Over the last 28 years, Associated Press reporter Micheal Graczyk has made the trek to tiny Huntsville Texas, home to co-eds, convicts and those on death row. And hundreds of times, Michael Graczyk has stood in the death chamber and watched, listened and taken notes at a state execution. Today, as the fate of a Canadian on death row in Montana continues to play out, we're asking Michael Graczyk about the insights he's gained in the one state that executes more people than any other.
Ronald Allen Smith's fate is in the hands of the Montana parole board. The Canadian has been on that state's death row for decades, and yesterday he made his final plea for clemency. The board will issue its decision the week of May 21st.
Had Ronald Smith murdered someone in Connecticut, he'd certainly have lots more time; the state has just announced it will abolish the death penalty. Had he killed in California, he'd have hope since a former warden at San Quentin prison is spearheading a bid to stop executions.
But if he'd killed in Texas, he would likely already be dead. Texas hanged, shot, electrocuted, and now lethally injects its criminals with a unique zeal. When it switched on its first electric chair in 1924, it killed five men on the same day.
So far this year, 5 convicted criminals felt the executioner's needle. Michael Graczyk watched as they took their last breath. The reporter from the Associated Press has witnessed more than 300 executions. It's believed he's seen more men and women put to death than anyone else in the United States. Michael Graczyk joined us from Houston.