Young Willie Francis had been charged with the murder of a local pharmacist. When the executioners flipped the switch, Willie screamed and writhed as electricity coursed through his body. It was one day after Willie Francis’ eighteenth birthday. [2]. The switch would be thrown at 12:08 P.M., but Willie Francis did not die. The electric current flowed, something fritzed, Francis survived. Willie Francis had been charged with murder; his trial had been brief; his death sentence never in doubt. On May 3, 1946, in picturesque St. Martinville, Louisiana, a seventeen year-old black boy was scheduled for execution by electric chair inside of a tiny redbrick jail. After his first botched execution, Francis gave a rare insight into what it felt like to have electricity surge through his body. … On May 3, 1946, Willie Francis, a 17-year-old black teenager prepared for his final moments on earth. “The best way I can describe it is: Whamm! Basic Books. Daniel Rennie is a freelance writer residing in Melbourne, Australia. Bettmann/Getty ImagesWillie Francis reading in his cell. With Danny Glover. Wikimedia Commons Willie Francis, the “teenager who was executed twice.”. Posted by 7 years ago. Subsequently, Willie Francis was executed at 12:05pm (CST) on May 9, 1947. The crime: He allegedly killed a white man in his hometown, St. Martinville, La.—and not just any white man, but Andrew Thomas, the well-liked pharmacist. He was a juvenile offender sentenced to death at age 16 by the state of Louisiana in 1945. Discount books. Francis supposedly murdered 53 year old pharmacist Andrew Thomas in St. Martinville, Louisiana in 1944. The electric current flowed, something fritzed, Francis … Execution of Willie Francis Race Murder & the Search for Justice in the American South by Gilbert King available in Hardcover on Powells.com, also read synopsis and reviews. The switch would be thrown at 12:08 P.M., but Willie Francis did not die. After the chair failed, it was discovered that “Gruesome Gertie” had been set up incorrectly. Produced by regional film director/producer Glen Pitre, the film includes first hand accounts of Francis' original trial, interviews with Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, a book about the death penalty, and Gilbert King, aut… They say I said, “Take it off! DeBlanc had been best friends with Thomas and his decision was greeted with dismay by the citizens in the small Cajun town. A few weeks later they had their man – Willie Francis. . Buy a cheap copy of The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder, and the Search for Justice in the American South by Gilbert King 046500265X 9780465002658 - A gently used book at a great low price. Take it off! In fact, the gun linked the deputy to the murder. View on timesmachine. In the 2008 case, Baze v. Rees, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Kentucky’s lethal injection protocol. The chair shuddered and slid across the floor. Willie Francis (January 12, 1929 – May 9, 1947) is best known for surviving a failed execution by electrocution in the United States. On May 9, 1947, Willie Francis was executed in the same electric chair that he had walked away from a year and a week earlier, when a drunken prison guard and trustee bungled the wiring. The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder, and the Search for Justice in the American South. DeBlanc took Francis' case to the Supreme Court in Francis v. Resweber, 329 U.S. 459 (1947), citing various violations of his Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. May 9th, 2009 Gilbert King (Thanks to Gilbert King, author of The Execution of Willie Francis (), for the guest post, the second of two. Unfortunately, after a shifting of positions between the nine justices, they finally ruled against Francis 5-4. Little did he know that his survival would start a year-long court battle that would take his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, one that would ultimately fail and brand him ‘the teenager who was executed twice.’, Wikimedia CommonsThe electric chair that failed to execute Francis, known as “Gruesome Gertie.”. as the supposedly lethal surge of electricity was being applied. How did Willie Francis become the first person to not die in this particular kind of incident on May 3, 1946, only to ultimately succumb to the same reason fourteen months later? Man Who Tried To Drown Himself Sues Lifeguard Who Saved Him, The World's Most Powerful Active Geyser Keeps Erupting And Scientists Don't Know Why, What Stephen Hawking Thinks Threatens Humankind The Most, 27 Raw Images Of When Punk Ruled New York, Join The All That's Interesting Weekly Dispatch, Willie Francis, the “teenager who was executed twice.”, The electric chair that failed to execute Francis, known as “Gruesome Gertie.”