This Week in 2011

“The state says killing is wrong, so why do they do it? For revenge. Where is the closure? There is none. The death penalty is an act of revenge. Many men sit on death row, some innocent, some not. So what happens when a man is executed and it’s later learned he was, in fact, innocent? He can’t be brought back.”

– Martin Link, convicted of kidnapping, rape, and murder, lethal injection, Missouri. Executed February 9, 2011.

Link kidnapped eleven-year-old Elissa Self while she waited for the bus that would take her to school. He was connected to her death after police pulled him over for a broken headlight. A jar of petroleum jelly with his fingerprints and flecks of blood, later determined to be Elissa’s, was found in his vehicle.


This week in 1866

“I don’t know as I’ve got anything to say; I am going to be hanged, and don’t want to make a stump speech.”

— Barney Olwell, convicted of murder, hanging, California.
Executed January 22, 1866

Working for a hog farmer, Olwell was owed forty-two dollars, which his employer kept promising to pay him. After an argument Olwell shot him dead, later telling the arresting officer: “Any man who owed me money and did not pay me, I would kill him.” Olwell was eventually granted a second trial after the court accepted evidence of insanity. He was again found guilty and sentenced to die. After Olwell delivered his last words, according to the California Police Gazette, a priest “leaned forward and whispered in his ear a mild rebuke for this seeming levity.”


This week in 1876

“I must make a statement in regard to this matter. I feel it my duty to God and to man to do so. I am guilty of killing the two men. My soul is stained with blood and my punishment is just. I hope all will forgive me. I pray God to guide and prosper this country. I am the murderer of William Spence. And George W. Sisney. That is all I have to say.”

— Marshall Crain, convicted of murder, hanging, Illinois.
Executed January 21, 1876

Crain, a twenty-year-old hired assassin, murdered Sisney and Spence in 1876. The double murder, labeled by the press the “Williamson County Vendetta,” was part of a long- standing feud between the Bulliner and Henderson families of Carbondale, Illinois. Before Crain’s execution, he was remanded to a jail in Marion County in order to avoid a lynching at the hands of an angry mob.

The Chicago Tribune noted: “He was born, raised, educated, married, committed his crimes and was executed within a radius of 10 miles.”


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