2017-09-18 11:19:22 UTC
Now and then: Lake's 1st legal hanging
Earlier this month, Gov. Rick Scott set the date for the 1st execution in 18
months. Convicted killer Mark James Asay's execution was rescheduled for Aug.
27. He is 1 of 2 death row inmates whose executions were put on hold after the
U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's death penalty sentencing system as
unconstitutional in January 2016.
Asay was convicted of 2 murders in 1988 in downtown Jacksonville. He was put to
death under a new, untested lethal injection protocol.
Ted Cassady, a former Lake County Tax Assessor, told the Lake County Historical
Society in 1985 the story of how he almost witnessed Lake's 1st legal hanging.
The quick thinking by an aunt waylaid the plans of then 6-year-old Ted Cassady
to view Lake County's 1st legal hanging. Jake Williams was sentenced "to be
hanged by the neck until dead" at 11:30 a.m. on April 4, 1913, within the
enclosure of the Lake County Jail. He had been convicted for the premeditated
murder of G.C. Lowe, a Mascotte turpentine operator, only 4 months earlier.
"I slipped off from school to go to the hanging and was coming by my aunt's
place," Cassady told the audience.
His aunt, Cora Long, was in the yard and asked young Cassady where he was
"Well, I'm going to the hanging," the youngster replied.
"You are? Do your folks know you're going?" Aunt Cora asked.
And Cassady answered, "No, not yet."
She shrewdly replied, "Well, come on in. I've got some fresh donuts I'll give
Receiving goodies from Aunt Cora was nothing new for Cassady.
"Generally, when I was coming in town, she was in the yard," he said. "Or if
she saw me she would call me in to give me some crackers or a cookie or a piece
of cake or something, so I looked forward to that when I was coming to town."
Cassady thought nothing of it as he walked into the house - until his aunt shut
and locked the door. So Cassady missed the hanging.
About 100 people, including 20 official witnesses, watched as Lake County
Sheriff Thad C. Smyth, who stood almost 7 feet tall, tripped the lever that
opened the trap door of the gallows, according to retired Leesburg High School
teacher Bill Hayes.
An 8-foot-high wooden fence around the base of the gallows kept onlookers from
seeing as Williams plunged to his death.
Hayes has a copy of the death warrant signed by Gov. Park Trammell on March 21,
1913. It had several errors, according to Hayes. It identified G.G. Lowe as
C.G. Lowe, G.C. Lowe and also C.C. Lowe.
According to Hayes, Williams shot Lowe twice in the head at a party that got
out of hand. The party was at the home of Jolly Lane, another turpentine
worker. Lane rented his home from Lowe. When Lowe arrived to restore order, he
The hanging took place at the Lake County Jail, then located at the site of the
Lake Region citrus packing plant. The jail was behind Lake County's 2nd
courthouse, called the old Pioneer Building.
The gallows were probably built by inmates of the jail, according to Hayes.
"It took about 2 days to build and a lot of the work was done by inmates," said
Hayes. "That was true virtually nationwide."
The next legal hanging in Lake County took place 10 years later.
John Lawrence Revels died on Nov. 23, 1923 for a double murder committed almost
a year earlier, on Dec. 9.
"He killed his wife and a brother," Hayes said of Revels. "He caught them in
After the 2nd legal hanging in 1923, convicted murderers in Florida died by
electrocution at Raiford Prison.
Ted Cassady did witness the 2nd hanging, along with about 150-200 others,
according to Cassady.
His father, Balton A. Cassady, was Lake County's sheriff at that time. "I saw
that," Cassady said. "Of course they had a blind around him, but there was a
big crowd there. And I imagine if they had hangings today there'd be a big
crowd there now." Cassady remembered the scaffold was built behind the jail,
where he and a friend, Bill Freeman, would go down every day and hang an old
stump that weighed about 150 pounds. "After this hanging they tore it all down
and that was the last one," Cassady said.
Film offers powerful meditation on the death penalty
"Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2" is one of the most sobering and powerful
documentaries about a political issue I've seen in years.
It's no Michael Moore-style propaganda film. Nor are the sing-song title and
the fact that it was produced by a French company reliable clues to the subject
The film follows one woman's journey to examine her role as a juror in a
Mississippi death penalty case.
There's no inmate whose life we can advocate for. He was executed years ago.
And there's no hint that maybe the system got the wrong man, something the
wonders of DNA forensics might overturn. Bobby Glen Wilcher, at the age of 19,
most certainly slashed 2 women to death along a wooded road where he lured
them. He barely knew the women and never expressed a shred of regret for their
murders. Not in the 24 years that he was on Mississippi's death row before
being executed in 2006.
