Witnessing Executions

Frank Green *

In the office early one morning in 1999 and groggy from working late the night before, I was checking my voicemail when I was jarred by a familiar voice.

The message was from Andre L. Graham, a man I had watched die a few hours earlier.[1] I had reached him on the telephone in recent days at the death house in the Greensville Correctional Center. He had not returned from the dead; the message was a day old. Still, suddenly, I was wide awake.

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* Frank Green has been a reporter with the Richmond Times-Dispatch since 1980 and began covering the death penalty in 1982 with the reporting of the execution of Frank Coppola, Virginia’s first post-Furman execution. The Times-Dispatch has given prominent coverage to every execution in Virginia since.

This symposium essay recaptures the author’s descriptions of past executions in Virginia. To maintain accuracy, the author used past articles he wrote right after executions in addition to his memory.

[1].    See Frank Green, Graham Dies by Injection—He Killed Woman, 20, in Richmond Robbery, Rich. Times-Dispatch, Dec. 10, 1999, at B1; see also Graham v. Commonwealth, 464 S.E.2d 128, 131 (Va. 1995), cert. denied, Graham v. Angelone, 528 U.S. 1058 (1999) (denying the application for stay of execution).