Capital punishment in West Virginia

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Prior to secession from the Confederacy and admission to the Union on June 20, 1863, West Virginia was a part of Virginia. 43 people were executed under Virginia's authority, 112 after statehood.

The first two people executed in the State of West Virginia were Daniel Grogan and Thomas Boice (for murder). After secession, no women have been executed in West Virginia.

The last execution for a crime other than murder (rape) took place on December 6, 1940.

Hanging was an official method until 1949.

In 1949 West Virginia was the last state to adopt the electric chair as its only means of execution. The two first inmates electrocuted were Harry Burdette and Fred Painter. Then-State Delegate Robert Byrd was among the official witnesses during their executions.[1] Byrd recalled this event, stating "It's not a beautiful thing."[2]

Until 1959 102 people were hanged, nine electrocuted and one hung in chains.

The last person executed by West Virginia was Elmer Brunner on April 3, 1959.

No federal executions have taken place in West Virginia,[3] but two were sentenced to death in 2007, George Lecco and Valerie Friend, for the murder of a Federal Informant who was supplying Federal Law Enforcement with information about the Leccos cocaine drug ring. [1] Those verdicts and sentences were overturned in 2009 due to juror misconduct,[4] and the retrials ended with life without parole and 35 years for Lecco and Friend respectively.[5][6]

Along with Iowa,[7] West Virginia became the final pre-Furman state to abolish capital punishment in 1965.[8]

See also


  1. Time Trail, West Virginia, February 1998 Programs
  2. Clarey, Brian (June 2, 2008). "Ten Best: Kennedy/Byrd moments". Yes! Weekly. Retrieved August 20, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Anderson, Justin. "New trial in Mingo drug murder". The West Virginia Record. Retrieved 2 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Lecco Lives". WV Metro News. 5 March 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "UPDATE: Mingo County Woman Sentenced in Slaying of Drug Informant". WSAZ. 27 July 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. NCADP Affiliate: Iowans Against the Death Penalty
  8. NCADP Affiliate: ACLU of West Virginia