William Kemmler, having been convicted of drunkenly killing his girlfriend with an ax, was sentenced on May 13, 1889, to become the first person to die in the electric chair. After attempts to thwart the execution on the basis of it being “cruel and unusual punishment” were defeated, Kemmler was executed under what the New York Times called “revolting circumstances.”
For those of you who have wondered how the more modern electric chair works and how it is used to execute prisoners. While watching this video bear in mind that though lethal injection has been the default method of execution in Virginia since 1994, inmates may still opt for execution via the electric chair — and some do.
It’s not pretty, that’s for sure. In 1999 convicted murderer Allen Lee Davis became the first and last inmate to be executed in Florida’s brand new electric chair, intended to replace the notoriously malfunctioning “Old Sparky.” Warning: This post contains disturbing photographs.
The website Sound Portraits gives listeners a chance to hear the raw audio recorded in the hours leading up to an inmate’s execution, during the execution itself and in its aftermath.
Tonight, a convicted killer is set to become the first person executed in the U.S. this year. Robert Gleason Jr., 42, has actively prevented any attempts to stop his execution. While serving time in prison for murder, he strangled two inmates and threatened to continue killing unless given the death penalty.