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May 26, 1979 - Image 11

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1979-05-26

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The Michigan"Doily--Soturday, May 26, 1979-Pagei '1
Spenikelink executed yesterday
(Continued from Page Q

door to the private office of Gov. Bob
Graham that aides feared it would bur-
st open.
But the door held and Graham
remained secluded, rejecting a
telephone call from a woman iden-
tifying herself as Lois Spenkelink, the
condemned man's ailing 67-year-old
Opponents of the death penalty had
regarded Gilmore's execution as a
fluke, since he taunted authorities and
said he wanted to die. But Spenkelink
fought his execution with every legal
weapon at his command virtually up to
the hour of his death, and opponents of
capital punishment predicted his death
would trigger a rash of executions
among the nearly 500 people on the
death rows of prisons across the nation.
Five times Spenkelink took his case
before the U.S. Supreme Court, and five
times he lost. The final ruling that
sealed Spenkelink's fate came at 9:50
a.m., just minutes before his execution.
SPENKELINK GAVE to his friend
and spiritual adviser, Rev. Tom Feam-
ster, what he intended to be his last
"Man is what he chooses to be. He
chooses that for himself," he wrote.
"The last thing he said was .that he
loved me ... We shook hands," Feam-
ster said.
Ramsey Clark, one of Spenkelink's
defense attorneys, called the execution
"a tragic moment in our history as we
rejoin the nations that seek to control
populations by killing.
"I believe that the imperative need of
our time is a reverence for life," he
said. "Any person's death does
diminish us all. I would hope Anerica
would soon abandon this barbaric prac-
Although Spenkelink was white, foes
of the death penalty say it is used most
often against minorities. A black
prisoner, Willie Jasper Darden, Jr.,
had originally been scheduled to die
with Spenkelink, but he won a stay.
"IT'S A TERRORIST attack on the
part of government against poor

minorities all over the country," said
attorney Millard Farmer, a long-time
opponent of capital punishment who
fought to save Spenkelink through a
federal court in Atlanta.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down
death penalty laws in 1972 and Florida
was the first state to write a new one.
Now 32 states have death penalty
statutes and two more take effect July
"They (Florida officials) might kill .
130 in the next year," Farmer told a
newsman bitterly just moments after
Spenkelink died. "From what I've seen
in the past few days, if their appetite
continues, they possibly will."
that Florida Attorney General Jim
Smith had flown to New Orleans and
Washington in a state plane getting the
federal courts to dissolve the stays of
execution which they issued in
Spenkelink's case.
The Florida attorney general said
nothing personal was involved in his ef-
forts to have Spenkelink put to death.
He said he simply was carrying out his
job for the state of Florida, and if the
federal courts did not want executions
in the United States, they should so in-
form the states so other appropriate
laws could be devised.
Spenkelink became the 197th person
and the first in 15 years to die in
Florida's 55-year-old electric chair. The
state still has 133 on death row.
HE WAS EXECUTED for the 1973
murder of Joseph Szymankiewicz, an
Ohio parole violator, in a Tallahassee
motel. Spenkelink had picked up Szy-
mankiewicz in Nebraska while
Szymankiewicz was hitchhiking
through a snow storm. He said he killed
Szymankiewicz because Szymankie-
wicz sodomized him, robbed him of
$8,000 and forced him to play Russian
roulette with a loaded gun.
Gov. Graham gave the final order at
10:11 on an open telephone line to prison
Superintendent David Brierton: "Go
ahead. There are no stays at this time.
May God be with us," Graham said.
In Tallahassee on Tuesday, Graham
told a state representative who
delivered a statement of support signed
by 120 House members that the people
must realize the signing of death
warrants is going to be "a routine part
of our daily lives from now on."

Top, Carol Spenkelink, sister of condemned murderer John Spenkelink,
stands to the right of demonstrators outside of Florida State Prison, while
her brother is executed in the prison's electric chair. Below, sign-carrying
protesters mnarch outside the U.S. Supreme Court building yesterday mor-
ning, demonstrating against the death sentence the nine-member court han-
ded Spenkelink.
Sunday, May 27 Aud. A, Angell Hall
(BIttLY WItLDER, 1970)
ROBERT STEPHENS plays probably the best screen Holmes to date. In this
"private" episode, the cocaine-using misogynist finds himself in the midst of
international intrigue-and falling for a beautiful, mysterious blonde woman
(Genevieve Page). Lush photogrpahy and great acting have made this film a
cult-classic. (125 min.)7:3089:40
Cinema 11 Is now accepting new member applications.
Pick them up at all Cinema 11 film showings.
Saturday, May 2b Aud. A, Angell Hall
The best version of this thrice made film, the combination of JUDY GARLAND,
as the woman whose stardom destroys her husband, and GEORGE CUKOR, as
director, is just about perfect. Garland, at the peak of her career, does full
justice to the music of composers Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin. With a great
supporting performance by JAMES MASON. (154 min.) 7:00 & 9:40
Cinema It is accepting new member applications--Pick
them up at all Cinema II film showings.


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