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Photos: Ten executions gone horribly wrong on World Day to End the Death Penalty

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Big photos below.
At 10 a.m. in the State Capitol, capital punishment opponents, including Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett, will commemorate World Day to End the Death Penalty. Among other things, the event is scheduled to feature "reflections of the death
penalty's biased and unjust application." But what about when executions go wrong? That's the subject of the following post, first published in April: It highlights nine startling stories assembled by CU Professor Michael Radelet, plus one shocker from Westword's archives. Get the details below.

Note that the text for the following items is culled from Radelet's item "Examples of Post-Furman Botched Executions," shared by the Death Penalty Information Center, except the final item, derived from Alan Prendergast's 2012 post "Eddie Ives's botched execution and replacing the noose with the gas chamber."

Frank J. Coppola

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Frank James Coppola.
August 10, 1982. Virginia. Frank J. Coppola. Electrocution. Although no media representatives witnessed the execution and no details were ever released by the Virginia Department of Corrections, an attorney who was present later stated that it took two 55-second jolts of electricity to kill Coppola. The second jolt produced the odor and sizzling sound of burning flesh, and Coppola's head and leg caught on fire. Smoke filled the death chamber from floor to ceiling with a smoky haze.

Jimmy Lee Gray

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Jimmy Lee Gray.
Sept. 2, 1983. Mississippi. Jimmy Lee Gray. Asphyxiation. Officials had to clear the room eight minutes after the gas was released when Gray's desperate gasps for air repulsed witnesses. His attorney, Dennis Balske of Montgomery, Alabama, criticized state officials for clearing the room when the inmate was still alive. Said noted death penalty defense attorney David Bruck, "Jimmy Lee Gray died banging his head against a steel pole in the gas chamber while the reporters counted his moans (eleven, according to the Associated Press)." Later it was revealed that the executioner, Barry Bruce, was drunk.

Continue for more examples of executions gone horribly wrong.


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42 comments
Kandis Bigham
Kandis Bigham

how so? that these guys killed ppl? sorry no that is not inaccurate feel free to look them up they are all murders.

Frank Wojcinski
Frank Wojcinski

agree Ken. they choose to take someone else life. bullet cheaper

Glenn Keil
Glenn Keil

I can probably purchase a bullet for a couple of bucks.

Damien Roberts
Damien Roberts

The Green Mile tends to make me question the death penalty. Plus I find it very hypocritical that we kill people as punishment for killing.

Candie Bernard
Candie Bernard

We pay more to have them executed. This is an important thing to remember. People often use the same argument about not wanting to pay for them to live in prison. The cost of putting someone to death typically costs the taxpayers much, much more.

Candie Bernard
Candie Bernard

While you are clearly very passionate about this topic, some of the information you present is inaccurate.

Candie Bernard
Candie Bernard

It actually costs significantly more to execute them to house them.

Candie Bernard
Candie Bernard

America is not a pro-life or Christian nation. We are a nation filled with people who have a wide variety of beliefs regarding abortion, religiosity and many other topics.

Candie Bernard
Candie Bernard

I've got a lot of thoughts about the death penalty. This was an interesting read.

anitavorndranpaul
anitavorndranpaul

and we should feel sorry for them, why?  Because they murdered, maimed and raped others?  

heavennorthrop
heavennorthrop

Why didn't you post their crimes, it is hard to feel bad for someone who committed grave atrocities. Personally I feel in some cases the death penalty is too easy. 

Kandis Bigham
Kandis Bigham

i would like to see how all these bleeding hearts would feel if it was their kids who was kid napped, molested, tortured, raped and/ or then killed by some sick fuck... then how would they feel knowing their precious, sweet, little child had endured such horrors? would you then say keep them alive? if so then your not compassionate your ignorant. these criminals don't just hurt ppl on the outside, these are the same ppl not only responsible for horrendous crimes outside of prison but they are the same ppl involved in prison riots and prison rape cases etc. they are just as dangerous to the other non violent inmates as they are to the ppl outside of the prison. the idea of keeping them alive is just putting more ppl at risk of their sociopathic or psychopathic tenancies. yeah great idea lets keep this guy around so we have to pay for him to hurt more ppl while in jail.. now he has his cake and can eat it too. he has a room and food (which is not something everyone in the world gets period) then on top of that we will let them hang out with like minded ppl in jail and get away with further crimes or harm against others. sorry bleeding hearts but there is no justification for allowing more ppl to get hurt or killed because we can't stomach taking a few bloodthirsty killers out of commission on the off chance that something goes wrong. out of all the probably thousands of ppl who get put to death every year in jail for their crimes you want me to cry a river because a very small few were botched? i don't think so maybe these ppl should have thought of their own horrific demise before killing, raping etc others. do unto others as you would have done to you, to be given a death sentence you have to done something truly horrific so with that said they are getting off pretty easy. they only have to deal with at most even in this article maybe an hour of suffering when what they put their victims through was much, much more suffering they they will receive even in the most botched cases. also i think its a bit of a ruse to not include in this article what they were put on death row for. this was omitted for the only reason it could be omitted it would damage the point of the article to save these ppl if we knew what truly horrifying stuff they did, it would diminish our compassion and therefore was omitted. i know a trick when i see one and at this point these bleeding heart liberals on this page are just as bad as the republicans... using misinformation or in this case missing information to get the public to go along with what ever the agenda is. its a disgusting practice and the writer of this article should be ashamed of themselves.

