Inmate set to die by electric chair

By Laura Geller - bio | email

JARRATT, VA (WWBT) - Virginia is set to execute another inmate Tuesday night; exactly one week after the D.C. sniper was put to death. This execution, however, will be a little different.  Convicted killer Larry Elliott has opted to die by electrocution. Elliott was found guilty in the 2001 shooting death of Dana Thrall in Dale City.

When he is put to death Tuesday night, Larry Elliott will be the fifth Virginia inmate to die in the electric chair since 1995, when the Commonwealth started giving those on death row a choice of how they'll be killed.

It's one of the last things an inmate will ever decide. Since it was added as an option, 76 of them have chosen, or by default have ended up with, lethal injection. Larry Bill Elliott made his decision about two months ago. He's scheduled to die, strapped in the electric chair, for murdering a 25-year old woman in Dale City.

NBC 12 legal expert Steve Benjamin says there are many reasons the condemned make their choices.

"The fear that many inmates have is that death by lethal injection is in reality death by paralysis and suffocation. There's been a tremendous amount of discussion about the question of whether the death is truly as peaceful as it may seem," he said.

The electric chair is designed to give two surges of voltage lasting a minute and a half each. Benjamin says it certainly makes a statement.

"They want us to witness the fact of death and not be shielded by the fact that we are executing someone by the appearance of someone who looks like they may have just gone to sleep," Benjamin said.

The US Supreme Court refused to block Elliott's execution. His fate now lies in the hands of Governor Kaine. With all appeals exhausted, the governor is the only one who can halt Tuesday's death sentence at Greensville Correctional Center.

As a side note, seven other states allow inmates to choose between lethal injection and the electric chair, two states still hang the condemned and only Utah will execute by firing squad.

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