Frank Green of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports on Virginia’s execution Thursday night of Terry Jerrell Jackson, 30, for the 2001 rape and murder of an elderly woman. The story focuses on the execution as witnessed by a French reporter, and it excerpts the story written by that reporter:
Jackson lies on a raised gurney fitted with leather straps. Six prison staffers methodically strap him down.
The curtain closes abruptly, and the employees, unseen, insert catheters into each of Jackson’s arms.
Five minutes pass, and the audience is silent. A cough escapes from behind the curtain.
After 10 minutes, the fabric is drawn open, and Jackson is still conscious, his arms crossed over his chest.
The catheters, barely visible, will carry the lethal cocktail of three drugs — an anesthetic, then a muscle paralyzer, and finally potassium chloride to stop respiration — to Jackson’s body.
Jackson’s execution is the first in Virginia this year, and the first in the state to use the anesthetic pentobarbital, which is normally used to euthanize animals.
Several states switched to the drug this year instead of sodium thiopental for their lethal injections after the sole US supplier ceased production.
Jackson’s face is largely hidden by the bulk of his body, but his chest can be seen rising and falling. His toes twitch.
Prison warden George Hinkle looks at Jackson. “Do you have any last words?”
Jackson appears to say “no,” but no one is really sure.
Hinkle steps away, and the injections begin. A clock above the door marks the time: 9:08 pm.
A minute passes, and Jackson’s toes stop twitching. To the witnesses, Jackson looks completely inert.
At 9:14, an official declares, to no one in particular, “the order of the court was carried out.”
Jerry Jackson is dead. The curtain is drawn once again, and the witnesses — some of them shaken — stand up. No relatives of the murder victim are in attendance.
Outside the chamber, in a dark parking lot of the prison, a dark Chevrolet van waits to take delivery of Jackson’s body.