Bobby J. Richards
Bobby J. Richards

The one bit of info I didn't see was the crimes they commited that landed them in the execution room. A lot easier to see them as victims before you know they raped, tortured and killed their innocent victims. You see an unfit way to die, I see karma in its most raw form... SUPPORTER OF EXECUTIONS RIGHT HERE!

Michael Sabin
Michael Sabin

Nope, they earned the right to Die...As in China, Charge the family for the Bullet!!!

Emm Deeze
Emm Deeze

There was a time when people were beheaded, hanged, put in front of a firing squad, etc. Compared to the way the world was before, I'd say this is the most humane we've ever been. And it's not the government deciding who lives and dies, it's a jury of your peers. I say death to all rapists and child molesters!

Merréll Barry O'Brian
Merréll Barry O'Brian

I have no problem with the death penalty at all except that the sentence doesn't happen fast enough to be relevant. One appeal and then "BAM!" take the worthless scumbag out the door and execute them on the spot. I hear all this whining and moaning about how awful it is. Let's look at what the bastard did. Then, let's take a survey to see how people feel. Did you know we sodomized, tortured and killed three kids? Did you hear about how he forced the husband to watch? No, if people are intent on acting like animals, they should be put down like animals. It is correct and proper and yet ANOTHER thing the ultra left is insane about.

Erica Rosenthal
Erica Rosenthal

It shouldn't have to be humane. What all of those prisoners did was probably way worse. Kill them. I don't really care if it's painful.

Amber Rae Schultes
Amber Rae Schultes

What is shocking to me, is that these poor lawyers have to go watch their clients be executed. It's in almost every story, the Laywer there pleading for the torture to end... Like woa, I have to remember now when looking at a lawyer, they might have watched someone die

James Gold
James Gold

It's always funny to me that the people who support the death penalty seem to think that to not kill these people is the same as excusing their crimes. Murderers and rapists, etc., are the very dregs of society. No one is saying their crimes aren't horrific or are somehow excusable. It's vastly ironic that death penalty proponents have no problem stooping to the subhuman, barbaric levels of the very criminals they want killed, by supporting murder themselves. Murder is murder, regardless of anyone's criminal status. How you cannot see that killing another person to demonstrate that killing people is a monstrous act, is the peak of hypocritical thought and action, is infinitely amazing.

Zack Lewis
Zack Lewis

Stephen McCoy murdered a Houston teen-ager killed as a sign of loyalty, Pedro Medina had gagged, stabbed multiple times, and left Dorothy James to die. Raymond Landry shot a restaurant owner in the head in front of his family after he robbed the restaurant for 2,300$..... I say the bloodthirsty barbarians where the ones strapped to the chairs.

Glenn Keil
Glenn Keil

Well Mr. Gold. You can go ahead and pay my share of taxes to fund the prison systems then because frankly, I am sick of my tax dollars keeping them alive.

Bree Miller
Bree Miller

um if they're up for execution, clearly whatever they did was not "safe and humane" so I don't see the argument here...

Natasha Schwertley
Natasha Schwertley

Amazing that people have so much confidence in our govt doing the right thing that they want them in charge of life or death choices. No civilized society should take the life of another. So much for the claims that America is a pro-life or Christian nation. This alone completely invalidated those claims (not that it would be true anyway)

Donna Musselman
Donna Musselman

I hope it DID hurt, as I'm sure their victims suffered even more.

James Gold
James Gold

It's vile and archaic and the proponents for it are mindless, bloodthirsty barbarians.

Amanda Pacenza
Amanda Pacenza

If a person is deemed unsafe to the point that our judicial system had decided they will never leave prison, I would rather have them executed and use our tax money for positive things like education

Glenn Keil
Glenn Keil

Nope! The death penalty needs to be used more often and for more crimes.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

@Damien Roberts 

A ficitonal movie is not a good basis for making such a judgement.

If you don't know the moral differnces between murder and execution, guilty murderer and innocent victim, crime and punishment there is no explaining it to you.

Do you equate kidnapping and incarceration?

heavennorthrop
heavennorthrop

@Kandis Bigham I am a "bleeding" heart liberal but that does not excuse someone when they commit a crime. I am all for the death penalty in fact the death penalty is too easy in way too many cases. 

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Kandis Bigham A very passionate post, Kandis. Thanks for sharing your thoughts at such length.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Bobby J. Richards Thanks for weighing in, Bobby. We're going to make your post an upcoming Comment of the Day. Much appreciated.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Mike Del Cuore Interesting point of view, Mike. Thanks.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Merréll Barry O'Brian Some strong points, Merrell. Appreciate you weighing in.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Amber Rae A unique viewpoint. Thanks for posting, Amber.

dudleysharp
dudleysharp

@James Gold 

I don't think most of us think that way.

We beleive that the death penalty shold be an option for the judge or jury, in some truly horric cases and that the sanction should be awarded when justified, just as with all other sanctions.

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