Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ohio Man Executed for the Murder of Five Children

31st Execution of 2010

William L. Garner was executed by lethal injection on July 13, 2010. He was convicted in 1992 of killing five children in a fire he started to cover-up a burglary. Gardner is the 1,219th executed in the United States since the reimpostion of the death penalty in the 1970's.

The Cincinnati Enquirer described Garner's execution as follows:

William Garner glanced over at his niece, a soft smile breaking his face as the first of the five syringes of a lethal drug were pumped into his arm at 10:21 a.m. Tuesday in the Death House at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.

Garner, 37, who grew up with the name “Peewee,” was the 382nd person to be executed in Ohio since the state began executions in 1803. The state has an execution scheduled each month through November.

Garner has spent nearly half his life on death row after killing five children in an English Woods townhouse on Jan. 26, 1992, when he set three fires to cover up a burglary. Garner, however, appeared at peace with his condemnation. If he was scared, he showed no sign. He turned his head to the left, staring into the eyes of his niece Martisha Ross for long periods.

While strapped to a wooden gurney, Garner held a dreadlock of hair from a friend in his left hand and read from a hand-written note held up by an official. He apologized to the six family members of victims who were there to witness the execution, separated from the killer by about four feet and a glass window. “If this will give you closure, I hope it will,” he said. Garner thanked the state of Ohio, his spiritual advisers and friend Stacy Evans who gave him a clipping of her dreadlock to hold as he died. Garner’s voice cracked once as he said his goodbyes, but he never lost his composure. “I thought I’d never be free, but I am free now,” he said.

No one spoke as he was dying until the warden broke the silence. “Time of death, 10:38 a.m.,” Warden Donald Morgan called out when the curtain opened at 10:39 a.m. The people in the three witness rooms remained silent as they were ushered out.

Garner was sentenced to death for killing the children in the home of Addie Mack after he stole her purse from a phone booth at University Hospital and broke into her apartment. During the 40 minutes inside the witness rooms, Mack, who lost three daughters in the fire, turned a few times to look at her son, Rod Mack, the only one to survive the fire. About 10 anti-death penalty advocates stood in the drizzling rain during the execution.

Up to the moment of his death, Garner, who has an IQ of 76 and was considered borderline retarded, maintained he never intended for the children to die, and was only trying to cover up the fact that he stole a television set, a VCR, a boom box and phone from the home. Rod Mack jumped from the window and was found shivering in the snow when emergency crews arrived. He told the police he heard his sisters screaming. The girls died huddled together. Garner took a cab from the apartment to a United Dairy Farmers where he bought Hawaiian Punch, a jelly cake and candy.

For his last meal at the Death House on Monday, Garner also had Hawaiian Punch and an assortment of food that included a Porterhouse steak, barbeque chicken and ribs, sweet potato pie, fried shrimp and chocolate ice cream.

Garner declined the standard prison breakfast Tuesday morning, as well as a sedative, in the hours before his death. He spent the early morning hours with his mother, Patricia Garner, his sister Lisa Ross, his friend Evans, spiritual leaders, the defense counsel and his niece – the only person to witness his death on his behalf. “He is finally at peace and that was very important,” his older sister Ross said after his death. She said she hoped the family members of sisters Denitra Satterwhite, 12, Deondra Freeman, 10, Mykia Mack, 8; the girls’ cousin Markeca Mason, 11, and neighbor Richard Gaines, also 11, could one day forgive him.

Marshandra Jackson, who lost her daughter Markeca, quietly wept during the 40-minute process that started with prep-work and the insertion of two shunts while Garner was in his holding cell. The preparations were broadcast into the witness rooms through video monitors. He then took 17 steps into the death chamber and climbed on the gurney.

Garner arrived in Lucasville on Monday, a place where he first was admitted to death row all those years ago when the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility sent people to death by the electric chair. The prison at the time was the only one in the state to house death row inmates. Much has changed since then.

The electric chair has since been replaced first with a lethal cocktail of drugs and then more recently to the sole drug Thiopental Sodium. Garner, who sentenced shortly after he turned 20, had been housed at the Mansfield Correctional Facility since 1995, where he lived alone in a 94-square-foot cell. When not in trouble, he was permitted out of his cell for up to 2½ hours a day.

Garner found trouble, though. Reports from the correction department say he was cited 13 times for infractions ranging from having sex with inmates to throwing fluids on workers to violent outbursts and fighting.

Garner and his twin Willie, who were born on Sept. 26, 1972, went by the names Peewee and Pappy, respectively. Garner suffered abuse and got into trouble early, court records show. At the age of 5, he kicked a teacher and threw temper tantrums. Garner was beaten by his mother and her boyfriends, as well as by a brother who had sexually assaulted him, according to court records.

That brother was picked up on a warrant Tuesday as he stood outside the prison walls before the execution. The infraction was that he allegedly failed to register as a sex offender in Hamilton County. Garner started getting in trouble with the law at the age of 10. He failed the second-, fourth- and sixth-grades, court records say. There were theft charges, criminal trespass and another theft charge all before his 11th birthday. Many followed ranging from breaking and entering, to assault to disorderly conduct.

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