. Young Willie Francis had been charged with the murder of a local pharmacist. After the botched execution, the state planned to execute him a second time. But, Willie Francis wasn’t executed the next week. Produced by regional film director/producer Glen Pitre, the film includes first hand accounts of Francis' original trial, interviews with Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, a book about the death penalty, and Gilbert King, author of The Execution of Willie Francis (2008); and cultural perspective provided by director Allan Durand. Having miraculously survived, Willie was soon informed that the State would try to kill him again in six days. Francis supposedly murdered 53 year old pharmacist Andrew Thomas in St. Martinville, Louisiana in 1944. Willie Sutton, also called Willie the Actor, byname of William Francis Sutton, Jr., (born June 30, 1901, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.—died November 2, 1980, Spring Hill, Florida), celebrated American bank robber and prison escapee who earned his nickname “the Actor” because of his talent for disguises, posing as guard, messenger, policeman, diplomat, or window cleaner to fool authorities. Francis, who was visiting one of his sisters in Port Arthur, was arrested on suspicion of being a drug dealer’s accomplice. But when the police could not connect him to the drug dealer, they began questioning him about the St. Martinsville murder. Willie Francis' life was the subject of a 2006 documentary, titled Willie Francis Must Die Again, written and directed by filmmaker Allan Durand. Instead, he was suddenly thrust onto the front page of the news. His survival was viewed by many as an act of God. But Willie Francis did not die. Willie Francis to Die on May 9. Willie screamed and writhed under his restraints. Legitimate questions existed on whether or not Willie Francis did, indeed, commit the murder. When the executioners flipped the switch, Willie screamed and writhed as electricity coursed through his body. On May 3, 1946 the chair failed to kill Willie Francis. Close. As he was strapped into “Gruesome Gertie,” Louisiana’s electric chair, too scared to say his goodbyes, Francis just clenched his fists and awaited the inevitable moment when the switch would be flicked. Willie Francis had been charged with murder; his trial had been brief; his death sentence never in doubt. [1] He was a juvenile offender sentenced to death at age 16 by the state of Louisiana in 1945 for the murder of Andrew Thomas, a Cajun pharmacy owner in St. Martinville who had once employed him. Young Willie Francis was sentenced to die in the electric chair. He had even threatened to kill Thomas, whom he suspected of trying to have an affair with his wife. With the help of a lawyer friend, he sought to persuade the Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis to grant Francis clemency. When the executioners flipped the switch, Willie screamed and writhed as electricity coursed through his body. He was pronounced dead in the chair at 12:10 p.m. So, DeBlanc (with the help of J. Skelly Wright, then a maritime lawyer in Washington) took Francis’ case to the U.S. Supreme Court. DeBlanc never gave up on Francis. He didn’t want to suffer any more disappointments and said, “I’m ready to die.”. These included violations of equal protection, double jeopardy, and cruel and unusual punishment. Willie Francis (January 12, 1929 – May 9, 1947) is best known for surviving a failed execution by electrocution in the United States. A lot of mystery surrounded the murder weapon. Then, read about some of the worst execution methods of all time. Willie Francis' life was the subject of a 2006 documentary, titled Willie Francis Must Die Again, written and directed by filmmaker Allan Durand. But, when the moment came, something went wrong. At the time, the electric chair was portable and was transported by truck from jail to jail in Louisiana to perform executions. The two executioners responsible – Captain Ephie Foster and an inmate named Vincent Venezia, who worked as an assistant electrician within the Louisiana prison system – had been drinking the night before. What was Willie Francis accused of that sent him to the electric chair? Despite his personal ruling against Francis, Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter was conflicted. What was Willie Francis accused of that sent him to the electric chair? The switch would be thrown at 12:08 P.M., but Willie Francis did not die. During his trial, the court-appointed defense attorneys offered no objections, called no witnesses, and put up no defense. 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