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Last week I spent about an hour at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution with Steve Henley, the convicted double murderer scheduled to die at 1 a.m. Wednesday.
I was genuinely curious how a man so near the state-ordered end would view his own mortality. And judging by today's events
, the end appears likely.
Henley seemed to regard the possibility with a mixture of ambivalence and spirituality.
"The death penalty...I welcome death at this point," Henley said through a sheet of Plexiglass. "It's like my sister said, 'It's like a funeral that never ends."
Then he said, "They can't kill Steve."
Though I haven't spoken with him since the appellate court decision, I hear from Stacy Rector at the Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing that the news "knocked the wind out of him." No doubt he held firmly to the hope that a stay would be granted.
Steve was convicted in 1987 of the shootings of Fred and Edna Stafford in rural Jackson County. From the beginning, he has maintained his innocence.