Resurgence of Executions
Unresolved Debate Over Capital Punishment
Alpha Otis Stephens, 39, died strapped to Georgia's varnished oak electric chair shortly after midnight Dec. 12. The execution ended 10 years of appeals following Stephens' 1974 conviction for the murder of Roy Asbell, who was taken to a field and shot twice in the head after interrupting a burglary. Stephens declined to see a chaplain and had no final words. The first two-minute, 2,080-volt electrical charge caused his hooded body to snap forward and his fists to clench, but it failed to kill him. Witnesses saw Stephens struggle for breath in the six minutes allowed for his body to cool from about 140 degrees before doctors examined him and found Stephens still alive. Warden Ralph Kemp ordered ...