David Paul Hammer

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David Paul Hammer (born October 9, 1958) is an American murderer. He has been recently transferred from the federal death row at Terre Haute prison, Indiana to United States Penitentiary, Canaan.[1] He was sentenced to death on November 4, 1998 for the murder of his cell mate, Andrew Marti. Hammer has achieved media fame for his appeals against his sentence and against the death penalty itself.

Early years[edit]

Hammer himself described his childhood as being full of ‘poverty, abuse, and many other of society's ills’.[2] He is the oldest of three children. He attended 21 different schools as a child, dropping out of high school. As a child, he suffered verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. At 13 he ran away from home for several weeks before being returned. Two years later, Hammer lived on the street, with drug abuse problems. At age 16 he married, though was subsequently divorced.[citation needed]

Hammer was first imprisoned at the age of 19. With the exception of two brief escapes during the 1980s, he served 21 of the first 41 years of his life incarcerated for a multitude of offenses, including larceny, shooting with intent to kill, kidnapping and telephoning in a bomb threat. In all, he is serving 1232 years for his 11 convictions.[citation needed]

Hammer was first placed into the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in December 1993. He was transferred from the custody of the State of Oklahoma, where he was serving a state prison sentence in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections for over 1,200 years for crimes committed in that state.[3] Hammer received the BOP ID# 24507-077.[4]

Death sentence[edit]

In April, 1996, in the Special Housing Unit in the U.S. Penitentiary, Allenwood, Hammer strangled his cellmate, 27-year-old Andrew Hunt Marti (Federal Bureau of Prisons# 58008-065[5]) to death using a piece of homemade cord. Writing on a website dedicated to his case in 2001, Hammer could not ‘attribute any motive’ to his actions.[2]

Hammer was sentenced to death by lethal injection on November 4, 1998, in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, having pleaded guilty to the murder.[3] His execution date was set at January 14, 1999 at 10:00 A.M. Initially, Hammer was resigned to his fate, and encouragement to fight his conviction did not motivate him. He waived his right to appeal during his trial, then proceeded to appeal three weeks later, then followed by dismissing his own appeal a further three months later.

Hammer cites the nine-year-old daughter of fellow death row inmate, Brownsville drug boss Juan Raul Garza, as his motivation to fight his conviction. The daughter, Elizabeth Ann Garza, reportedly told Hammer that ‘his life could make a difference for others.’.[6] Elizabeth Ann’s letter to President Bill Clinton appealing against her own father’s sentence was also reported to have motivated Hammer to appeal his own death sentence.

Hammer himself wrote to President Clinton, asking for his sentence to be changed to life imprisonment rather than the death sentence, describing the death penalty to be ‘plagued by systemic bias, disparity and arbitrariness.’.[6]

On February 11, 2004 the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced that his execution date was set for June 8, 2004.[3]

As of 2010 he is housed in the U.S. Penitentiary, Terre Haute.[4]

Attempted suicide[edit]

On the night before June 11, the date of the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, Hammer attempted to commit suicide. A diabetic, Hammer injected insulin directly into his veins, however the attempt was thwarted and he received hospital treatment. In a daily journal, Hammer mentioned his suicide attempt, and wrote:

"I keep wondering how long until my own date with the executioner will arrive, I wish I were dead right now, but I'm not. Death would be a welcome relief."[7]

At the time, Hammer's own date of execution (previously set at November 15, 2000) had been postponed and no further date set, to allow for his appeals. Hammer’s attorney, Ronald Travis, claimed that he had no knowledge of his client’s intent to harm himself, however he did believe that Hammer and McVeigh were ‘close’.[7] Hammer himself reported that he and McVeigh had become friends having met on a flight from Terre Haute, and were in adjacent cells.

Hunger strike[edit]

On November 23, 2001, during a visiting period, Hammer became agitated and faced three misconduct charges. Placed under death watch, with constant supervision using cameras, Hammer refused both food and insulin, a great danger due to Hammer’s diabetes.

Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing[edit]

Hammer has published two books on the Oklahoma City bombing based on knowledge allegedly gleaned first-hand from Timothy McVeigh on death row prior to his execution: Secrets Worth Dying For: Timothy James McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing (2004), co-authored with Jeffery William Paul, and Deadly Secrets: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing (2010). In May 2010, shortly following the publication of the second book, Hammer gave an extended interview on the talk radio show of Alex Jones, detailing his relationship with McVeigh and McVeigh's account of the US government's alleged involvement.

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