- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 28, 2002

RICHMOND (AP) Four inmates were executed in Virginia this year, up from two last year but far below the state's modern record of 14 just three years ago.

The state once had 60 inmates on death row but now has 23 after a large number of executions in the 1990s. During that decade, many appeals ran out, in part because of changes in the law designed to speed up the appeals process.

The average time from when a death sentence is affirmed by the Virginia Supreme Court to execution is just less than four years for cases decided since 1995, said Randy Davis, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office. The average has been about six years.

Virginia has executed 86 killers since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed executions to resume in 1976.

That total represents more than 10 percent of the 820 executions that have been carried out nationally during the same period. Texas leads Virginia and all other states, with 289 executions.

The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported 155 admissions to death rows across the country in 2001, the most recent year for which figures are available. That is an almost 50 percent drop from the average 296 added yearly from 1994 to 2000.

Three inmates were added to Virginia's death row this year. Last year, four inmates were added to the state's death row.

Across the nation, 71 inmates were executed this year, up from 66 last year but well below the 98 executed in 1999.

Out of the 38 states with capital punishment, 13 conducted executions this year, the fewest number in eight years, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

The center said 86 percent of this year's executions occurred in Southern states and that Texas led the way, with 33 executions.

The inmates executed in Virginia were:

•James Earl Patterson, who raped and stabbed a woman after breaking into her Prince George' County home to steal money for drugs.

•Daniel Lee Zirkle, who fatally stabbed his 4-year-old daughter at a Page County overlook after killing her 14-year-old half-sister in neighboring Rockingham County.

•Walter Mickens Jr., who stabbed a teenage boy 143 times in Newport News after trying to sodomize him.

•Aimal Khan Kasi, who shot two CIA employees outside the agency's headquarters in Fairfax County.

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