how did willie francis die

Produced by regional film director/producer Glen Pitre, the film includes first hand accounts of Francis' original trial, interviews with Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, a book about the death penalty, and Gilbert King, aut… One of them claimed to have seen a car’s headlights in Thomas’ driveway. It’s unlikely a poor black teenager had access to a car. I could feel my arms jumping at my sides … I thought for a minute I was going to knock the chair over…I thin… Basic Books. Then, read about some of the worst execution methods of all time. Read the first here.). Little did he know that his survival would start a year-long court battle that would take his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, one that would ultimately fail and brand him ‘the teenager who was executed twice.’, Wikimedia CommonsThe electric chair that failed to execute Francis, known as “Gruesome Gertie.”. Police claimed that he was carrying Thomas' wallet in his pocket, though no evidence of this claim was submitted during the trial. DeBlanc had a difficult battle ahead of him. DeBlanc had been best friends with Thomas and his decision was greeted with dismay by the citizens in the small Cajun town. He was found guilty for the murder of Andrew Thomas, a Cajun pharmacy owner in St. Martinville who had once employed Francis. Willie Francis (January 12, 1929 – May 9, 1947) is best known for surviving a failed execution by electrocution in the United States. The electric current flowed, something fritzed, Francis … Miller, Arthur S. and Jeffrey Bowman. See the article in its original context from May 1, 1947, Page 27 Buy Reprints. Young Willie Francis had been charged with the murder of a local pharmacist. In the 2008 case, Baze v. Rees, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Kentucky’s lethal injection protocol. Francis later directed the police to where he had disposed of the holster used to carry the murder weapon. Free shipping in the US. Willie Francis had been charged with murder; his trial had been brief; his death sentence never in doubt. The US Supreme Court rejected the appeal. The Court quoted witnesses of the first execution: '' . Daniel Rennie is a freelance writer residing in Melbourne, Australia. Wikimedia CommonsAssociate Justice Felix Frankfurter of the United States Supreme Court, who attempted to get Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis to grant Willie Francis clemency. Willie Francis is best remembered for getting out of the electric chair, shaken but alive, minutes after being strapped into it. Execution of Willie Francis Race Murder & the Search for Justice in the American South by Gilbert King available in Hardcover on Powells.com, also read synopsis and reviews. As he was strapped into “Gruesome Gertie,” Louisiana’s electric chair, too scared to say his goodbyes, Francis just clenched his fists and awaited the inevitable moment when the switch would be flicked. TIL that in 1946, the electric chair failed to kill Willie Francis, who subsequently filed suit claiming that he had been executed even though he did not die, and should be a free man based on 'double jeopardy' laws in the 5th amendment. He told reporter Elliott Chaze a couple of days prior to the execution that he was going to meet the Lord with his "Sunday pants and Sunday heart." Bettmann/Getty ImagesWillie Francis reading in his cell. Subsequently, Willie Francis was returned to the electric chair on May 9, 1947. His murder remained unsolved for nine months, but in August 1945, Willie Francis was detained in Texas due to his proximity to an unrelated crime. Zst!” he said. These included violations of equal protection, double jeopardy, and cruel and unusual punishment. “It felt like a hundred and a thousand needles and pins were pricking in me all over and my left leg felt like somebody was cutting it with a razor blade. I could feel my arms jumping at my sides … I thought for a minute I was going to knock the chair over…I think I must have hollered for them to stop. William Francis Sutton Jr. (June 30, 1901 – November 2, 1980) was an American bank robber. [1] He was a juvenile offender sentenced to death at age 16 by the state of Louisiana in 1945 for the murder of Andrew Thomas, a Cajun pharmacy owner in St. Martinville who had once employed him. When the executioners flipped the switch, Willie screamed and writhed as electricity coursed through his body. Could Louisiana now, in good faith, put this black teenager to death? The media coverage also drew unwanted attention towards the way African Americans were treated in the Louisiana court system. Willie Francis had been charged with murder; his trial had been brief; his death sentence never in doubt. “The best way I can describe it is: Whamm! What was Willie Francis accused of that sent him to the electric chair? Willie Francis to Die on May 9. Having miraculously survived, Willie was soon informed that the State would try to kill him again in six days. The electric current flowed, something fritzed, Francis survived. Furthermore, Thomas’ neighbors were woken by gunshots on the night of the murder. … Thomas was found shot five times at close range just outside of his home. Over the next year, he would appeal Francis’ death sentence. Unfortunately, after a shifting of positions between the nine justices, they finally ruled against Francis 5-4. The teenager was Willie Francis, the youngest of 13 children in a poor black family living in Louisiana. Willie Francis had been charged with murder; his trial had been brief; his death sentence never in doubt. When Francis was still breathing minutes later, Foster shouted, “I missed you this time, but I’ll get you next week if I have to use a rock!”. DeBlanc never gave up on Francis. Born in a segregated Louisiana, Willie initially confessed to the murder of a pharmacist before eventually pleading guilty. For one, Francis couldn’t even drive. The crime: He allegedly killed a white man in his hometown, St. Martinville, La.