The federal government executed 50-year-old William LeCroy on Tuesday night after the Supreme Court denied a last-minute bid to block it. LeCroy, who was convicted in 2004 of killing a nurse he believed had put a spell on him, was given a lethal injection of pentobarbital. The sedative caused his midsection to heave uncontrollably, the colour to drain from his lips and his face to turn pale grey, according to witnesses in the execution chamber inside a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. He was pronounced dead at 9:06 p.m.
Another man, Christopher Vialva, is scheduled to be executed Thursday as punishment for killing two people during a 1999 carjacking at Fort Hood in Texas. He will be the first Black man executed under President Donald Trump and the seventh this summer since Attorney General William Barr and Trump revived the punishment.
LeCroy and Vialva are part of a wave of federal executions that began in July when the Trump administration resumed carrying out the death penalty for the first time in 17 years, in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. The government is using a drug that may torture as it kills, according to autopsy reports. Several of the men selected for execution over the past two months still had pending litigation related to their cases when their deaths were scheduled.
Vialva, who was 19 years old when he committed his crime, never had the chance for post-conviction review, despite credible claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and advancements in neurological science showing that the teenage brain is not fully matured.
“I am speaking out now because the U.S. government is trying to execute me and many others using your tax dollars, and there is no substantial national media coverage on federal capital punishment,” Vialva said in a video recently released by his attorneys. Most people, Vialva noted in the video, are unaware that Black people are disproportionately sentenced to death and that many people on death row...