This week in 1933

“It looks pretty dark, but if I have to, I guess I can take my

— Morris Cohen, convicted of murder, electric chair, Illinois.
Executed October 13, 1933

A thirty-eight-year-old barber, Cohen got the electric chair for the murder of Officer Joseph Hastings during a robbery attempt at Chicago’s Navy Pier. A secondary headline in the Chicago Daily Tribune read “Record for Speedy Justice Is Set.” He had been executed less than two months after the crime.


This week in 1797

“When I think how I have sinned against the great God, my heart breaks and tears run from my eyes . . . I forgive every body, and hope that God will have mercy on me. Now in the 28th year of my age, I commit my spirit in to the hands of a merciful . . . God and hope he will receive me for his great mercy’s sake. I die in peace with all mankind, and beg that all people will take warning by my awful end.”

— Stephen Smith, convicted of arson and robbery, hanging, Massachusetts.
Executed October 12, 1797

A slave born in Virginia and owned by William Allen, Smith ran away from his master and robbed houses. He claimed that his father was a religious man but his mother encouraged him to steal. In Boston he was indicted for arson and robbery, then sentenced to death.


This Week in 2011

“I hope to see you again.”

– Roy Blankenship, convicted of rape and murder, lethal injection, Georgia. Executed June 23, 2011.

After a night of drinking, Blankenship broke into the home of Sarah Bowen, a 78-year-old women who employed Blankenship for repair jobs. Blankenship raped Bowen, who died of heart failure due to the trauma. His death sentence was reversed twice before he was finally executed using a lethal injection combination containing pentobarbital, which had not been previously used by Georgia for executions.


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