Capital punishment in Louisiana

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Louisiana State Penitentiary is the location of the State of Louisiana's male death row and execution chamber

Capital punishment is legal in the U.S. state of Louisiana. A total of 659 individuals have been executed in Louisiana including 28 since 1976. Toni Jo Henry (January 3, 1916 - November 28, 1942), born Annie Beatrice McQuiston, was the only woman executed in Louisiana's electric chair (for the murder of Joseph P. Calloway). A total of 88 people are under a sentence of death in the state as of 13 October 2007. The current method of execution in Louisiana is lethal injection. Capital crimes in Louisiana are: First degree murder (premeditation does not have to be a part of it, but instead requires specific intent), and treason. Formerly the state also allowed execution for the aggravated rape of a victim under the age of 12. The Supreme Court, however, ruled it unconstitutional on 25 June 2008 in Kennedy v. Louisiana, saying "there is a distinction between intentional first-degree murder on the one hand and nonhomicide crimes against individual persons".[1]

As in any other state, people who are under 18 at the time of commission of the capital crime [2] or mentally retarded[3] are constitutionally precluded from being executed.



Red Hat Cell Block, a deactivated prisoner housing unit at Angola that formerly housed death row and the execution chamber

The jury decides the sentence and may give a sentence of life imprisonment without parole for capital offenses. A unanimous verdict is needed is order to convict a defendant of a capital crime and sentence to death. Clemency rests with the governor of Louisiana, who must have a recommendation from a board.


Gruesome Gertie, the electric chair, at the Museum at the Louisiana State Penitentiary

The male death row is at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in West Feliciana Parish. The female death row is at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women in St. Gabriel.[4]

Executions in Louisiana are currently performed at the Louisiana State Penitentiary,[5] where Louisiana's method of execution is by lethal injection. Lethal injection is the sole method of execution. Previous methods: Hanging up to 1941 and then electrocution for 61 people from 1941 to 1991.

Capital offenses

The former state execution chamber at the Red Hat Cell Block in the Louisiana State Penitentiary. The electric chair is a replica of the original Gruesome Gertie.

Individuals executed since 1976

A total of 28 individuals convicted of murder have been executed by the state of Louisiana since 1976:

Executed personDate of executionMethodVictimsUnder Governor
1Robert Wayne Williams14 December 1983electric chairWillie Kelly.David C. Treen
2Johnny Taylor, Jr.29 February 1984electric chairDavid Vogler.
3Elmo Patrick Sonnier5 April 1984electric chairLoretta Bourque and David LeBlanc.Edwin Edwards
4Timothy G. Baldwin10 September 1984electric chairMary Lee Peters.
5Ernest Knighton, Jr.30 October 1984electric chairRalph Shell.
6Robert Lee Willie28 December 1984electric chairFaith Hathaway.
7David Dene Martin4 January 1985electric chairBobby Todd.
8Benjamin Berry7 June 1987electric chairRobert Cochran.
9Alvin R. Moore, Jr.8 June 1987electric chairJo Ann Wilson.
10Jimmy L. Glass12 June 1987electric chairNewt Brown and Erlene Brown.
11Jimmy Wingo16 June 1987electric chairNewt Brown and Erlene Brown.
12Willie Celestine20 July 1987electric chairMarcelaine Richard.
13Willie Watson24 July 1987electric chairKathy Newman.
14John E. Brogdon30 July 1987electric chairBarbara Jo Brown.
15Sterling J. Rault, Jr.24 August 1987electric chairJane Ellen Francioni.
16Wayne Robert Felde15 March 1988electric chairGlen Thompkins.Buddy Roemer
17Leslie Lowenfield13 April 1988electric chairShiela Thomas, Shantel Osborne, Carol Osborne, Owen Griffin, and Myrtle Griffin.
18Edward R. Byme, Jr.14 June 1988electric chairRobert Johnson.
19Dalton Prejean18 May 1990electric chairDonald Cleveland.
20Andrew Lee Jones22 July 1991electric chairTumekica Jackson.
21Robert Wayne Sawyer5 March 1993lethal injectionFrances Arwood.Edwin Edwards
22Thomas Lee Ward16 March 1995lethal injectionWilbert John Spencer.
23Antonio G. James1 March 1996lethal injectionHenry Silver.Murphy J. Foster, Jr.
24John Ashley Brown, Jr.24 April 1997lethal injectionOmer Laughlin.
25Dobie Gillis Williams8 January 1999lethal injectionSonja Knippers.
26Feltus Taylor, Jr.6 June 2000lethal injectionDonna Ponsano.
27Leslie Dale Martin10 May 2002lethal injectionChristina Burgin.
28Gerald Bordelon7 January 2010lethal injectionCourtney LeBlancBobby Jindal

Notable cases

The original Point Lookout Cemetery at Louisiana State Penitentiary; prisoners who are not reclaimed by their families are buried at LSP

The only two people in the United States who were sentenced to die (after reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976) for committing a rape that did not result in death were convicted in Louisiana courts: Patrick O. Kennedy and Richard L. Davis.[6][7] Kennedy's case has led to a challenge before the Supreme Court, which was heard in April 2008. The court ruled in their favor, overturning their death sentences but upholding their convictions.

On Saturday, August 29, 2009—the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina--a jury in Orleans Parish sentenced Michael Anderson to death on each of five counts of first degree murder for his execution style shooting of five teenagers on June 17, 2006 [1]. The quintuple slaying, which occurred as the nation watched New Orleans begin to rebuild in the aftermath of the storm, drew national attention to the violent crime problems plaguing the city and prompted then-Governor Kathleen Blanco to call in the Louisiana National Guard to help the New Orleans Police Department patrol the streets of the city. The sentence was especially significant as it marked the first time in twelve years that an Orleans Parish jury had sent a person to the state's death row at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana.


  1. ^ Greenhouse, Linda. "Supreme Court Rejects Death Penalty for Child Rape". The NY Times. Retrieved 2006-06-25.
  2. ^ Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005)
  3. ^ Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002)
  4. ^ "Classification–Where Inmates Serve Their Time." Inside the System: How Inmates Live and Work. Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections. 14/40. Retrieved on June 30, 2010.
  5. ^ "Officials prep for Bordelon's execution Thursday." The Advocate. January 6, 2010. Retrieved on August 24, 2010. "Laborde said Bordelon has been moved from Angola's new Death Row facility to a cell at nearby Camp F, where the execution chamber is located"
  6. ^ Loresha Wilson (2007). "Death for rapist: Jury says man should die for assaulting 5-year-old". Shreveport Times, Shreveport, LA. Archived from the original on April 21, 2008. Retrieved January 4, 2008.
  7. ^ Mark Sherman (2008). "Court Mulls Death Penalty for Child Rape". Associated Press. Retrieved January 11, 2008.[dead link]

External links