Brundidge man goes to electric chair

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 4, 2000

Staff Report

Feb. 3, 2000 8 PM

A Brundidge man set to die in Alabama’s electric chair this morning fought his fate until the last moment.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

On Wednesday, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals denied Robert Lee Tarver Jr.’s stay of execution.

The appeal made by Tarver’s attorney, Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, claimed the state’s electric chair is cruel and unusual punishment.

Tarver was scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. for the 1984 murder of Russell County store owner Hugh Kite.

The 52-year-old Pike County native was found guilty of shooting Kite several times and stealing his victim’s wallet as Kite was locking up his business for the night.

Stevenson said Tarver has asked Gov. Don Siegelman for clemency based on his belief blacks were excluded from the jury that convicted him.

Tarver’s attorney said he will appeal to the United States Supreme Court, if necessary.

In October, the issue of whether the electric chair violates an inmates Eighth Amendment right was put before the nation’s highest court because of a Florida case.

Last year, Florida changed its primary means of execution to lethal injection. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush signed a bill giving death row inmates the right to choose electrocution if they prefer.

Alabama Prison Commissioner Mike Haley has witnessed three executions and doesn’t believe Alabama has the same problems Florida has reported.

He recently said Alabama’s "Yellow Mama" has a record that should withstand challenge in federal court.

"Based on what I have seen and experienced, I’m convinced it’s a very quick and seemingly painless method," Haley said. "Death appears to be instantaneous."

Action taken by Florida, leaves Alabama, Georgia and Nebraska as the only states which use the electric chair as the death penalty.

Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor and Siegelman have stated they only want the legislature to allow lethal injection if federal courts declare the electric chair unconstitutional.

State Rep. Bill Fuller, D-LaFayette, is sponsoring legislation that would keep the electric chair until it is declared unconstitutional. The legislation will automatically change the means of state execution to lethal injection without further action by the legislature.

Tarver’s execution is the second of three scheduled for early this year.

David Ray Duren, 37, died in the state’s electric chair on Jan. 7 for the robbery and shooting death of a Jefferson County teen. Kathleen Bedsole, 16, was murdered in 1983.

Freddie Lee Wright, 48, is supposed to be executed on March 3. The state’s second-longest-serving death row inmate was convicted of robbing and killing Warren and Lois Green in 1977. The Greens were murdered at their auto parts store in Mobile County.