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Ohio Inmate Pleads for His Life Until the End

From Associated Press

A murderer whose claims of mental retardation were rejected by the courts was executed Wednesday after struggling with guards and pleading for his life until the last moment.

Lewis Williams, 45, was put to death by injection for fatally shooting a 76-year-old woman during a robbery at her Cleveland home in 1983.

Four guards were needed to lift the 117-pound Williams from his knees and pry his hand off the edge of a table before carrying him into the death chamber. As he was strapped to the execution table he cried, “I’m not guilty. God, help me.”

At least nine guards restrained him as they prepared his arms and inserted needles. One guard standing at his head alternately restrained him and patted his right shoulder to comfort him.

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Williams repeatedly shook his head and tried to lift himself off the preparation bed. He yelled several times, then rested his head and spoke, appearing to whisper or chant quietly.

Williams kept pleading even as the warden pulled the microphone away after his final official statement: “God, please help me. God, please hear my cry.” He was pronounced dead at 10:15 a.m.

His mother, Bonnie Williams, 66, sobbed in an adjacent room separated by a window.

It was the first time witnesses in Ohio saw members of the execution team insert the needles that delivered the lethal drugs into the inmate’s arms.

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The decision by the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to allow the process to be viewed settled a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, said prisons system director Reginald Wilkinson.


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