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Georgia executes Emmanuel Hammond

JACKSON, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia man convicted of killing an Atlanta preschool teacher more than two decades ago has been executed by state corrections officials.

Emmanuel Hammond (left) was put to death by injection Tuesday at the state prison in Jackson after state and federal courts turned down his appeals. The 45-year-old was pronounced dead at 11:39 p.m.

Hammond was convicted of the 1988 murder of 27-year-old Julie Love, who was abducted in north Atlanta after her car ran out of gas.

Prosecutors say Love was beaten and raped before Hammond took her into the woods, shot her to death and dumped her body into a trash pile.

Investigators didn't find her body until August 1989, when Hammond's girlfriend told police he was responsible for her disappearance.

Source: Associated Press, January 25, 2011


U.S. Supreme Court temporarily halts Georgia execution

The U.S. Supreme Court delayed the execution Tuesday of a death row inmate whose lawyers filed a last-minute appeal questioning the legality of using execution drugs that they said came from a company operating out of a London driving school.

The order from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas delays the execution of inmate Emmanuel Hammond until the top court can address the concerns raised by his defense team. The order did not suggest how long that could take.

Hammond, 45, was convicted of the 1988 shotgun killing of preschool teacher Jule Love, who was abducted in north Atlanta after her car ran out of gas.

Hammond's execution comes amid a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental, a part of the 3-drug cocktail used in Georgia's lethal injections. His attorneys sought more information on how the state obtained the drug, claiming in court filings it came from a "fly-by-night supplier operating from the back of a driving school in England."

But prosecutors urged judges to dismiss allegations that the state's supply was inferior, calling Hammond's claims a "red herring." A Fulton County judge agreed, denying his request for 2-week reprieve, and the Georgia Supreme Court upheld that decision.

Prosecutors have urged judges to uphold the conviction of the man nicknamed "Demon."

The court records lay out Love's killing in stark terms. The petite instructor was returning home from a "career chat" meeting with friends in north Atlanta when her car ran out of gas. As she walked down the road, a maroon Cutlass sedan carrying Hammond, his girlfriend Janice Weldon and his 18-year-old cousin Maurice Porter offered help.

She declined, telling the group she lived nearby. Before they drove away, someone in the car realized Love had tricked them, and Hammond jumped out with a sawed-off shotgun and threw Love into the car.

They drove her to an elementary school in a rundown neighborhood, where Porter rifled through her purse and found a little cash and ATM cards. At gunpoint, Hammond forced Love to reveal her pin number. But she was so nervous she gave him the wrong number.

Hammond sent Porter and Weldon to withdraw money from her account. When Weldon realized they would be returning empty handed, she told Porter: "Demon going to be mad," according to court records.

She was right. Hammond hit Love repeatedly with the gun barrel, and Porter pulled her aside and raped her. After a disgusted Weldon left, Hammond bound Love's hands, feet and neck with coat hangers and covered her in a blanket. She somehow managed to free her hands, yelling "Don't do it."

Then, Hammond marched Love into the woods. About three minutes later, Porter heard a gunshot and saw Hammond return with blood on his face. When Porter said to his cousin, "you didn't do what I think you did," Hammond's response was "had to."

Love's disappearance put her friends and family into a frenzy. Her fiance, Mark Kaplan, who had proposed just a week before she went missing, found her abandoned red Mustang and prodded police to launch an investigation. Then he made fliers, organized rallies and turned his home into a staging area for hundreds of volunteers.

It took almost a year for investigators to get a break in the case. In July 1989, Weldon, infuriated after suffering a particularly brutal beating by Hammond, went to a police station and told authorities about Love. Officers outfitted her with a recording device and sent her to talk to Porter, who corroborated what she said.

Authorities arrested Porter and Hammond, and they found Love's body in August 1989 about 30 yards from where Porter told them it would be.

Porter pleaded guilty to murder and rape charges and was sentenced to life in prison. Weldon was given immunity for her testimony.

Hammond's lawyers tried a new appeal strategy last week in a bid to delay the execution, saying they needed more time to investigate the state's supply of sodium thiopental, a lethal injection drug that's in short supply. They said in a hearing Monday that Georgia got the drug from Dream Pharma, a London-based company based in a driving school.

