Lynda Lyon Block

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Block was held at the death row of the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women

Lynda Cheryle Lyon Block (February 8, 1948 in Orlando, Florida – May 10, 2002 at Holman Correctional Facility, Alabama) was an American convicted murderer.[1] Hers was the first execution of a woman in the state of Alabama since 1957. She was the 9th female executed in the U.S. since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976.[2]

Background[edit]

Lynda Cheryle Lyon was born February 8, 1948, in Orlando, Florida, to Francis (Frank) Stephen Lyon and Berylene Elisabeth Owen. Lynda, and her sister Denyce (born 1952), lost their father when she was 10, when he died of heart failure. Lynda and her mother were never close, and Block claimed that her mother was both physically and mentally abusive.[3]

Her second husband, George Sibley, claims that a constant trait of Block's was charity. While living in Key West she served as Secretary of the Humane Society, and also as animal abuse investigator. She was also active in civic work besides her service to the Humane Society: for two years she served as president of the Friends of the Library in Key West and served as publicity director for a mayoral candidate.[3]

Before the crime that led to her conviction and transfer to Alabama's death row, Block published Liberatis, a political magazine. She came from such a high social standing that many were shocked to learn of her crime.[4]

Crime[edit]

On October 4, 1993, a passer-by expressed concern to Opelika police Sergeant Roger Motley about Lyon's son, who was in a parked car with her common law husband, George Sibley, and looked as though he wanted help. By Sibley's own account, he was explaining to Motley, who had asked for his driver's license, why he was not required to have one when he observed Motley placing his hand on his service revolver. Sibley then drew his gun. Motley took cover behind his patrol car; witnesses stated Sibley fired first. Block was at a payphone when she heard gunfire. Witnesses stated that she was in a crouched position when she fired; she claimed that she fired just as she stopped running toward Motley. Motley, who had given his bulletproof vest to a rookie officer, was mortally wounded in the chest.

Part of an anti-government movement, Block and Sibley had renounced their citizenship and destroyed their birth certificates, driver's licenses, and Social Security cards.[5] They refused to cooperate with their court-appointed attorneys, maintaining that they had acted in self-defense. They also maintained that Alabama did not have the authority to try them as it was not properly re-admitted into the Union after the American Civil War.[6] Although it could not be determined who fired the fatal shot, they were both convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. At the time of the incident, they were on the run from Florida to escape sentencing for an assault on Block's ex-husband.

Death row[edit]

Block, Alabama Institutional Serial #Z575, entered death row on December 21, 1994. While on death row, she was held at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama.[7]

During her time on death row, Block was interviewed by writer Tahir Shah, who included her reflections in his book Travels With Myself, in the chapter entitled "Women on Death Row". In her very candid responses, Block reflects on the incident that got her sentenced to death, her reaction upon hearing the sentence, and what it was like to live on death row. Shah also shared a video on his YouTube channel, also titled "Women on Death Row," where he discusses his experience interviewing Block on death row.[4][8]

Execution[edit]

She was executed on May 10, 2002.[1] Block's execution occurred at the Holman Correctional Facility near Atmore, Alabama.[9]

Before the execution, three friends visited Lyon in her final holding chamber for several hours. Lyon also saw a spiritual adviser. She had not requested a last meal, nor made a final statement. Though she was allowed to choose two witnesses to her death, Lyon chose her spiritual adviser, Sally Michaud, as the only person to view her death. Sally did not attend the execution, however. Two witnesses to the execution were members of the victim's family: Motley's sister, Betty Anne Foshee, and their mother, Anne Motley.

Near 12:00 midnight, she entered the execution chamber, wearing a white prison outfit. Her shaved head was covered with a black hood. At 12:01 a.m., the current was turned on. 2,050 volts of electricity were applied to her body for 20 seconds, and then 250 volts for 100 seconds. At 12:10 a.m., she was pronounced dead.[10] She was the last person to be electrocuted in Alabama and the first woman executed in the state since 1957.

Sibley filed a hand-written petition asking the Alabama Supreme Court to block his execution, claiming that Lyon had fired the shot that killed Motley. He was executed on 4 August 2005 by lethal injection.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Inmates Executed in Alabama." Alabama Department of Corrections. Retrieved on March 3, 2011.
  2. ^ "Lynda Lyon Block: Executed May 10, 2002 by Electric Chair in Alabama". Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Sibley, George. "Lynda Cheryle Lyon – Sibley: The extraordinary woman her killers did NOT want you to know". Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Shah, Tahir (2011). Travels With Myself. Mosaique Books. pp. 388–399. ISBN 978-1-4478-0582-3. 
  5. ^ "South Bend native on Alabama death row" South Bend Tribune March 10, 2003 at the Wayback Machine (archived October 22, 2009) Accessed 11 January 2009
  6. ^ "DOCUMENT - USA (ALABAMA): DEATH PENALTY LYNDA LYON BLOCK (F)". Retrieved 11 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Mcleod, Michael. "LYNDA BLOCK HEADS FOR THE ELECTRIC CHAIR CONVINCED THE GOVERNMENT IS THE ENEMY. ; `A DANGEROUS GAME'; THOSE WORDS HEADLINED AN ANTI-GOVERNMENT TIRADE BLOCK WROTE YEARS AGO. IF ONLY SHE KNEW HOW PRESCIENT THEY WERE: SHE'S SET TO DIE FRIDAY MORNING FOR KILLING A SMALL-TOWN COP IN ALABAMA." Orlando Sentinel. May 9, 2002. A1. Retrieved on March 3, 2011. "Her cell at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka Ala where she has lived[...]"
  8. ^ Shah, Tahir. "Women on Death Row". Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  9. ^ "Woman could be last in electric chair Alabama execution set tonight." Atlanta Journal-Constitution. May 9, 2002. A4. Retrieved on March 3, 2011. "Block's scheduled execution at Holman Prison, about 40 miles northeast of[...]"
  10. ^ "Lynda Cheryle Lyon Block ( - 2002) - Find a Grave Memorial" Find a Grave September 11, 2006 Accessed 29 September 2009

External links[edit]