Lindy Lou Wells Isonhood is a conservative grandmother who, along with 11 other
jurors, helped make the unanimous decision in the capital murder case. The film
follows along as she tracks down the other jurors 22 years later to find out if
they are as disturbed by what had happened as she has been.
Or as she says in the film, "I couldn't let it go."
"I can't say that I'm totally against the death penalty," she said as the film
toured Missouri, where it premiered and is now touring, with plans eventually
to show overseas.
In the documentary, you watch her driving backcounty roads where poverty is
rife, and you glimpse the sprawling, manicured lawns of better-heeled jurors.
All of their views are represented as told to Isonhood.
She's perturbed by the male juror who can't seem to recall much about the trial
at all, as if he was asleep and unaware of the gravity of his vote condemning a
man to death by lethal injection. One juror did a "180 flip" from her decision
after she survived cancer and began to value every moment of her own life, and
that of others. And she's relieved to find the foreman who shares her deep
thoughts and self-doubts.
This is how she sums up her philosophy on capital punishment: "I'm not here to
force anybody to change their mind. You have to vote your own moral conscience.
But just don't go in there blind, dumb and happy."
That's how she would describe where she was when she joined the jury at the age
of 42. "Inadequate," she says, to describe her fitness to make such a weighty
At the time, she thought that there was no chance that Wilcher could have
gotten life without parole. She thought there was a chance that he could be set
free and she didn't want that on her conscience either.
10 years after the trial Isonhood sought the convicted murderer out, meeting
him face to face four times. They became friends. She learned about his family
and met them, too.
She learned the dire stories of Wilcher's youth, about his abusive, alcoholic
father and his time as a teenager at a juvenile detention center, where he was
raped. She learned about his troubled marriage. Besides his attorney, Isonhood
was his only visitor. His mother was in prison for selling prescription drugs
when her son was executed.
Isonhood felt empathy, but also revulsion for his actions. The women were
stabbed more than 20 times each.
Most people know they will never personally face the question of sentencing
another man or woman to death. Even if they live in one of the 31 states with
the death penalty, capital punishment is under siege - a bit like abortion
nowadays. States are waging protracted legal battles to keep secret the
compounding pharmacies that mix the lethal concoctions used in executions. If
the suppliers become known, they risk massive public backlash and boycotts.
Executives and the pharmacists involved become pariahs, like abortion doctors.
But activists hounding capital punishment into oblivion isn't the same as
society coming to terms with the moral dimension of enshrining the death
penalty in law.
And that's the power of "Lindy Lou, Juror Number 2." Isonhood calmly asks
people to think about the death penalty deeply, to examine how they might feel
if faced with condemning another human being to death. Their meditations on
life, death and justice are raw and direct - and necessary for all of us to
(source: Mary Sanchez is an opinion-page columnist for The Kansas City Star)
Van Wert murder trial starts Monday
A murder case with capital punishment implications is scheduled to begin Monday
in Van Wert Common Pleas Court.
Jury selection will get underway Monday morning in the trial of Christopher
Peters, 27, of Delphos, who is facing the death penalty after being charged
with aggravated murder in the death of an infant.
Peters has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault
and endangering children in the death of 15-month-old Hayden Ridinger. The
child was found dead inside an apartment Nov. 15 at 24249 Lincoln Highway.
The child's mother, 24-year-old Valerie Dean, faces involuntary manslaughter
and child endangerment charges in connection with the infant's death.
Peters' attorneys, including William Kluge, of Lima, have filed several motions
with the court in recent months concerning the questionnaire for potential
jurors, which was altered after the defense argued jurors should have more
space to express their views on capital punishment. The new questionnaire will
provide potential jurors with more response lines on the death penalty
question, Judge Martin Burchfield said in June.
2 weeks have been set aside for Peters' trial.
Trial date set for Ohio man charged with killing 2 women
A 2018 trial date has been set for an Ohio man charged with abducting and
killing 2 women.
Shawn Grate has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated murder and
kidnapping in the deaths of 29-year-old Elizabeth Griffith and 43-year-old
Stacey Stanley. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
Police arrested Grate in September 2016 after finding the women's bodies in an
Ashland home where another woman said she was held captive.
Investigators say Grate admitted killing at least 2 other women elsewhere.
The Ashland Times-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/2feIt5M ) a judge has set an
April 9, 2018, trial date for Grate.
? Grate's attorneys aren't permitted to comment because of a judge's gag order.
(source: WHIO news)
A service courtesy of Washburn University School of Law www.washburnlaw.edu
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