A Fulton County judge rejected the argument, saying Hammond had no evidence the drug was "adulterated or inferior." But his attorney appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday, claiming the state is about to execution someone using drugs illegally obtained from a "fly-by-night supplier operating from the back of a driving school in England."

"We wouldn't allow a dying pet to be euthanized using drugs with such dubious origins," said Sara Totonchi of the Southern Center for Human Rights, which filed the lawsuit. "That Georgia would carry out its business of extinguishing a human life in this manner is outrageous and embarrassing."

Love's friends and family, meanwhile, are still trying to cope with her death. Roz Cohen, an administrator at The Epstein School, where Love worked, recalled a vivacious, energetic teacher whose life ended far too soon.

"She was so excited about her future," said Cohen. "A life, right at the beginning, was just cut short because she was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 25, 2011


Witness to death: Reporter’s account of Hammond execution

Editor’s note: At the invitation of the Georgia Press Association, The Daily Post volunteered to witness the lethal-injection execution Tuesday night of Emmanuel Hammond, who in 1990 was convicted of murder and related crimes in Fulton County.

In this line of work I’ve seen bad things.

Bodies in parking lots, a man broken in half when his truck flipped in an Indiana culvert, the charred remains of a trucker shot like a bullet from his fuel tanker and, most recently, an armed man gunned down by SWAT members in his front yard.

But I’ve never had an appointment with death.

Someone told me once to never pass up the opportunity to write about something you will always remember.

Two weeks ago, the name Emmanuel Hammond meant nothing to me. I hadn’t heard of the case, let alone reported on it, so I had no personal stake in his actions, or the lifetime of pain he surely inflicted upon good people. A burning hatred for someone is useful when you watch them die. Indifference is dangerous.

I read the court rulings and state-provided facts:

How Hammond, his girlfriend and cousin were driving through Buckhead one night in July 1988 when they happened upon a preschool fitness instructor named Julie Love, 27, whose Mustang had run out of gas. How Love refused a ride and kept walking. How Hammond beat her with a sawed-off shotgun, forced her in the car, assisted in her attempted robbery at an ATM machine and her rape on the grounds of an elementary school. How he tried unsuccessfully to strangle her with a clothes hanger and, later, forced her into some woods and fatally fired the shotgun into her face.

A conviction on strong evidence that pins a man to those sort of actions, in my book, lands him in the category of human cancer. Eye for an eye, right?

Despite this, I couldn’t help recall the musings of a brainy comedian, who said, in deceptively simple terms, that if killing a man is wrong, shouldn’t killing a man be wrong? What solution does death bring, especially when it’s relatively painless?

I volunteered, at the invitation of the Georgia Press Association, to watch Hammond’s state-sanctioned death as a means to more fully understand the process. For several days, the notion of 7 p.m. Tuesday, the reckoning hour, clung to my subconscious like a burr.

At the 24-hour mark, I found myself trying to mentally synch with the condemned, to be mindful of his parade of last things on this, his last day. Would he sleep on his last night? Would he count down the collapsing hours? This much was certain: His last day was a dreary, rainy, chilly affair, with low clouds caught across Georgia like gauze.

At 4 p.m. Tuesday I was flummoxed in the doorway of my closet, posed with the interesting question of attire: What does one wear to an execution? Funeral garb? More cheery, optimistic things? I donned a blue blazer and khakis and walked nervously out the door. This is when the dizziness began.

Dueling logic

Under Georgia law, murder, rape, armed robbery and kidnapping — along with less common crimes such as treason and aircraft hijacking — are punishable by death. Unlike in some states, where governors famously can intervene, Georgia’s parole board has sole constitutional authority to commute a death sentence, or reduce it to life in prison without parole.

As of 2008, the death penalty was authorized in 37 states. Georgia has executed 48 men since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the punishment in 1973. Hammond would be the 26th to die here by lethal injection.

Opponents argue the carrying out of executions in Georgia is too arbitrary. I know more than one prosecutor who feels lethal injections are too lenient, an escape hatch bereft of their victim’s suffering.

Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter explained this week that, in order for an execution to be green-lighted, a jury must find a “statutory aggravating circumstance” — such as torture, or a murder for hire — and a victim must have been killed, except in the aforementioned rare crimes.

Protesters representing Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty staged 11 protests and vigils in Georgia cities Tuesday night, including several in metro Atlanta. About 20 of them had braved a pesky rain to object to Hammond’s execution, huddled beneath a light post in a cordoned-off patch of soggy earth near the prison entrance. The state had provided them a Port-o-Potty.

The group has a saying that echoes in other anti-death penalty circles: Those without capital get the capital punishment.

“Most folks on death row are poor,” said protester Suzanne Hobby-Shippen, of Barnesville. “If you can afford to get a great attorney, chances are you’re not going to get a death sentence.”

Another activist asserted that it’s more expensive in Georgia to execute inmates than to keep them in prison on life-without-parole sentences. She was asked to elaborate on the cost comparison.

“It’s very, very hard to get that information,” she said. “Some other states do have it; we don’t for Georgia.”

Tense hours

Georgia Diagnostic and Classification
Prison in Jackson
From the highway, the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson looks surprisingly serene, like the entrance to a state park, all rippling lakes and soaring clusters of pines. I was met by a gaggle of armed guards and directed to park in a media staging area. The “bus,” I was told, would pick me up in an hour or so. Across the highway, Hess filling station and Dairy Queen patrons went obliviously about their day.

By this time, Hammond, 45, had wrapped up an allotted six-hour visitation with family and friends. Medical staff had administered his routine physical. And he’d probably finished his last meal: Fried chicken, French fries, corn on the cob, jalapeno peppers, mint chocolate chip ice cream and cherry limeade. The thought of eating anything made me nauseous.

Just before the bus arrived, several hundred yards away, Hammond was offered the anti-anxiety sedative Ativan, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. His lawyers were meanwhile arguing the constitutionality of a much stronger sedative, sodium thiopental, a product of Dream Pharma, a company that operates in the back of a London driving school. The notion that a lethal injection drug like that shouldn’t be used from such a questionable source would land in the laps of U.S. Supreme Court justices that night, and would buy Hammond another 4.5 hours of life.

About 6 p.m., the bus, a sprawling Ford van, arrived. As required, I left all electronics, jewelry, even my pen inside my Volkswagen. The only other passenger was Andrew Adler, a writer from the Atlanta Jewish Times, who had covered the Love disappearance two decades prior and thought of Hammond’s demise like a salvo, a closing door. We arrived at the main prison entrance, where a tactical unit stood armed with shotguns. The dizziness resumed.

A long, bleak corridor. Clanging steel doors. No turning back. I wasn’t sure how near the execution chamber was, yet I was besieged by nerves and second thoughts. Prison staff handed us legal pads and No. 2 pencils. We came to a staff cafeteria and were introduced to DOC spokeswoman Joan Heath, our chaperone. She warned us that temporary stays are ordinary, and to not be alarmed should we wait around until midnight. We peppered her with questions to disarm surprises.

“It’s very dignified, professional,” Heath assured. “It’s done the right way. It doesn’t matter what time it is.”

Rumor holds that, on the day of an execution, the locked-down facility goes customarily quiet, a show of reverence by those awaiting similar fates. All of Georgia’s under-death inmates are housed there. It is the beginning and end of death row.

7:30 p.m. There was a prevailing sense of unease that we were in for a long night. No word from a DOC sergeant who would fetch us for a short ride to the death chamber. The appeal had made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, who we realized would be attending the State of the Union address and would have to convene afterward. Deadlines grew increasingly impossible. I asked Heath who actually administers the drugs.

“I’m not sure,” she said. “We don’t know, and we don’t want to know.”

The conversation turned to last meals. Turns out there are no limitations. If Hammond would have wanted, say, Fat Matt’s Barbecue from the famed Atlanta shack, someone would have fetched it.

“You’d be surprised,” Heath said. “Most want the institutional meal that’s served that day.”

9:15 p.m. Starving, we were offered a snack (read: dinner) of Cheetos, Deer Park water and some sort of cream-filled raisin wafer. The anticipation gnawed.

