Dead Run: The Shocking Story of Dennis Stockton and Life on Death Row in America

Dead Run: The Shocking Story of Dennis Stockton and Life on Death Row in America

Dead Run: The Shocking Story of Dennis Stockton and Life on Death Row in America

Dead Run: The Shocking Story of Dennis Stockton and Life on Death Row in America

Synopsis

In June, 1983, Dennis Stockton entered death row in Virginia's state penitentiary, convicted of a murder he insisted he had not committed. For the next twelve years he remained there, during which time he helped plan the only successful mass escape from death row in U.S. history (though he ultimately decided not to join the escapees), developed a career as a writer through a diary and newspaper columns, and continually proclaimed his innocence. His explosive diary entries -- published in the (Norfolk) Virginian Pilot -- about life on death row made him a marked man among prisoners and guards alike; this calumny only strengthened his resolve to clear his name. However, despite strong evidence of his innocence, Stockton was executed on September 27, 1995.

Excerpt

The guard at the prison gate was a stern, unsmiling woman who wore a curious name tag on her uniform: F. KAFKA; she greeted a newspaper editor from Norfolk and his colleague who had come to the Virginia penitentiary in Richmond that gloomy day in October 1986 to see a Death Row inmate, Dennis W. Stockton. the guard led the way through a labyrinth of corridors in the dungeonlike building, past other guards and through metal doors that clanged shut behind them. They descended to A-Basement, the site of Virginia's Death Row, where Stockton was now on death watch in a cell not far from the state's electric chair.

The meeting would take place in what seemed to be an old locker room. There were battered metal lockers and a bench where someone, guards probably, had left their lunch pails. a square "window" covered with heavy metal mesh was set in the wall opposite the lockers. Within minutes, Stockton's face filled the small square. He said he had passed the chair on his way to this room. It was hard to make out Stockton's features through the wire mesh as he talked, but there was one thing no visitor ever missed: his pale blue, probing eyes.

Now those eyes burned with anger and frustration. Stockton had grown convinced that the justice system would never give him a fair shake, so he let his appeals lapse, thus "volunteering" for execution later this week. the electric chair had won, Stockton told the editor. He was tossing in his chips. He wanted it to end.

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