests on my patients that involves DNA, there is a certain false positive and false negative rate. Generally, the more random the population tested, the higher the false positive rate. That's why we can't screen everyone for every condition. Surely, this is an important aspect for the law if they are going to use these tests to condemn people to death.

sleepless nights said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crimso said...

For DNA profiling, assuming samples weren't cross-contaminated (a big assumption where PCR is concerned), if your profile matches then it is extremely (not quite 100%) likely that the DNA in question was yours. Pure "false positives" (i.e., not a mixup of samples, contamination, etc.) should be (practically-speaking) non-existent. But if you do it enough times, then it will happen.

Also, there is the question of whether someone closely-related would have a profile similar enough to constitute a "false positive." I am not an expert on DNA analysis, but I would think that the likelihood so often cited of the match being in error is somewhat greater the more closely-related two people are. In that case, they could compare more than the standard number of "markers" until they reach a distinction between the two relatives in question.

Cedarford said...

This is all the article says about his conviction: The murder went unsolved for eight years until Hernandez, as a requirement for parole from a Michigan prison, submitted a DNA sample that went into a national database and linked him to her death.

Sydney - "I'm not suggesting he didn't have a trial, but it sounds like the DNA was the evidence."


No, it is both forensic evidence and a marker. A marker in that this man in jail in Michigan was linked to a crime in a finite time-space location down in Texas. So investigators check. Yep, he WAS in this one Texas town and had no aliby for a particular date and time. Then they dig further.."Yeah," an acquaintance says, "He said he robbed a place and hurt someone"..Another says he picked him up after he ditched the woman's car.

Kind of like the kiddie-perv caught on video grabbing and walking away with the kid outside a Florida mall. Not enough to convict. The body, the trophies he collected after police searched and the confession they obtained, coupled with the jury seeing him nab the kid on video WERE ENOUGH!

I'm quite happy with DNA, other advanced forensics and crime caught on videotape helping to ruin defense lawyers arguments casting "reasonable doubt".

As for lethal injection, it seems overly complex, involves skilled medically trained people...and is only to make the death seem "less violent" and leave a good-looking corpse for the murderer's family.

Better a instant death from a bullet or animal humane slaughter device (piston rod). No skilled killers or doctors needed. Then cremate the corpse and send the box of ashes to the family the next day UPS, if they want them .
If their stinking religion bars cremation, move to another country where murderers get the full open coffin treatment.

Michael said...

It did not sting as much or as long as the tattoo needle with which he had great familiarity.

KJE said...

If I were acting as defense counsel, and I had the opportunity, I would have my own DNA test conducted. That would cut down on some of the issues that Sydney and others raised. If the sample wasn't available that certainly raises issues. If the test returned inconsistent, then we are on the road to reasonable doubt. I do acknowledge in thsi argument that DNA testing in criminal cases has evolved over the last 20+ years.

traditionalguy said...

That's what the anesthesiologist always says about the shot, and then you wake up 6 hours later.

They must leave out the wake up ingredient.

Patrick said...

"It's never too late,' she [the victim's mother] said. 'We're just praying for him. The kind of God I believe in can forgive.

I hope I am never called upon to show such grace. I am pretty sure I'd fail.

Alex said...

I hope her burns in hell for all eternity with no respite and no mercy.

Alex said...

Z^^^
he, not her

Derick S said...

After his DNA matched, Mr. Hernandez confessed to the killing to a detective from Texas who interviewed him in prison in Michigan. He later repudiated his confession, and claimed that he had been having an ongoing affair with the victim at the time of her murder. (He was then 19, the victim was 38.)

If we are to have executions in this country, I would much prefer they were done by shooting than by lethal injection, which strikes me as a cruel and dishonest method.

Amartel said...

Feel the burn.

phx said...

"It's never too late,' she [the victim's mother] said. 'We're just praying for him. The kind of God I believe in can forgive.

I hope I am never called upon to show such grace. I am pretty sure I'd fail.


You might be surprised someday to find how much mercy you can find in yourself.

Michael McNeil said...

I'm quite happy with DNA, other advanced forensics and crime caught on videotape helping to ruin defense lawyers arguments casting “reasonable doubt.”

I hate to spoil your happiness in this regard, but DNA has also been a boon to “defense lawyers arguments casting ‘reasonable doubt’.” Many, many people have been cleared via DNA evidence from convictions for rapes, etc., that had left them locked up in prison, sometimes for decades. I have no doubt, too, that lots of prosecutors' cases prior to what would otherwise be a conviction, are now regularly being demolished by such evidence, thus vindicating the suspects' lawyers' assertion of reasonable doubt.

Beldar said...

@ sydney: Let me try to address your uneasiness in a broader fashion that goes beyond this particular execution.

In the United States, no one is ever executed without having had the opportunity for a full trial, will full protections of the defendant's constitutional rights, including rights to a lawyer, and to funds necessary to mount an effective defense, at state expense if necessary. The prosecution must prove each and every element of the capital crime beyond a reasonable doubt, and then further prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there are specific statutorily-defined aggravating circumstances (e.g., murder of a child, murder of a police officer) that justify this most severe of possible penalties.

In Texas, and I think every other state that has the death penalty, there is a mandatory appeal of the conviction and sentence even if the defendant doesn't ask for one. There's an opportunity for the SCOTUS to weigh in and review even state supreme court decisions. But after that, the whole shooting match then moves to the federal district courts, typically the federal courts of appeal, and again, potentially, the SCOTUS. It's not uncommon for the same conviction to go up and down, back and forth, for several years.

At every step of this process, if it's proved that the trial was unfair in some material way according to the rules of law and evidence, the conviction will be reversed and the prosecution will have to start over. But so long as the rules were followed in the trial, then on the most important factual determinations -- such things as who's lying -- the jury's decision (or trial judge's, if a jury has been waived) is given due respect, since those determinations are best made based on personal observation of witnesses and evidence.

Inevitably, before an execution goes forward, the entire record from the trial will have been reviewed multiple times by dozens of judges and many dozens of lawyers. At the top of the pyramid are the justices of the SCOTUS; among them are several who categorically oppose the death penalty and look very hard in every such case for some way to overturn them. All that's needed to grant "certiorari" and force the SCOTUS to accept any given case is four votes, so the liberal bloc can do that even if they can't quite yet persuade Kennedy to go along.

Long story short: This doesn't happen casually, ever. The kinds of things you seem to worry about are indeed considered, and the system is constructed to ensure exactly that, with multiple checks and balances and levels of redundancy.

Capital cases do have all sorts of extra and special rules that make them harder to bring, harder to win, and harder to uphold on appeal.

No one claims it is perfect, and the capital punishment system has many flaws and problems in actual practice. Yes, there will always be a risk that a grave injustice might be done in any given case. But that is not only true of capital cases but all criminal cases, so the question is, have we struck an appropriate balance in the system?

If the answer to that is "Yes," and if you accept the justice of capital punishment in theory, then you shouldn't lose sleep over every one, or very many at all, of these executions.

Beldar said...

Atop of my list of most misleadingly reported last words are Cameron Todd Willingham's actual and complete last words (asterisks mine):

"Yeah. The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man-convicted of a crime I did not commit. I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do. From God's dust I came and to dust I will return — so the earth shall become my throne. I gotta go, road dog. I love you Gabby. I hope you rot in hell, bitch; I hope you f*cking rot in hell, bitch. You bitch; I hope you f*cking rot, c*nt. That is it."

sydney said...

Guess all that hate is why he was left an earthly throne.