- The Washington Times - Friday, July 3, 2009

RICHMOND | A Virginia man set to be executed later this month for killing a 16-year-old girl and bragging about it in a letter to prosecutors when he thought he no longer could be charged wants to die by electrocution.

Paul Warner Powell, 31, is set to die July 14 at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt for attempting to rape and killing Stacie Lynn Reed in 1999. He also raped and stabbed Miss Reed’s younger sister, but she survived and testified against him.

Virginia and six other states give condemned inmates a choice between lethal injection and electrocution. Several others only offer a choice to those who were convicted before the state made lethal injection its sole method, and a handful keep alternative methods such as firing squad, electrocution or gas chambers on the books in case lethal injection is ruled unconstitutional.

Since 1995, when Virginia began offering the choice, only four of the 79 inmates executed have chosen electrocution, the last one in 2006.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, said most inmates - and most legislatures - choose lethal injection because it is presumed to be less painful and more humane.

Gov. Tim Kaine’s office said that he has received a petition for clemency in Powell’s case and that it will be reviewed. Powell’s attorney did not return a call seeking more information.

Powell, a self-avowed racist and white supremacist, and Miss Reed were friends and he was upset that she was dating a black youth. On Jan. 29, 1999, Powell went to her Manassas home and confronted her about the relationship. They struggled and he stabbed her then went downstairs, got some iced tea and had a cigarette.

When Miss Reed’s 14-year-old sister arrived at the house, he ordered her to the basement, where he raped her, stabbed her and slit her wrists and throat.

Powell was convicted and sentenced to death in 2000, but the Virginia Supreme Court overturned the verdict because prosecutors didn’t prove that he tried to either rape or rob Miss Reed.

Thinking he couldn’t be retried, Powell wrote Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert a hate-filled letter detailing the crime, giving him the evidence he needed to prove aggravating circumstances required to get Powell the death penalty.

Powell described how he tried to rape Miss Reed then killed her when she would not comply.

“Since … the Va. Supreme Court said that I can’t be charged with capital murder again, I figured I would tell you the rest of what happened on Jan. 29, 1999, to show you how stupid all of y’all … are,” Powell wrote to Mr. Ebert in October 2001.

He was convicted again in 2003.

Powell did not respond to a letter from the Associated Press.

The Department of Corrections will practice electrocution and lethal injection procedures leading up to July 14 in case Powell changes his mind, spokesman Larry Traylor said.

When 27-year-old Brandon Hedrick chose electrocution in 2006 for raping and killing a young mother, Mr. Kaine gave him up until the last minute to switch to lethal injection. In the end, Hedrick was electrocuted.

Powell would be the first person electrocuted in the United States since June 2008, when James Earl Reed was executed in South Carolina for killing his ex-girlfriend’s parents.

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