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  1. #1
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    Execution Reporter: Michael Graczyk

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    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.

    http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode...chael-graczyk/
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  2. #2
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    PATRICK5's Avatar
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    I don't think reporters should make themselves part of a story. Furthermore, last time Graczyk did an interview like this, the antiDP crowd went nuts - especially the weenies overseas, and he became a focus of their hatred and attacks.
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  3. #3
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    The anti death penalty crowd would rather the media didn't cover executions. Then they could say anything they wanted and pass it off as truths.

    I thought it was a good interview. Graczyk remained neutral.
    A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

  4. #4
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    Why doesn't someone from Cncpunishment.com get official media credentials to attend an execution?

  5. #5
    jaycube
    What is this site all about, is it related to the crime world.

  6. #6
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    Michael Graczyk, AP Reporter, Reflects On Hundreds Of Texas Executions He's Seen



    About once every three weeks, I watch someone die.

    Beginning in 1984 when I arrived in Texas for The Associated Press, I've been just a few feet away as one convicted killer after another took a final breath in the Texas death chamber in Huntsville, where the state's 500th execution in modern times took place Wednesday.

    I really don't know how many I've seen. I lost count years ago and have no desire to reconstruct a tally.

    While death penalty cases are not the only assignments I cover, those certainly leave the strongest impressions.

    One inmate, Jonathan Nobles, sang "Silent Night" as his last words as he was receiving the lethal injection. He got to "Round yon virgin, mother and child" before gasping and losing consciousness. Christmas, for me, never has been the same.

    When I walked into the death chamber to witness Bob Black's execution, he called my name, said hello and asked how I was doing. What do you say to an otherwise healthy man seconds away from death?

    J.D. "Cowboy" Autry was the first lethal injection I saw, in March 1984. A female friend of his who was a witness loudly sobbed about his "pretty brown eyes." Moments later, Autry's eyelids popped open as he died, revealing for a final time his brown eyes.

    Autry's case was a memorable one. Six months earlier he was on the gurney with the needles in his arms when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a last-minute reprieve. To make sure no one had to make the final walk twice again, the prison stopped taking inmates to the death chamber until all appeals were resolved.

    I remember Charles Rumbaugh's mangled hand, the result of being shot by a federal marshal he attacked in a courtroom. Henry Lee Lucas, who avoided execution when it was determined he hadn't really committed the hundreds of murders he had copped to, always had orange-tinged fingertips from rolling his own cigarettes. The arms of Angel Resendiz, the notorious "Railroad Killer," were scarred by repeated self-inflicted razor cuts. Markham Duff-Smith, who insisted he didn't kill four relatives, made a death chamber confession.

    The death chamber, for 50 years home to the electric chair, has undergone its own changes. The gurney, once on wheels, is a permanent pedestal-like structure bolted to the tile floor. The simple horizontal bar between the inmate and the viewing area was replaced by a thick transparent plastic wall after a needle popped out of Raymond Landry's arm, spraying the lethal drugs toward me and other witnesses.

    The first executions were carried out just after midnight. Years later, death warrants were set to take effect at 6 p.m., more convenient for lawyers and judges and less costly in prison overtime.

    Some executions came with raucous public demonstrations outside. When Ronald Clark O'Bryan, known as "The Candy Man," was executed for lacing his son's Halloween candy a Pixy Stick with cyanide so he could collect on an insurance policy, dozens of students dressed in Halloween costumes filled the streets. One carried a giant Pixy Stick replica that looked like a barber pole.

    One convict, Ponchai Wilkerson, spit out a hidden handcuff key in his mouth as he was about to die. A Houston judge added a smiley face to his signature on Robert Drew's execution warrant. Carl Kinnamon gave a long final statement in hopes of delaying the procedure until his death warrant expired. He thanked me and others for covering his case, then tried to wriggle out of the leather restraints.

    The final statements which some victims' relatives have criticized as providing prisoners with an opportunity their slain loved ones never had have included songs, poems, prayers and Bible verses. Some inmates have spouted profanity. At least two prisoners thanked the Dallas Cowboys for brightening their lives.

    Patrick Knight held a contest dubbed "Dead Man Laughing," encouraging people to send him a joke to tell from the chamber. He said he got 1,300 responses. The "joke" turned out to be Knight's claim that the person being executed wasn't really Patrick Knight. But fingerprints confirmed it was.

    Richard Hinojosa repeatedly invoked "Yahweh" during his final words as thunder boomed and lightning crackled outside, adding an eerie backdrop to the proceeding.

    Johnny Frank Garrett thanked his family for loving and caring for him, then added: "And the rest of the world can kiss my ass."

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/0...n_3506564.html
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  7. #7
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    Strange, according to TDCJ he didn't attend the milestone McCarthy execution.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by PATRICK5 View Post
    I don't think reporters should make themselves part of a story. Furthermore, last time Graczyk did an interview like this, the antiDP crowd went nuts - especially the weenies overseas, and he became a focus of their hatred and attacks.
    Graczyk's job is a little different than that of the average reporter. Your average reporter reports on things that happened that other people saw, based on interviews with them. Graczyk is a witness to the event. So he's automatically part of the story.

    I think what frustrates the anti-DP crowd about him is that he has witnessed so many executions, period. Not just reported on them. Witnessed them. And he his stomach hasn't turned to the point that he's come out against it. He might be against it. But he hasn't publicly stated so. Which in a way is a kind of silent endorsement.

  9. #9
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    I think he is silently ProDp. I think his reporting has always been even-handed and factual. I once emailed him about an error, and he got back to me, with a question about my source, the article was fixed within minutes. Lee

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