- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 8, 2004

RICHMOND (AP) — The first was Capt. George Kendall, a Jamestown council member killed by a firing squad in 1608. The last was on July 22.

In the past 400 years, Virginia has put to death more men, women and children than any other state, the Death Penalty Information Center reports. The total stands at 1,369.

The youngest known was 12, and the oldest was 83.

The Death Penalty Information Center, based in the District, maintains a database of all executions in the country since 1976, when the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment after a four-year hiatus.

The center’s Web site also includes the “Espy File,” a historical capital-punishment catalog compiled by M. Watt Espy of Headland, Ala., who documented 14,634 civil executions that occurred in the country until 1991.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the center, said there likely were other executions that are not on Mr. Espy’s list because they could not be confirmed by state records, newspaper stories or other sources.

Most Virginia executions were hangings, but at least two men were shot, and two women, both murderers, were burned to death — one in 1737 and the other in 1745.

According to Mr. Espy’s data and the Death Penalty Information Center, out of the 1,369 persons executed in Virginia, 1,262 were men and 88 were women, with the sex of the remaining 19 unreported. Of the 1,369, 1,119 were black, 225 white, 15 unknown, seven Hispanic and three American Indian.

The most frequently committed offense that led to execution was murder.

According to the Virginia Department of Corrections, most executions were hangings that took place at courthouses statewide until 1908, when capital punishment was centralized and executions were performed by the electric chair at the Virginia State Penitentiary in Richmond.

Since 1908, 327 persons have died in the electric chair.

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