Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Homicidal Hitchhiker Didn't Go Quietly--He Prayed

The Homicidal Hitchhiker didn't go quietly according to the Columbus Dispatch.  This is Alan Johnson's report:

"[Michael Beuke] held death at bay for [seventeen minutes.]

From 10:27 to 10:44 a.m., Beuke recited the rosary of the Roman Catholic Church while strapped to the lethal-injection table at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville. Warden Donald R. Morgan held a microphone inches from Beuke's face so witnesses in a nearby room could hear his last words. Family members of two of his victims watched in silent frustration as Beuke, crying and clutching rosary beads in one hand, went through the five Glorious Mysteries, the Apostles' Creed, several accompanying prayers and  'Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee...' repeated 53 times.  A Catholic priest sat nearby, silently saying the devotion along with Beuke. After Beuke finished, Morgan gave a signal and the killing chemical, thiopental sodium, began flowing into Beuke's veins.

At 10:53 a.m., nine minutes after his final 'Amen,' Beuke was dead.

Beuke's 'last words' were by far the longest uttered by any of the 38 killers executed since Ohio resumed capital punishment in February 1999. The previous longest final statement was nine minutes, by Vernon Smith on Jan. 7.  Prison officials said they had no inclination to stop Beuke. However, Greg Trout, staff attorney for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said he will check state law for guidance on how to deal with such situations in the future. Prison execution procedures say, 'There will be no restriction on the content of the condemned prisoner's statement and no unreasonable restriction on the duration of the prisoner's last statement.'

Beuke, 48, of Hamilton County, was executed for the June 1, 1983, abduction and slaying of Robert Craig, 27, who had picked up the hitchhiker while on I-275.  Susan Craig, the victim's widow, watched the execution from an observation room, separated by glass but less than 20 feet from Beuke.

'It was long,' she said later. 'But this was his last couple of minutes on Earth.'

Dawn Wahoff, daughter of Wayne Wahoff, who was paralyzed after Beuke shot him in the face and back, also was a witness, along with her brother, Paul.

'You're stalling,' Dawn Wahoff said she thought when Beuke launched into his prayers.

In addition to Craig and Wahoff, Beuke shot and wounded Bruce Graham, 34, of West Harrison, Ind., after Graham picked him up hitchhiking in June 1983.  Beuke's attorney, Dale Baich, a federal public defender from Arizona, filed numerous unsuccessful appeals in the past week.

'The man who was executed today was not the same person who committed those crimes 27 years ago,' Baich said. 'His time in prison was a story of remorse and redemption.'

Officials said Beuke was emotional from the time he arrived Wednesday morning. Prison logs show he cried frequently, took communion, participated in a cell-front Mass and played a keyboard he was allowed to bring with him from the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown.He was the fifth Ohioan executed in five months this year and the 38th since capital punishment resumed in 1999."
"He's stalling." 

Imagine having that thought.  Is it that sort of lack of empathy that governed Michael Beuke's thinking at some point in his life pathetic life?

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