Nicholas Ingram electrocuted in 1995.
Thirty one year old Nicholas
Lee Ingram, became the first British born murderer to be executed in the
Ingram was born in
Sawyer answered the door and was confronted by 19 year old Ingram who pushed
past her into the house producing a long-barreled, pearl-handled pistol and
shouted: "Get back in the house or I'll blow your heads off." He took
$60 from her husband and made them walk into the woods. He tied them to a tree
and stuffed a piece of shirt into each of their mouths.
"I like to torture men while their women watch," he said. "It will take two or three days for your bodies to be found and if any of your family finds any evidence to convict me, the most I'll ever get is 30 years. And I'll come back and get them."
He then tied their hands behind their backs and roped them to a tree in the backyard. For the next 30 minutes, he threatened the couple before shooting them.
He shot Mr. Sawyer through the head and as his body slumped, it pulled Mrs. Sawyer down, so that Ingram's next shot only grazed her head.
"I heard a popping sound. I realized it was the air going out of my husband's body," she said.
Mrs. Sawyer feigned death and amazingly neither Ingram or his partner noticed. When they had left she ran for help.
At the subsequent trial, she was able to identify Ingram as the person who had killed her husband and he was thus duly convicted and sentenced to death (ironically, on his 20th birthday).
The Georgia Pardons Board interviewed Mary Sawyer while coming to their decision on Ingram's fate and she told them that she believed he deserved to die for the killing of her husband. "We begged for mercy and we were given none. He was a judge, jury and executioner, all in a matter of minutes. He certainly didn't intend for me to live," she said.
Before Judge Ward granted the temporary stay, prison officials reported that Ingram had declined his last meal and said he did not want his parents present at the execution.
His head and leg had been shaved, and he was held in a cell adjacent to the electric chair.
"He is angry and irritable," a state spokeswoman said just before the stay was announced. "His stare was very intense and struck me as kind of chilling."
The prison authorities were accused of being cruel and inhuman after it was revealed that they had not told Ingram that his execution had been halted by a judge at 5 minutes to 6 local time, an hour and five minutes before Ingram was due to die.
But it was not until , that Ingram's lawyer rang the prison in and broke the news to him.
Prison authorities blamed Ingram's lawyers for putting off the inevitable by spending years in the courts with unsuccessful appeals.
Just a few hours before his death, Ingram was said to have been "cocky and confident" after a federal district judge in
Death finally came after the US Supreme Court denied two further separate requests for a stay of execution. Supreme Court spokeswoman Toni House said none of the 9 high court justices voted to hear the pleas.
On hearing the news that his execution would take place after all, Ingram was described by officials as being "quiet and stone faced".
At , Ingram walked defiantly to the 71 year old electric chair. The execution was observed by 14 witnesses, 6 from the State of
He spat across the chamber at the prison warden when asked if he had a last statement.
He got into the chair himself. He was then secured with leg, arm and chest straps and after being given the opportunity to make his final statement, a black leather hood was also placed over his head containing one electrode while the other was strapped to his calf.
The person who ended Ingram's life will never be known for sure. Three members of the Department of Corrections staff simultaneously pressed different buttons, only one of which activated the electric chair.
Ingram shot back into the chair with a tremendous jolt. His fists, which were already clenched, clenched even tighter. He remained motionless there with fists clenched until the current was turned off. There were no other sounds, no smoke, no sizzling. It was completely silent.
He suffered 4 seconds of a 2,000 volt surge, 7 seconds of a 1,000 volt surge and the remainder of 2 minutes at 208 volts.
The body was left for 5 minutes to cool and then was examined by prison medical officers who confirmed death and then the curtains of the window through which the witnesses viewed the event were closed.
Vicki Gavalas, of the Georgia Department of Corrections, emerged to say: "The order has been carried out. Nicholas Lee Ingram was pronounced dead at "
Ms. Gavalas said that during his last day, Ingram's emotions ranged from "angry and sullen" prior to the 24-hour stay of execution to "cocky and confident" after the stay was ordered. She said he was subdued after learning on Friday afternoon that it had been overturned. In the last hour before his death, Ingram was sullen and defiant.
Shortly before the official pronouncement of his death, a hearse had driven at speed past the gatehouse of the prison to loud cheers from a small group of capital punishment supporters.
Ms Gavalas had earlier explained how the procedure would be carried out. Ingram was to be taken to the chamber 5 minutes before the appointed time, the court order authorizing his death was read out, and he was given the opportunity to say a last prayer or make a final statement. The officials would then leave the room and the execution would then be carried out.
Clive Stafford-Smith (one of Ingram's lawyers) said that shortly before his death, Ingram had asked him to express his "total and utter contempt for this whole system of killing."
He added: "He wasn't the only one who was getting hurt here, it was his family, and he asked me to say he had written a letter to the Sawyers and please not to harass his family anymore.
"He wanted to look forward into another life so he could look out for something better than what had happened in this life which had been so sad."
Emerging from the prison after the execution, Attorney-General Bowers was only sorry that the death sentence was not carried out quicker. He said 75% or more of all Georgians supported its use.
"It was a very solemn business, but it is the law in this state. It is the people's collective judgement that there is no other punishment for some specific crimes," he said.
Mr. Bowers said he had been frustrated by the length of the appeals process which the case had gone through.
"They say that justice delayed is justice denied, our system should work quicker," he said.
Mary Sawyer, waiting with her family and second husband 50 miles away, burst into tears on learning of Ingram's last act of defiance. "There was no change," she said, choking back the words. "Did that surprise you?" her husband asked. "I had hope," she said. "I had hope."
The execution received wide publicity in
It went largely unnoticed in
75-80% of the population of
If ever there were a case for imposing the death penalty, surely this was one. It was the cold blooded torture and murder of an elderly and largely defenseless couple by a couple of young thugs in the course of a robbery. (Even though only Mr. Sawyer actually died, both were intended to die). Ingram is just the sort of criminal that ordinary decent people would most dread. The Sawyers had done nothing to provoke the attack and were merely the unlucky victims who were in the wrong place (their own home) at the wrong time.
In the event, the electrocution of Nicholas Ingram passed off without any problems (and not as predicted by the opponents of capital punishment).
Many would feel that he got what he deserved but why did he have to wait twelve years for it.
This, surely, is the real cruelty of the death penalty as applied in the states with an average wait of over 11 years.
There is strong anti-capital punishment lobby in
Surely if the State is going to put someone to death, with the consent of the majority of its citizens, it should do it as soon as practically possible.