George W. Barrett
|George W. Barrett|
|Born||Lockport, New York, U.S.A.|
|Died||March 24, 1936
, by hanging|
Marion County, Indiana, U.S.A.
George W. Barrett (c. 1881 – March 24, 1936), also called Diamond King, was the first person sentenced to death by hanging under a congressional act that made it a capital offense to kill a federal agent. On December 7, 1935 he was convicted of first degree murder in the death of special agent Nelson B. Klein by a Federal court jury. He was 55 years old at the time of death.
Barrett had worked as a streetcar conductor in Cincinnati before the murder. He came to the attention of the FBI because he was wanted for car theft and interstate transportation of vehicles. FBI agents Nelson B. Klein and Donald McGovern had tracked Barrett to West College Corner, Indiana when Barrett barricaded himself in a garage and began to shoot, injuring Klein. The mortally wounded Klein fired back, hitting Barrett in both legs. Shortly thereafter, the local police arrived, and Barrett was taken to a local hospital and treated for his wounds. After several days he was released, and then taken to Indianapolis where he was tried and convicted of the murder of a federal agent.
The state of Indiana had adopted the electric chair as a method of execution in 1913, and was unprepared to carry out Barret's preference for hanging as the method of execution. A farmer, Phil Hanna, who had taken up the study of hanging executions as a hobby was called upon to perform the execution by the method required by the sentence. Before the trap was sprung at 12:02 pm, Barrett was asked if he had any last words, but did not respond. Barrett was still crippled from his wounds at the time of his execution, and had to be carried to the gallows on a stretcher and supported by deputy marshals. Barrett's last request was to see his brother, John, but no response was received to a telegram sent before his execution. There were approximately 50 official witnesses at the time of his death.