Donald Harding (murderer)

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Donald Eugene Harding (March 1, 1949 – April 6, 1992) was convicted of the January 25, 1980, murders of Robert Wise and Martin Concannon. He was executed in 1992 by the state of Arizona by gas chamber. He became the first person to be executed in Arizona since 1976 when the death penalty was reinstated.

Harding's execution is also noteworthy in that his asphyxiation in the gas chamber took 11 minutes before death was finally confirmed. The prison warden stated that he would quit before ever performing another gas chamber execution.[1] The state attorney general, Grant Woods, was a witness at the execution and Harding spent his last moments cursing out Woods and giving him the middle finger. Contrary to media wire reports at the time, Woods claimed not to have become ill witnessing the execution.[2][3]

This provided momentum for the movement to replace the gas chamber with lethal injection, and in November of that year, Arizona voters approved the change in method, although prisoners sentenced to death prior to November 15, 1992, could still choose the gas chamber. Harding thus became the last prisoner executed in Arizona's gas chamber without having lethal injection as an option (Walter LaGrand, who was sentenced to death in 1982, was executed in the gas chamber at his request).

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  1. ^ Weil, Elizabeth (2007-02-01). "The Needle and the Damage Done". New York Times. Retrieved 2017-05-01. 
  2. ^ Woods, Grant (2008-01-13). "Reflections on death in gas chamber". Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2016-04-21. 
  3. ^ McShane, Larry (24 April 1992). "Last Words of Those Executed Express Variety of Emotions". Daily News. Retrieved 29 July 2012.