Thursday, January 17, 2013
Virginia man who killed 2 fellow inmates is executed
JARRATT, Va. — A man who strangled his prison cellmate and made good on a vow to continue killing if he wasn't executed was put to death Wednesday in Virginia's electric chair.
Robert Gleason Jr., 42, was pronounced dead by authorities at 9:08 p.m. at Greensville Correctional Center. He became the first inmate executed in the United States this year and the first to choose death by electrocution since 2010. In Virginia and nine other states, death row inmates are allowed to choose between electrocution and lethal injection.
Gleason was serving life in prison for the 2007 fatal shooting of a man when he became frustrated with prison officials because they wouldn't move out his new, mentally disturbed cellmate. Gleason hogtied, beat and strangled 63-year-old Harvey Watson Jr. in May 2009 and remained with the inmate's body for more than 15 hours before the crime was discovered.
"Someone needs to stop it," he told The Associated Press after Watson's death. "The only way to stop me is put me on death row."
While awaiting sentencing at a highly secure prison for the state's most dangerous inmates, Gleason strangled 26-year-old Aaron Cooper through wire fencing that separated their individual cages in a recreation yard in July 2010. As officers tried to resuscitate Cooper — video surveillance shows he had been choked on and off for nearly an hour — Gleason told them "you're going to have to pump a lot harder than that."
Gleason subsequently told the AP in phone interviews that he deserved to die for what he did.
"The death part don't bother me. This has been a long time coming," he said in one of the many interviews from death row. "It's called karma."