I have the pleasure of introducing a guest blogger today who has written a number of Five Star/Gale/Cengage mysteries. A former newspaper reporter, Sharon Thetford Ervin has a B.A.
degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. She lives in McAlester, Oklahoma, is
married, has four grown children, and works half-days in her husband and older son’s law
office as probate clerk and gofer. JINGO STREET is Sharon’s eleventh published novel.
And now, here’s
Lethal injections in Oklahoma are considered the most
humane way to dispose of evil-doers. In both centuries
before we hanged bad guys (and dolls) in Oklahoma, or
used firing squads. Later we invented and used an electric chair, affectionately dubbed by the press, “Old Sparky.”
Eventually, however, as media coverage expanded and taxpayers began to feel personally responsible for executions, we decided capital punishment would be more humane if we restrained a miscreant and injected chemicals to snuff him or her.
The Bible says we are to put habitual evil-doers “away from us.” Death, of course, is the ultimate putting away. As a newspaper reporter, I covered several trials of people who were accused of and proven to have committed atrocities against fellow human beings.
Once in private, after a devout Christian judge pronounced the death sentence, I asked if speaking those words––"I hereby sentence you to die by lethal injection"––troubled him? He said, “Not at all.”
The convicted man had murdered––mostly women––on three different occasions. Twice the man’s attorney convinced juries that the accused was insane at the time he committed those acts. Twice jurors ordered him committed to the state department of mental health. When he had completed treatment and his sanity pronounced restored, he returned to society where he murdered another female. The trial I covered was for his third. Again he went with the tried and true insanity plea. The third time, however, was not a charm.
Several of the people on Oklahoma’s death row are strong physical specimens. It occurred to me that ailing folks might benefit from those healthy retinas, tissue, hearts, lungs, livers, etc. Poisoning a whole person by lethal injection seemed wasteful.
I didn’t mention those thoughts to anyone at first, afraid the theory might sound Frankenstein-ian. However, the more I thought about it, the better the idea seemed. Killing a healthy, physically viable sociopath was like throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
I theorized some with law enforcement personnel, all of whom scowled. After thinking it over, some said a lethal injection destroys organs and probably renders other parts unusable. One thoughtful fellow mused that harvesting organs from a living donor probably would not be legal.
When an Oklahoma inmate did not die on the table after receiving the lethal injection in April (2014), some suggested we return to one of our prior methods of capital punishment. Hanging would leave most organs and living tissue usable. A firing squad or "Sparky," probably not so much.
My writer’s imagination began plotting a story in which a personable, handsome, prime physical specimen murderer became enchanted with a lovely, naive young lawyer, and she with him.
Attorney Anne Krease, 22, grew up like a hothouse orchid, protected, sheltered, and naive. Under normal circumstances, these two should never have met. When they do, however, the chemistry between them is volatile. Tempestuous. Turbulent.
Writers read the same news stories everyone else does. We process them differently. JINGO STREET is a product of reality mingled with my imaginings.
your thoughts and comments. Sharon