“The dying embers of an altar-place…”

As the state prepares for a double execution, emotions are running high and legal teams are working fervently to reverse the situation. The Tennessee Supreme Court denied a stay of execution for Paul Reid, who was convicted for a string of murders in fastfood chains in 1997, but Sedley Alley, sentenced to die for the 1985 rape and murder of Suzanne Collins, is awaiting the court’s decision on blocking his execution. Both are scheduled to be executed on Wednesday morning.

The last execution in Tennessee was on April 19, 2000 when Robert Glen Coe was put to death by lethal injection for the crimes of first degree murder, aggravated rape, and aggravated kidnapping. As always, there is debate about the justification of death as punishment for crimes committed, but it seems this event in particular hasn’t drawn as much protest in comparison. Perhaps I haven’t been paying attention to the headlines… but has anyone else noticed this? Is Tennessee’s silence proclaiming where we stand?

9 Comments so far

  1. Jim (unregistered) on June 27th, 2006 @ 8:37 am

    I think that it is major news among the primary constituencies (pro- and anti-death penalty camps). But for the average citizen it isn’t on their radar. The mere fact that the state plans to execute so many people (5) on the same day will probably boost the visibility of these executions. Only one other state has executed more on one day than Tennessee plans (if I remember my statistics correctly).

    I used to waffle on this issue but as I grew to see the disproportionate application of the death penalty to minorities and and I saw the rather common frequency of wrongly accused being put on death row only to be later found not guilty I lost any “faith” in the system to be fair or even marginally error-free.

  2. Benjamin H. (unregistered) on June 27th, 2006 @ 3:42 pm

    Five in one day? I thought it was just these two…. TN will be the fifth state to execute at least two people on the same day since the ban was lifted, is that where five came from?

  3. Mister Nashville (unregistered) on June 27th, 2006 @ 4:52 pm

    You’re right Benjamin. I don’t think any state in modern days has executed that many folks. Now, back in the lynching days that was certainly a different story…

  4. Liz (unregistered) on June 28th, 2006 @ 12:28 am

    I’m neither for nor against the death penalty, I can’t seem to pick which side I’m on, so I just go back and forth, contradicting myself. I think many people do the same thing, when a serial killer hits so many times, so close to home, taking lives for just pennies on the dollar, it’s hard to think that the bastard deserves to live.

    I just can’t name one reason these guys deserve to live, whether it’s the government that does it, or if it’s another inmate, either way I hope somebody does.

  5. Jim (unregistered) on June 28th, 2006 @ 8:41 am

    Originally five were scheduled. I’ll have to research what happened to the other 3 cases.

    Alley DID get executed BTW.

  6. Jim (unregistered) on June 28th, 2006 @ 8:46 am

    I found out about the other three executions (from the Commerical Appeal):


    Tennessee Supreme Court
    Three of five executions reset

    Three of the five men scheduled to be executed in Nashville next Wednesday were removed from the list Tuesday by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

    Charles Rice and David Ivy, both of Memphis, and William Glenn Rogers of Clarksville were given new execution dates for next year to allow them to pursue their appeals. They were convicted of murdering women or young girls.

    Still set for execution are Sedley Alley of Millington and Paul Dennis Reid of Nashville.

    Alley, 50, was convicted of the 1985 rape and murder of Marine Lance Corporal Suzanne Marie Collins.

    Reid, 48, was convicted of the murders of Baskin-Robbins employees Angela Holmes, 21, and Michelle Mace, 16, in 1997 in Clarksville.

    Both men have issues before the appellate courts and their attorneys are seeking to halt their executions.

    In another case, the court set an execution date of Oct. 25 for Donnie Johnson of Covington, who was convicted of suffocating his wife Connie Johnson in 1983 in an office at his workplace in Memphis.

    — Lawrence Buser

  7. Benjamin H. (unregistered) on June 28th, 2006 @ 11:06 am

    Interesting Jim, I look forward to seeing that info.

    I am against death penalty for one reason only: based on the last figures I had heard, it was much more expensive to put someone on death row than to stick them in a cell for the rest of their life (due to lawyer fees, etc etc). I don’t know how accurate this is, but until I know otherwise, I’ll stick with that idea. Death just seems like an easy way out for what they did.

    Just make sure they bloody don’t get cable and internet in their cells.

  8. Mister Nashville (unregistered) on June 28th, 2006 @ 11:25 am

    The Tennessee Comptroller of Finances released a report in 2004 about the high cost of execution. HERE is a link to it. IT IS A PDF! According to the study, death penalty trials cost an average of 48% more than the average cost of trials in which prosecutors seek life imprisonment.

  9. Jim (unregistered) on June 28th, 2006 @ 8:42 pm

    According to several published articles, including one in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, there were originally 5 executions scheduled for the same day. The courts postponed three of them for unspecified reasons.

    My guess is that they didn’t want the publicity for infamously executing the 2nd most number in a single day. The record is 7, I think.

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