This week in 1983

To his fellow inmates on death row:
“In spite of what is about to happen, do not quit. . . .I hold no malice to none. May God bless us all.”

—Robert Sullivan, convicted of murder, electric chair, Florida.
Executed November 30, 1983

Sullivan was sentenced to the electric chair for killing Donald Schmidt, an assistant manager of a Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge where he had once worked. An accomplice testified against him, though Sullivan claimed innocence. Before his death, Sullivan read from a two-page statement, the full text of which is now unavailable. In the end, he thanked Pope John Paul II for requesting that his life spared.


This week in 1926

“I want to say that I am ready right now to pay my debt to society and my God.”

— Richard Evans, convicted of murder, hanging, Illinois
Executed November 29, 1926

After a visit by the prison minister shortly before his execution, Evens was described as have the face of an angel and the heart of a devil. Evans denied that he had shot a Chicago police officer all the way up to the day he was hung. The career thief and robber expressed no remorse for his crime and believed that life imprisonment was punishment enough for what he had done.


This week in 1851

“Here we go, pals, ’round and ’round.

— James Wilson, aka Mountain Jim, convicted of grand larceny, hanging, California.
Executed November 28, 1851

Wilson asked that he be allowed to place the noose around his own neck, a request that was denied. There were rumors about his true identity; one claimed that Wilson’s name was a pseudonym for Noah James, a survivor of the infamous Donner Party. One witness wrote in his diary that Wilson “spoke for more than half an hour by the watch I had in my hand. You could hear his voice three blocks away, and I have never heard more blasphemies that those he uttered.” Few facts about Wilson’s crime survive. He asked that the press “do him justice.”


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