—and not just any white man, but Andrew Thomas, the well-liked pharmacist. On May 3, 1946 Willie Francis was strapped into the portable electric chair known as Gruesome Gertie and the switch was thrown. Francis v. Resweber for Eighth Amendment Having miraculously survived, Willie was soon informed that the State would try to kill him again in six days. On May 3, 1946, Francis survived an attempt at execution by the electric chair. In 1944, a St. Martinville man named Andrew Thomas, a pharmacist and the … 1947: Willie Francis, this time successfully. “It felt like a hundred and a thousand needles and pins were pricking in me all over and my left leg felt like somebody was cutting it with a razor blade. Willie Francis had been charged with murder; his trial had been brief; his death sentence never in doubt. Francis, who was visiting one of his sisters in Port Arthur, was arrested on suspicion of being a drug dealer’s accomplice. But when the police could not connect him to the drug dealer, they began questioning him about the St. Martinsville murder. First, he faced the Louisiana Pardons Board on May 31, 1946. Despite DeBlanc’s passionate arguments, Francis was scheduled for another execution on June 7, 1946. After the botched execution, a young lawyer took the case up to the Supreme Court. On May 9, 1947, at 12:05 p.m., Willie Francis died in Louisiana’s electric chair. Upon a proper death warrant, Francis was prepared for execution and on May 3, 1946, pursuant to the warrant, was placed in the official electric chair of the State of Louisiana in the presence of the authorized witnesses. The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder, and the Search for Justice in the American South. The electric chair-three hundred pounds of oak and metal- had been dubbed “Gruesome Gertie” and was moved from one jailhouse to another throughout the state of Louisiana. Instead, he was suddenly thrust onto the front page of the news. His survival was viewed by many as an act of God. The true story of Willie Francis, a sixteen year-old African American with no prior record who was sentenced to the electric chair in 1946... and survived. Francis v. Resweber for Eighth Amendment How did Willie Francis become the first person to not die in this particular kind of incident on May 3, 1946, only to ultimately succumb to the same reason fourteen months later? The portable electric chair known as "Gruesome Gertie" was apparently not set up properly, supposedly by an intoxicated prison guard and an inmate. Documentary Willie Francis was the subject of a 2006 documentary titled "Willie Francis Must Die Again," written and directed by filmmaker Allan Durand. Willie Sutton, also called Willie the Actor, byname of William Francis Sutton, Jr., (born June 30, 1901, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.—died November 2, 1980, Spring Hill, Florida), celebrated American bank robber and prison escapee who earned his nickname “the Actor” because of his talent for disguises, posing as guard, messenger, policeman, diplomat, or window cleaner to fool authorities. He pleaded not guilty, but his white lawyers tried to reverse his plea and then refused to make an opening statement. Appallingly, Francis’ lawyers did not cross-examine witnesses even though the evidence against Francis was dubious at best. Francis initially named several others in connection with the murder, but the police dismissed these claims. Directed by Allan Durand. . But, when the moment came, something went wrong. Francis supposedly murdered 53 year old pharmacist Andrew Thomas in St. Martinville, Louisiana in 1944. The execution had been badly botched and Willie Francis would live to see another day. What was Willie Francis accused of that sent him to the electric chair? In 1944, Andrew Thomas, a pharmacist in St. Martinville, Louisiana, was shot and killed. The validity of Francis' confessions were not questioned by the defense, although he had no counsel at the time. When the executioners flipped the switch, Willie screamed and writhed as electricity coursed through his body. During his trial, the court-appointed defense attorneys offered no objections, called no witnesses, and put up no defense. They say I said, “Take it off! The gun used to kill Thomas was found near the crime scene. He vowed to get him a proper trial after he learned that one of Francis’ original executioners had been drunk when setting up “Gruesome Gertie.” But Francis was denied a new trial. During his forty-year robbery career he stole an estimated $2 million, and he eventually spent more than half of his adult life in prison and escaped three times.For his talent at executing robberies in disguises, he gained two nicknames, "Willie the Actor" and "Slick Willie". Archived. The petitioner, Willie Francis, is a colored citizen of Louisiana. So, DeBlanc (with the help of J. Skelly Wright, then a maritime lawyer in Washington) took Francis’ case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Three weeks after his arrest, Francis found himself in front of a grand jury of white men. View on timesmachine. [2]. Despite their misstep, the executioner was furious at Francis. The electric chair-three hundred pounds of oak and metal- had been dubbed “Gruesome Gertie” and was moved from one jailhouse to another throughout the state of Louisiana. Hiskey, Daven. Young Willie Francis was sentenced to die in the electric chair. Let me breathe!" He was a juvenile offender sentenced to death at age 16 by the state of Louisiana in 1945. When Willie Francis Died: The 'Disturbing' Story Behind One of the Eighth Amendment's Most Enduring Standards of Risk (March 30, 2009). Francis was executed on May 7, 1947, and this second time the chair did not malfunction. Within minutes the police had a signed confession from Francis for the murder, followed by a second confession the next day. The police denied any coercion, though some of the words used were most likely the result of dictation from a policeman. On May 3, 1946, Willie Francis, a 17-year-old black teenager prepared for his final moments on earth. 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