For the first time in 47 years, Tennessee may use the electric chair tomorrow to execute Daryl Holton, reports the Tennessean. State law allows death row inmates who committed murder before 1999 to choose their method of execution – lethal injection or the chair. Holton fatally shot his three sons, ages 12, 10 and 6, and his ex-wife’s 4-year-old daughter in 1997 while the children were visiting him.
His spiritual adviser, Dixie Gamble, said Holton believes he will die instantly and painlessly. Fred Leuchter of Malden, Ma., the man who built the chair in 1989, has asked Gov. Phil Bredesen not to use it, saying it’s been modified in such a way that it will be “tantamount to torture. It’s going to be the most horrible way to die possible,” said Leuchter, who worries the modified chair will take far too long to kill Holton. A correction department spokeswoman said the chair was tested last week. Said Jay Wiechert, an electrical engineer from Fort Smith, Ar., who has worked on electric chairs for many states: “We’ve been using the same technique since over a century ago, 110 years or so. It’s a very well-known science. We’re not doing anything new.”