Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Willie Francis, May 3, 1946 and May 9, 1947

16-year-old Willie Francis was executed not once, but twice for the murder of Doctor Andrew Thomas in St. Martinville, Louisiana which he did not commit. Francis who was a juvenile delinquent had been arrested supposedly with the wallet of Doctor Thomas in his possession. The gun used to kill Doctor Andrew Thomas disappeared from evidence. (The gun had belonged to a deputy sheriff in St. Martinville who had previously threatened to kill Doctor Andrew Thomas and is alleged to have been the real murderer.) Francis's court appointed attorney didn't offer any objections, witnesses or defense. Ultimately, Francis was convicted by an all white jury and judge. His first execution on May 3, 1996 was botched and painfully Francis screamed "Take it off! Take it off! Let me breathe!". The Louisiana Supreme Court argued over his last minute appeal filed by Attorney Bertand DeBlanc, but finally the deciding judge Justice Felix Frankfurter who could break the split voted against his appeal. Later on Justice Frankfurter pleaded for his friend the Governor of Louisiana for a commutation which came too late. Willie Francis was executed again on May 9, 1947.

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