Allen turns out to be stronger than portrayed

first_img He was pronounced dead at 12:38 a.m. His attorneys had sought clemency from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and reprieves from state and federal courts, claiming the man, who was mostly blind and deaf and suffered from diabetes, was too old and sick to be put to death, that a lethal injection amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. “The death penalty is always wrong, but tying a blind 76-year-old man to a chair and injecting him with poison is grotesque,” Terry Davis, Europe’s top human rights watchdog, said in a statement after the execution. Davis chairs the Council of Europe, where the death penalty is outlawed. Medical records show Allen was indeed ailing, and prison officials don’t dispute his condition. However, some observers saw a man in better condition than he had been portrayed. Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, R-Orange, witnessed the execution as a member of a legislative committee debating a moratorium on the death penalty. “He did not appear to be as infirm as news accounts portrayed him. For 76 years old, he looked to be in remarkably good shape,” Spitzer said. Allen died wearing a beaded headband, a medicine bag around his neck and a ceremonial eagle feather on his chest. Two American Indian spiritual advisers visited with him in the hours before the execution. He released a last statement read by Ornoski saying he enjoyed his last meal – a buffalo steak, fried chicken, Indian pan-fried bread, a pint of black walnut ice cream and sugar-free pecan pie. But Allen had proclaimed his innocence, and his final words never mentioned the 1980 hit job that resulted in the murders of a 17-year-old girl and two men, ages 18 and 27. The family of one of Allen’s victims, Josephine Rocha, said in a statement that Allen “abused the justice system with endless appeals until he lived longer in prison than the short 17 years of Josephine’s life.” The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected Allen’s last-minute appeal. “It went smoothly, it went as it was planned, and I believe ultimately, Mr. Allen received the justice he deserved for the murders he committed,” state prosecutor Ward Campbell said. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita Anticipating a possible replay of his September heart attack, Allen had asked prison authorities to let him die if he went into cardiac arrest before his execution, a request prison officials said they would not honor. “At no point are we not going to value the sanctity of life,” said prison spokesman Vernell Crittendon. “We would resuscitate him.” Crittendon explained that executions are scheduled for one minute after midnight because the death warrant is only valid for that day, giving authorities time to treat an inmate’s ailments, then kill the prisoner without having to seek another order. Allen suffered cardiac arrest four months ago, but was revived and returned to death row. Yet his heart proved strong enough Tuesday, forcing prison officials to administer a second shot of potassium chloride to stop it. “It’s not unusual; this guy’s heart had been going for 76 years,” said Warden Stephen Ornoski. SAN QUENTIN, Calif. – In the end, California’s oldest condemned inmate wasn’t as feeble and frail as his attorneys portrayed in their futile efforts to spare his life, describing a man who would have to be carried into the death chamber. With the help of four large correctional officers, Clarence Ray Allen shuffled from his wheelchair to a gurney in San Quentin State Prison early Tuesday morning, a day after his 76th birthday. Though legally blind, Allen raised his head to search among execution witnesses for relatives he had invited, mouthing “I love you.” “Hoka hey, it’s a good day to die,” Allen told the warden in a last statement nod to his Choctaw Indian heritage before being led into the chamber. “Thank you very much, I love you all. Goodbye.” last_img read more