23 September 2003 – Joseph Earl Bates

Joseph Earl Bates

Joseph Earl Bates

‘I haven’t really give (sic) it any thought’ said Joseph Earl Bates when asked for his last words.

Amazing really when you find out that Bates had sat stewing for 13 years on North Carolina’s death row, waiting to be extinguished for the brutal murder of Charles Edwin Jenkins.

Jenkins was killed in a reprisal after Bates’s house was broken into and gunshots were fired. In a revenge attack after gunshots had been fired into Bates’s house, the then 22-year-old Bates targeted the unsuspecting victim by offering him a lift home.

Jenkins apparently knew of the incident but maintained that he did not know for sure who’s fired the bullets.

Head case

Once in the car, Bates shoved a shovel into the back of Jenkins’ head three times.

Bates then drove out to a remote campsite and tied the beleaguered man to a tree where he then proceeded to beat information out of Jenkins. Even under duress with the barrel of a gun held to his throat, Jenkins kept saying he was none the wiser. But Bates didn’t believe a bar of it and shot him the neck.

He was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. However the appeals came thick and fast, based on the fact that Bates had suffered a personality change after he was brain damaged. There was also sharp criticism of his defence lawyers. Newspapers such as the ‘Charlotte Observer’ noted that ‘one of his appellate lawyers also suffered from mental problems, quit working on the case and left town’.

Yet, Bates’s confession had been unequivocal that any appeals were denied and he was put to death by lethal injection 13 years on from his original sentence in North Carolina, aged 35.

Also on this day

23 September 1759 – Mary Baker

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