5 March 1993 – Robert Sawyer

‘Drinking and handing (sic) with the wrong people will get you where I am sitting’ said Robert Sawyer in a statement right before he was executed.

The American murderer was put down by lethal injection in Louisiana for killing Frances Arwood. He was the first inmate put to death by lethal injection in Louisiana.

Fists ‘n’ cuffs

As a child, Sawyer, his twin sister and an older sister were left in the hands of their violent dad after their mother committed suicide in Tennessee. His twin sister went to live with an aunt, so she safely escaped the brutality. Sawyer, sadly didn’t fare so well. His dad used him as a punchbag, often hitting him with whips, as well as his bare fists.

As he grew older, Sawyer showed signs of mental instability and was being treated by pyschiatrists by his early teens. Indeed, allegations about Sawyer’s mental capacity were made after his conviction.

Old Sparky setback

According to the lawyer who represented Robert Sawyer, they’d just done a investigation into the electric chair used on Louisiana prisoners and it was found to be defective – those executed on it often showed signs of severe burns. He used this to gain Sawyer a stay of execution, while the defects were investigated.

An experiment was carried out using a wooden skull, with a saline-soaked chamois leather. The skull caught fire as soon as the current was turned on. Thing is Sawyer saw the video too and realised that was what was in store for him too.

He managed to get several stays of execution between 1991 and 1993. And while he was not able to evade death, Sawyer was able to escape the clutches of Old Sparky. Instead he was put to death by lethal injection and he died on this day in 1993.

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