Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

What Does a Botched Electric Chair Execution Look Like?

Allen Lee Davis. Photo: Florida DOC.

Warning: This post contains disturbing photographs.

On July 8, 1999, Allen Lee Davis became the last person to be executed in Florida’s electric chair. He had spent 16 years on death row awaiting execution for the 1982 murders of Nancy Weiler, three months pregnant, and her two young daughters, Kristina, 9 and Katherine 5. Davis beat Weiler to death with the butt of a .357 Magnum and then shot the two girls–Kristina in the face and Katherine in the back as she tried to run away.

On the eve of his execution, the 344-pound inmate, nicknamed “Tiny,” ate a last meal of lobster, fried shrimp, fried clams, garlic bread and root beer. The next morning, Davis was strapped into Florida’s brand new electric chair, which replaced the notoriously malfunctioning “Old Sparky.” Davis would be the first and last inmate to be executed in that chair.

Davis’s bald head and right leg were coated in a conductive gel. He grunted loudly as a wrist strap was tightened. The victims’ husband and father, John Weiler, was present for the execution. According to Weiler, before a hood was placed over Davis’s head, he made eye contact with the killer. ”He didn’t show an ounce of remorse. ‘He knew who I was. He didn’t care. Not a bit,” said Weiler.

At 7:10 a.m., the lever was pulled. Davis began to convulse and clench his fists. Then, a spot of blood appeared on the front of his shirt and began to spread, reaching a width of 8 inches. At 7:15, Davis was pronounced dead. Following the execution, Cory Tilley, spokesman for Florida Governor Jeb Bush said, “We are absolutely, 100 percent comfortable that the chair performed flawlessly as it was designed to perform… Everybody’s getting all worked up about a nosebleed.” Florida State Senator, Ginny Brown-Waite, was also present at the execution, and like most witnesses, was shocked to see blood. A Catholic, Brown-Waite told the Saint Petersburg Times that when she saw the blood stain forming the shape of a cross, she knew that meant God approved of the execution.

The voltage chart from Davis’s execution showed that the voltage applied to Davis was lower than intended. The electric chair is supposed to apply 2,300 volts for eight seconds, then 1,000 volts for 22 seconds, then 2,300 volts again for eight seconds. During Davis’s execution, the chair applied 1,500 volts for eight seconds, 600 volts for 22 seconds, and 1,500 volts for 4.5 seconds, a voltage argued by attorneys to be too low to kill an inmate, especially one Davis’s size, painlessly.

Following the execution, a Florida Supreme Court justice released several photos of Davis post-execution.

Warning: Photographs are disturbing.

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Davis after execution. Photo: State of Florida.

 

Davis after execution. Photo: State of Florida.

 

Davis after execution. Photo: State of Florida.

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