Live from San Quentin, it’s the Tookie Williams show.
12:35 AM – Tookie declared dead.
12:39 AM – I’m watching live coverage from the prison, where media is set up in front of a podium and an 8 foot table where I’m guessing the witnesses will sit. Man, watching the camera guys and other various news folk makes me count my blessings that I never followed through with my dream to be a news god. Talk about boring! I feel for these people.
12:45 AM – Witnesses are led in. Speaking now. They’re describing what they saw.
12:47 AM – Witness says the execution didn’t actually begin until 12:22 AM.
12:48 AM – A couple of witnesses gave Tookie a ‘Black Power’ salute. As they left, they yelled out. News media says that’s the first time he ever heard an outbreak like that in the death chamber.
12:50 AM – Witness says the execution seemed like it took longer than it should. At one point, someone thought they heard Williams say, “Are you doing that right?”
12:51 AM – 36 minutes and 15 seconds from the time Williams walked into the death chamber alive to when he was declared dead.
12:53 AM – Williams’ family sat motionless until the very end, when the outburst occurred. Two women and one man were staring at Williams. At one moment they were praying, the next moment they were saluting Williams. He was trying to keep his head up as long as he could. The family was whispering words like “I love you” and “God Bless You”.
12:55 AM – Williams kept his glasses on during the execution process.
12:56 AM – First set of witnesses led out. Next set of 6 witnesses are led in and are now introducing themselves. Talking now. It took up to 18 minutes to get the IV into Williams. He was talking with the attendants during this time.
12:57 AM – Rita Cosby from MSNBC talking now. She says Williams died defiantly. He wouldn’t look at any members of the media for the first 8 minutes. Finally, he did turn his head and look around the room. 3 minutes after the lethal injection, his breathing slowed down dramatically.
12:58 AM – The family shouted, “The State of California just killed an innocent man!”
01:00 AM – More witnesses sharing their experience. Williams’ lawyers smiled periodically at him. He was speaking to the guards. He was somber. Williams’ family tried to talk with him, whispering words to him. As the process began Williams’ breathing was erratic, but later slowed down. Reporter from KNX radio looks shaken as he reads from his notes.
01:02 AM – At 12:13 AM, Williams was clearly exasperated at the length of time passing while prison officials attempt to insert the IV.
01:04 AM – Witness now saying that Williams appeared much older than recent published pictures suggest. He was shocked by the size of Williams and he thought that Williams was sticking his chest out, almost starring down the witnesses in the room.
01:06 AM – New witness claims Williams was extremely active. He says he felt physically ill while he watched the process. He says he had to continually remind himself of what Williams did, and it wasn’t easy to watch. After Williams was strapped in, one of the witnesses yelled out, “Tookie!”. Witness says Williams was a very big guy. He had obviously been working out quite a bit while in prison.
01:08 AM – Question from the assembled media – “Did Williams exhibit any remorse or any fear during the process?” All witnesses say “No.” Williams seemed frustrated more than anything else. Williams tried to intimidate, he tried to control the room. He was not resistant at all. His demeanor was like one who was trying to be proud. He was trying to keep his reputation intact.
01:11 AM – Witnesses leave. Another set of five witnesses now at the microphones, introducing themselves. More sharing. Experiences are very similar from other witnesses. Most of the words Williams was mouthing were inaudible.
01:14 AM – Witness says the most striking thing she saw was the struggle to find a vein to stick the IV. He was quite active. One of the attendants patted his hand on Williams’ chest.
01:18 AM – Yet another witness shares how extraordinary it was that the execution took so long. 10 minutes passed while everyone in attendance waited for an announcement that Williams had died. Question from the gallery – “What was the feeling in the room while everyone waited for the announcement that Williams was dead?” Witness says it was very silent, except for some mechanical noises. Finally, the reading of the death warrant and the time of death was sudden, loud and booming.
01:20 AM – More of the same stories being relayed.
01:22 AM – Final witnesses led out. Now arriving, the prison warden.
01:23 AM – Warden at the podium now, reading prepared statement. Williams spent his last moments meeting with his legal team, along with his visitors. Williams was transfered from visiting to the death ward at 6 PM PST. He refused food, but requested milk and water. He declined to seek a spiritual advisor.
01:25 AM – Warden outlining the “ritual” of what happens during the final hours before execution. Williams didn’t have an official last statement, but did pass along something to family members. Question from the gallery – “Was there anything abnormal about this execution, given the witnesses comments about a struggle to get the IV into Williams?” Warden says nothing was out of the ordinary, other than Williams suggesting to officials where they should place the needle.
01:27 AM – Warden leaves the stage, in the middle of a question from a member of the media.
01:28 AM – No other officials speaking, media now talking amongst themselves. Warden comes back to podium. Taking a few more questions. Funeral director will pick up the body. Warden is not aware of any funeral or service for Williams. For this Warden, Williams’ is the first California execution he’s witnessed.
01:30 AM – Warden says that Rev. Jesse Jackson spent a considerable amount of time with Williams. Warden leaves the stage. A new spokesman is talking now, explaining what security procedures were in effect before, during and after the execution.
The same questions are being asked over again by the media, so the event is essentially over. Justice has been served and I hope there can now be some sense of closure for the surviving family members. – Bill 1:34 AM PST 12/13/2005.