This week in 1754

“I heartily thank the good Ministers who have frequently
visited me, and prayed for me. I heartily forgive my enemies.
And I sincerely fly to the Blood of Jesus Christ
which is able to atone for my innumerable iniquities
and cleanse me from the Pollution of Sin.”

— William Welch, convicted of murder, hanging, Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Executed April 11, 1754

Welch’s relatives in Ireland attempted to curb his reputation for trouble by sending him to America, where they hoped he would reform. But little changed. Welch was soon wanted for theft and for stabbing a man who had pursued him. Later in life, Welch was caught by Darby O’Brian, who wanted to collect reward money. Welch offered him more money than the reward, then murdered O’Brian after the two achieved an agreement. Welch’s account was recorded in “A Chronicle of Welch’s Confession and Last Words,” published in Boston in 1754.


This week in 1956

“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.


This week in 2005

“I would like to say I apologize to Carol Skjerva, the girl that I murdered, her family and her friends. This is the punishment that I deserve. I’m taking responsibility for my actions. I want everybody to know I’m not a volunteer but this is my responsibility I have to take.”

— Glen Ocha, convicted of murder, lethal injection, Florida.
Executed April 5, 2005

An intoxicated Ocha brought Carol Skjerva into his home and had sex with her. After she threatened to tell her boyfriend what happened, Ocha tried three times to strangle her with a rope. He finally hung the rope from his kitchen doorframe and drank a beer while she died. Ocha had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse. He pleaded guilty to the crime and waived a jury trial.


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