Virginia Electrocutes Willing Killer


Robert Gleason died as he chose to die Wednesday night, in Virginia’s seldom-used electric chair.  Gleason, 42, had the option under state law to select either electrocution or lethal injection as the mode of his execution.  And he essentially forced the state to seek his execution by killing two fellow inmates in prison, and threatening to continue to kill.

“Someone needs to stop it. The only way to stop me is put me on death row,” Gleason told AP in 2009; he repeated his threats in court on numerous occasions.

“This is a bizarre case where the death penalty is actually the sole motivator for the killing,” attorney John Shelton told the Washington Post. Shelton had previously represented Gleason, and continued to fight the execution after being dismissed by his client. He petitioned  unsuccessfully for federal courts to determine whether Gleason was competent to waive his rights to further appeals.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit denied Shelton’s request earlier Wednesday; the U.S, Supreme Court also declined to block the execution.

Gleason was strapped into Virginia’s electric chair at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarrett as victims’ survivors looked on; he was pronounced dead at 9:08 p.m.  He was the 110th prisoner put to death in Virginia since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

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