9:25 p.m. Fearing an indefinite stay, prison officials allowed Associated Press writer Greg Bluestein to join us. He’d been designated the execution’s media “monitor,” the sole viewer of the IV insertions and the strapping in. He’d been waiting in the death chamber. His good friend was a 5-year-old pupil of Love’s in 1988. The room pulsated with boredom.

‘We’re on’

10:53 p.m. Rob Jones, DOC general counsel, took our orders for Subway sandwiches. I was famished and worried I’d not eaten enough. A few minutes later, Jones hustled back in the room, said the Supreme Court had ruled.

“We’re on,” Jones said.

The sandwiches were canceled.

11:15 p.m. A fuzzy mist clung to the night. The bus smelled like cigarettes. The mist became rain. We were driven around the prison’s periphery, thick with razor wire, through a series of checkpoints. Guards with shotguns searched beneath the hood, around the chassis. We drove across a rain-saturated prison yard to the execution chamber, where other buses were unloading witnesses. The chamber reminded me of a self-storage facility with a necklace of razor wire. The passengers from other buses trudged in. I asked Heath if we’d be able to speak with them afterward, to sort them out. She said that was out of the question. Adler and I would be last in, first out, first gone.

In the death chamber Hammond lay brightly lit behind panels of two-way glass, the gurney tilted toward the audience, his arms out, wrists up. He wore a white shirt; sheets lay across his stomach and legs, his head closely shaven and only a thin suggestion of a mustache on his lip. Everything he wore and everything around him seemed so clinically white he practically glowed. He worked his lips and jaws like a horse chewing cud. Even the nurse who tended Hammond’s tubes wore white, her face stern and aged, little stars of earrings sparkling.

The viewing room was tense and small, maybe 20 feet by 20 feet, rimmed elbow-to-elbow in law enforcement, medical personnel and stone-faced men in suits. There were three bright, yellow doors leading places we weren’t privy to. The audience consumed every open space in three pew-like benches, the victim’s kin and prosecutors who put Hammond there earning the front row. On the pews lay brown paper bags for vomit. A heavy door closed. I kept expecting a bull-rush to the exit.

Warden Carl Humphrey, a hulking and deep-voiced man, confirmed all witnesses were present. He asked that viewers remain quiet, and called a Jehovah’s Witness chaplain for prayer. Hammond, breathing hard, nodded when the chaplain called him “a faithful servant.” He had no last words, no audible remorse.

11:26 p.m. The controversial drug was administered first. Hammond’s lips lifted with his breathing, nostrils flaring. He yawned. He mouthed a couple words to someone in the second row, but the mic was turned off. Next was pancuronium bromide (a paralyzing agent) and lastly potassium chloride (the heartbeat stopper). Hammond’s muscled arms relaxed on the gurney. A man who Adler assured me was the victim’s fiance in 1988 fainted in the front row, his head draped back over the bench. Hammond’s head drooped toward his right shoulder, his mouth opened slightly and eyelids parted. Two doctors entered the room. They examined his chest and eyes, gave the nod.

11:39 p.m. Hammond was dead. His dying took 13 minutes. A man pulled a beige curtain across the windows, the one-act death skit over.

I scribbled these first, visceral impressions:

“Clinical, anti-climactic, eerie, tense, almost cinematic, haunting, professional, dizzying, fascinating, macabre, respectful, terrifying.”

Being whisked from the death chamber, a black van caught my eye. Its doors popped open and out came a stretcher. The bus took us back to our vehicles. They wished us well. In the immortal words of Kurt Vonnegut, “So it goes.”

Dizziness. That’s the only way to describe it. I squinted at the wet interstate all the way home.

I kept hoping the threat of state-sanctioned death, and any account that I might generate, would somehow serve as a deterrent, that the need for a demise like Hammond’s might one day dissipate. In this line of work I’ve seen bad things. So I have my doubts.

E-mail Josh Green at josh.green@gwinnettdailypost.com.

Source: gwinnettdailypost.com, January 29, 2011
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Comments

MsJennaNY said…
Excellently written.

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