Capital punishment in Louisiana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Louisiana State Penitentiary is the location of the State of Louisiana's male death row and execution chamber

Capital punishment is legal in the U.S. state of Louisiana. A total of 659 individuals have been executed in Louisiana including 28 since 1976. Toni Jo Henry (January 3, 1916 - November 28, 1942), born Annie Beatrice McQuiston, was the only woman executed in Louisiana's electric chair (for the murder of Joseph P. Calloway). A total of 88 people are under a sentence of death in the state as of 13 October 2007. The current method of execution in Louisiana is lethal injection. Capital crimes in Louisiana are: First degree murder (premeditation does not have to be a part of it, but instead requires specific intent), and treason. Formerly the state also allowed execution for the aggravated rape of a victim under the age of 12. The Supreme Court, however, ruled it unconstitutional on 25 June 2008 in Kennedy v. Louisiana, saying "there is a distinction between intentional first-degree murder on the one hand and nonhomicide crimes against individual persons".[1]

As in any other state, people who are under 18 at the time of commission of the capital crime [2] or intellectually disabled[3] are constitutionally precluded from being executed.


Red Hat Cell Block, a deactivated prisoner housing unit at Angola that formerly housed death row and the execution chamber

The jury decides the sentence and may give a sentence of life imprisonment without parole for capital offenses. A unanimous verdict is needed in order to convict a defendant of a capital crime and sentence to death. Clemency rests with the governor of Louisiana, who must have a recommendation from a board.


Gruesome Gertie, the electric chair, at the Museum at the Louisiana State Penitentiary

The male death row is at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in West Feliciana Parish. The female death row is at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St. Gabriel.[4]

Executions in Louisiana are currently performed at the Louisiana State Penitentiary,.[5] Louisiana's method of execution is lethal injection. Previous methods: Hanging up to 1981 and then other forms of electrocution for 61 people from 1941 to 1991.

Capital offenses[edit]

The former state execution chamber at the Red Hat Cell Block in the Louisiana State Penitentiary. The electric chair is a replica of the original Gruesome Gertie.
  • First degree murder:
    • The murder was committed during the commission of, attempt of, or escape from a specified felony (aggravated kidnapping, second degree kidnapping, aggravated escape, aggravated arson, aggravated rape, forcible rape, aggravated burglary, armed robbery, assault by drive-by shooting, first degree robbery, second degree robbery, simple robbery, terrorism, cruelty to juveniles, or second degree cruelty to juveniles).
    • The victim was a firefighter or peace officer engaged in his or her lawful duties.
    • The offender has a specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm upon more than one person.
    • The murder was committed for pecuniary gain or pursuant to an agreement that the defendant would receive something of value.
    • The victim was under the age of 12 years.
    • The victim was 65 years or older.
    • The murder was committed during an illegal drug deal.
    • The murder was committed while the defendant was engaged in "ritualistic acts".
    • The murder was committed while the defendant was the subject of a restraining order protecting the victim.
    • The murder was committed upon a victim who was a witness to a crime or was a member of the immediate family of a witness to a crime committed on a prior occasion.

Individuals executed since 1976[edit]

A total of 28 individuals convicted of murder have been executed by the state of Louisiana since 1976: The most recent Louisiana inmate to be put to death, Gerald Bordelon, waived his appeals and asked the state to carry out his sentence.

