Eddie Lee Mays

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Eddie Lee Mays
Born 1928/1929
North Carolina, USA
Died August 15, 1963 (aged 34)
Sing Sing, Ossining, New York, U.S.
Criminal penalty Death penalty
Criminal status Executed by electrocution
August 15, 1963
Conviction(s) Murder
Robbery

Eddie Lee Mays (c. 1929 – August 15, 1963) was the last person to be executed by the State of New York. He was convicted of first degree murder and robbery in 1962. Mays was 34 years old at the time of execution.[1]

Biography[edit]

Mays, an African-American from North Carolina, was sentenced to death for killing a customer during a robbery at a bar in New York.[2] Mays and two accomplices held up the Friendly Tavern, at 1403 Fifth Avenue in East Harlem on March 23, 1961.[1] Mays ordered the owner and the patrons to put their cash on the bar. However 31-year-old Maria Marini, who witnesses said was too slow to comply, enraged Mays. After opening her purse and finding it empty, Mays put a .38 caliber revolver to her forehead and pulled the trigger, killing her instantly.[3] The gang stole a total of $275 from the bartender and several customers during the robbery.

At Mays' subsequent trial, the court heard that he had been part of a gang which had committed 52 robberies in six weeks.[3] Mays told reporters he would rather "fry" than spend his life in prison.[1]

Mays entered the execution room at 10.01 p.m. on August 15, 1963, accompanied by a Protestant chaplain, and was strapped into the electric chair. He made no final statement to the prison Warden or other witnesses before being electrocuted and was pronounced dead three minutes later, at 10.04 p.m.

Mays would become the last person to be executed by "Old Sparky", New York State's electric chair at Sing Sing prison. The State Electrician was Dow Hover. The electric chair had been the sole method of execution in the State since 1890 (hanging had been abolished in 1888). In 1965, the State of New York repealed the death penalty, except for cases involving the murder of a police officer.[4] Although the legislature never fully repealed the death penalty statute, and the state even expanded it in 1995, there were no further executions because of rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 and the New York Court of Appeals in 2004.

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