Archive for May 10

10 May 2002 – Lynda Lyon Block

Posted in Death penalty, Electric chair with tags , , , on May 10 by Old Sparky

Lynda Lyon Block‘Your eyeballs explode’ said Lynda Lyon Block as she sat waiting for her slot on the electric chair in Alabama. And therein lay the irony – that a former member of the Humane Society should be executed for murder.

But then Block lived a life of extremes. Anti-government, anti-establishment, she even represented herself in a court of law as she stood trial for her crimes. Why? Because she didn’t believe the state was a legal entity, and, as such, none of the laws really held up either. Indeed she believed that Alabama had no rights to prosecute.

But prosecute they did and the facts of the case emerged. Block and her common-law husband George Sibley were on the run, along with her nine-year-old son, for Block had been married and was going through an acrimonious divorce from her husband Karl Block.

Fights over money fuelled an argument that led to a knife being embedded, albeit not deeply, in Karl’s chest. By this time, Sibley was on the scene – indeed the two were lovers and because both Block and Sibley had been there, they were had up for assault.

About a boy

Of course they could have stuck around for sentencing, but they decided to abscond instead and that’s how they found themselves on the run, living out of their car.

A well-meaning bystander saw the nine-year-old child in the car and was concerned for his wellbeing. Unaware that the two adults were heavily armed, the observer told a policeman about the boy. The officer made his way over to the car where Sibley and Block’s son were sat waiting for Block to finish off a phone call.

Block with a Glock

However, in Sibley’s heightened sense of anxiety, a harmless enquiry descended into an armed stand-off. Shots were exchanged. Hearing the noise, Block cottoned on what was happening and was able to take the policeman by surprise. She fired at him with a Glock pistol and when he reached for his car radio, she mistook it for a gun and kept firing.

The injured policeman managed to get in the car and drive off, but the bullet wounds were to prove fatal. The fugitives, on the other hand, got away, but were soon faced with another block – in the shape of a road that was cordoned off.

With fears for her only child, Block managed to hand her son over safely before they themselves surrendered, four hours later after weighing up the options.

Both of them were sentenced to death for the murder of a policeman and both received the death penalty. Just as well really, as by Block’s own admission, ‘If the jury has to choose between death or life in prison, they would be far more charitable to give us death.’

Come to Mama

She was eventually sent to the DIY electric chair dubbed ‘Yellow Mama’, which had been built in 1927 by a previous inmate – a British furniture maker.

Block got the shock of her life – 2,500 volts for 20 seconds to be precise, followed by 250 volts for 100 seconds, and with that Block kicked the bucket, aged 54. She became the first woman to be executed in Alabama since 1957 and the last to die via the electric chair.

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