Executed person Date of execution Method Victims Under Governor
1 Robert Wayne Williams 14 December 1983 electric chair Willie Kelly. David C. Treen
2 Johnny Taylor, Jr. 29 February 1984 David Vogler.
3 Elmo Patrick Sonnier 5 April 1984 Loretta Bourque and David LeBlanc. Edwin Edwards
4 Timothy G. Baldwin 10 September 1984 Mary Lee Peters.
5 Ernest Knighton, Jr. 30 October 1984 Ralph Shell.
6 Robert Lee Willie 28 December 1984 Faith Hathaway.
7 David Dene Martin 4 January 1985 Bobby Todd.
8 Benjamin Berry 7 June 1987 Robert Cochran.
9 Alvin R. Moore, Jr. 8 June 1987 Jo Ann Wilson.
10 Jimmy L. Glass 12 June 1987 Newt Brown and Erlene Brown.
11 Jimmy Wingo 16 June 1987
12 Willie Celestine 20 July 1987 Marcelaine Richard.
13 Willie Watson 24 July 1987 Kathy Newman.
14 John E. Brogdon 30 July 1987 Barbara Jo Brown.
15 Sterling J. Rault, Jr. 24 August 1987 Jane Ellen Francioni.
16 Wayne Robert Felde 15 March 1988 Glen Thompkins. Buddy Roemer
17 Leslie Lowenfield 13 April 1988 Shiela Thomas, Shantel Osborne, Carol Osborne, Owen Griffin, and Myrtle Griffin.
18 Edward R. Byme, Jr. 14 June 1988 Robert Johnson.
19 Dalton Prejean 18 May 1990 Louisiana State Police Trooper Donald Cleveland.
20 Andrew Lee Jones 22 July 1991 Tumekica Jackson.
21 Robert Wayne Sawyer 5 March 1993 lethal injection Frances Arwood. Edwin Edwards
22 Thomas Lee Ward 16 March 1995 Wilbert John Spencer.
23 Antonio G. James 1 March 1996 Henry Silver. Murphy J. Foster, Jr.
24 John Ashley Brown, Jr. 24 April 1997 Omer Laughlin.
25 Dobie Gillis Williams 8 January 1999 Sonja Knippers.
26 Feltus Taylor, Jr. 6 June 2000 Donna Ponsano.
27 Leslie Dale Martin 10 May 2002 Christina Burgin.
28 Gerald Bordelon 7 January 2010 Courtney LeBlanc. Bobby Jindal

Notable cases[edit]

The original Point Lookout Cemetery at Louisiana State Penitentiary; prisoners who are not reclaimed by their families are buried at LSP

The only two people in the United States who were sentenced to die (after reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976) for committing a rape that did not result in death were convicted in Louisiana courts: Patrick O. Kennedy and Richard L. Davis.[6][7] Kennedy's case has led to a challenge before the Supreme Court, which was heard in April 2008. The court ruled in their favor, overturning their death sentences but upholding their convictions.

On Saturday, August 29, 2009—the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina—a jury in Orleans Parish sentenced Michael Anderson to death on each of five counts of first degree murder for his execution style shooting of five teenagers on June 17, 2006 [1]. The quintuple slaying, which occurred as the nation watched New Orleans begin to rebuild in the aftermath of the storm, drew national attention to the violent crime problems plaguing the city and prompted then-Governor Kathleen Blanco to call in the Louisiana National Guard to help the New Orleans Police Department patrol the streets of the city. The sentence was especially significant as it marked the first time in twelve years that an Orleans Parish jury had sent a person to the state's death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana.

The prosecution of Rodricus Crawford for the murder of his one-year-old son in 2013 brought national attention to Caddo Parish, Louisiana and its controversial District Attorney (DA) Dale Cox, responsible for one-third of the entire state of Louisiana's death sentences since he became DA and an aggressive proponent of the death penalty. He was quoted by the New York Times as saying his chief goal as a prosecutor was to kill more people.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Greenhouse, Linda. "Supreme Court Rejects Death Penalty for Child Rape". The NY Times. Retrieved 2006-06-25. 
  2. ^ Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005)
  3. ^ Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002)
  4. ^ "Classification–Where Inmates Serve Their Time." Inside the System: How Inmates Live and Work. Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections. 14/40. Retrieved on June 30, 2010.
  5. ^ "Officials prep for Bordelon's execution Thursday." The Advocate. January 6, 2010. Retrieved on August 24, 2010. "Laborde said Bordelon has been moved from Angola's new Death Row facility to a cell at nearby Camp F, where the execution chamber is located"
  6. ^ Loresha Wilson (13 December 2007). "Death for rapist: Jury says man should die for assaulting 5-year-old". Shreveport Times, Shreveport, LA. Archived from the original on April 21, 2008. Retrieved January 4, 2008. 
  7. ^ Mark Sherman (2008). "Court Mulls Death Penalty for Child Rape". Associated Press. Retrieved January 11, 2008. [dead link]

External links[edit]