- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2006

JARRATT, Va. — A man who raped and murdered a young mother was electrocuted last night, becoming the first person in the United States to die in the electric chair in more than two years.

Brandon Wayne Hedrick, 27, was pronounced dead at the Greensville Correctional Center at 9:12 p.m.

“I pray for the people that are unsaved,” Hedrick said in his final words. “I’m ready to go and be free.”

A metal cap was then placed upon Hedrick’s head and a brown leather restraint was tightened around his eyes.

The executioner, hidden from view behind one-way glass, then pressed a button that delivered 1,800 volts to Hedrick’s body, which jolted upward, straining against the straps. A plume of smoke rose from his right calf, where a metal clip had been placed.

After about 3 minutes, the current was cut off. A physician entered the chamber about 5 minutes later, placed a stethoscope on Hedrick’s chest and declared him dead.

Hedrick was sentenced to death for the 1997 rape and murder of Lisa Crider, 23, in Appomattox County. He is the first person electrocuted in the United States in more than two years.

The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday rejected Hedrick’s request for a stay, and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine declined to intervene after the high court’s decision.

“I find no reason to doubt Mr. Hedrick’s guilt or to set aside the sentence that was recommended by the jury and then imposed and affirmed by the courts,” Mr. Kaine said.

Virginia’s death row inmates are given the option of injection or electrocution. Last week, several corrections officers showed up at Hedrick’s cell late at night to present him with a form on which he was told to choose his execution method, Hedrick’s attorney Robert Lee said.

“[They] begin talking about lethal injection — talking about being strapped down to the table, being made to wait long periods of time, the difficulty sometimes in finding a vein,” Mr. Lee said. “That information coupled with general frustration produced this result.”

Attorneys fighting lethal injection in several states have asserted that a favored mix of drugs can cause inmates extreme pain. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that inmates can challenge lethal injection as a civil rights issue.

Hedrick did not say that the officers discussed reports of undue pain caused by the chemicals, Mr. Lee said. However, Hedrick “had some awareness of the concerns that have been raised in other litigation — the idea that you’re anesthetized, but maybe you don’t remain unconscious.”

Mr. Lee added that he did not think Hedrick was manipulated or tricked into choosing the electric chair, though, “Clearly, that stuff spooked him.”

Virginia has experienced a few problems with electrocutions since the state resumed use of the chair in 1982.

In 1990, witnesses reported seeing blood streaming from inmate Wilbert Lee Evans’ mask. The next year, killer Derick Lynn Peterson remained alive after sustaining jolts of 1,725 volts for 10 seconds and 240 volts for about 90 seconds. The process was repeated and he was pronounced dead 13 minutes after the initial shock.

Larry Traylor, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections, said he is confident the officers carried out the execution-selection process properly.

Hedrick’s attorneys had asked the U.S. Supreme Court and Mr. Kaine to stop the execution. They argued Hedrick received inadequate representation at trial and may be mentally retarded.

Hedrick and a friend, Trevor Jones, had devised a plan to rob Miss Crider, whom they spotted walking along a road in Lynchburg on the night of May 10, 1997. After bringing her back to Jones’ apartment, they forced her at gunpoint into Jones’ truck, where Hedrick raped and sodomized her. They later stopped the truck along a remote bank of the James River, where Hedrick delivered a fatal shotgun blast to Miss Crider’s face.

Hedrick was sentenced to death in 1998. Jones was given a life sentence.

Miss Crider’s body was found on Mother’s Day, 1997. She left behind a 5-year-old son, Tracy, now 14.

“She always tried to make something out of nothing, tried to make things better,” said Miss Crider’s mother, Dale Alexander, 55, of Altavista, Va., who planned to witness the electrocution with her two sons.

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