July 20, 2006

Virginia brings back electric chair for execution

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A convicted murderer was executed in
the electric chair in Virginia on Thursday night becoming the
first person in the United States to be put to death by
electrocution in more than two years.

Brandon Wayne Hedrick, 27, was sentenced to death for the
rape and murder of Lisa Crider, 23, near Lynchburg, Virginia,
in May 1998.

"Death was pronounced at 9:12 (EST/00:12 GMT). There were
no complications," said Virginia Department of Corrections
spokesman Larry Traylor.

Hedrick elected to die by electrocution rather than lethal
injection, Traylor said.

Under Virginia law, death row inmates may choose either the
electric chair or lethal injection. If they refuse to make a
choice, the method of execution would automatically be lethal
injection, which became an option in Virginia in January 1995.

Since then, only four condemned inmates have chosen
electrocution, including Hedrick, Traylor said.

Before Hedrick, the last person to be put to death in the
electric chair in the United States was James Neil Tucker in
2004 in South Carolina, according to the Washington Post.

Traylor said Hedrick made a final statement as witnesses,
including several members of his victim's family looked on.
"I'm ready to go and be free," the statement said, in part.

The death penalty is authorized in 38 of the 50 U.S.
states, as well as by federal government. Texas, Virginia and
Oklahoma account for more than half of the executions.

The number of people executed in the United States since
1977, when the Supreme Court ended a 10-year moratorium on
capital punishment, passed 1,000 in December.