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Recording of a Botched Execution

Two of the executions recorded on the tapes -- that of Alpha Otis O'Daniel Stephens and Larry Grant Lonchar -- are "botched" -- that is, the inmate is still alive after being electrocuted for two minutes. In these cases, the inmate is electrocuted again after a five-minute "cool-down" period.

[Photo: Alpha Otis O'Daniel Stephens]

Alpha Otis O'Daniel Stephens was convicted of the 1974 murder of Roy Asbell, who was taken to a remote field and shot twice in the ear after he interrupted a burglary at his son's home. Stephens was executed on December 12, 1984. He was 39 years old.

The RealAudio file below is a recording of the execution of Alpha Otis O'Daniel Stephens. It has been shortened considerably for broadcast. The actual electrocution lasted more than 20 minutes. Please see the tape archive for the complete recording.

Execution of Alpha Otis O'Daniel Stephens (RealAudio file, 3:49 min.)

Dick Pettys of the Associated Press described the Stephens execution this way:

"Seconds after a mask was placed over [Stephens's] head, the first jolt was applied, causing his body to snap forward and his fists to clench. His body slumped when the current stopped two minutes later, but shortly afterward, witnesses saw him struggle to breathe. During the required six minutes in which the body was allowed to cool before doctors could examine it, Stephens took about 23 breaths. At 12:26 a.m., two doctors examined Stephens and said he was alive. At the second jolt, administered at 12:28 a.m., Stephens again snapped upright. The charge was discontinued at 12:30 a.m., and at 12:36 a.m., he was pronounced dead."

Georgia's General Assembly changed the state's method of execution to lethal injection in 2000. However, it did so only for those who committed capital crimes after May 1, 2000. All inmates who were on deathrow at the time are still subject to electrocution.

More information on the history of botched executions can be found on the Death Penalty Information Center's Web site.

Next Page | Inmates' Last Words

 

READ
Intro
Ivon Ray Stanley
"Botched" Execution
Last Words
Complete Audio

MORE

Witness to an Execution, a documentary about the Texas death house

Death Row Diaries, a feature about the last two inmates executed in the U.S. before the year 2000

Georgia Supreme Court's ruling that found the use of the electric chair unconstitutional [PDF file, 314K]

The Last Public Execution, a book about the 1936 hanging of Rainey Bethea

History of "botched" executions from the Death Penalty Information Center

Breaking death penalty news from Court TV

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