This week in 1956

April 7th, 2015 by admin

“I’m innocent! I’m innocent! I’m innocent!”

— Robert Otis Pierce, convicted of murder, gas chamber, California.
Executed April 6, 1956

With an accomplice Smith Edward Jordan, Pierce killed an Oakland cabdriver in a seven-dollar robbery turned murder. The man, Charles Rose, died after being struck several times by the butt of Pierce’s gun. After his conviction, Pierce spent his time in prison writing “All of God’s Children Got Rhythm,” but the manuscript was confiscated by prison officials and was lost. The previous day, Pierce vowed to put on a show for the other death row inmates, saying, “It will take two guys to get me in that chair, ’cause I’m going to go out fighting, kicking and screaming.”

On his execution day, Pierce slashed his throat with a broken shard of mirror. After wrapping his neck with a prison shirt, he fought guards all the way to the chamber. It took the combined strength of four guards to strap him into the chair, where he continued to struggle and curse. Witnesses looked on in horror as he bled, wept, and cursed in the gas chamber.

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