Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Witnessing Steve Henley's Execution

Posted By on Wed, Feb 4, 2009 at 9:40 AM

By Brantley Hargrove

From the moment I found out I was selected as a media witness to an execution, I was filled with misgivings of every sort. My own opinions on capital punishment aside, was watching a man die something I wanted playing on the film projector behind my eyes for who knows how long?

This morning, at roughly 1:15 a.m., I sat in a small, fluorescently lit room with six other media witnesses and several members of Henley's family, along with Stacy Rector, his spiritual advisor. In front of us, like some film screen, was a window covered with black blinds.

When the blinds were drawn, I'll simply say that Henley was not in a state I expected. I guess I'm not sure what I thought he'd be. He was smiling, goofing around, blowing kisses to his daughter, son and sister.

And perhaps most haunting of all, he maintained his innocence right up to the moment he lost consciousness. His proclamations didn't ring hollow. They weren't melodramatic. They were spoken with the understated force of simple fact.

That, more than his families disturbing cries of grief, stayed with me. He died at 1:31 a.m.


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