RAIFORD - These are some of the notes I took in the death chamber viewing room starting at 4:00 p.m., the appointed time of Oba Chandler’s execution.
4:00 - The curtain covering the glass partition between the witnesses and the condemned remains is supposed to open, but remains closed. Did Governor Scott have a change of heart? Is Chandler putting up resistance? (We find out later that the execution team had a hard time finding a vein for the I.V. drip line.)
4:04 - Nothing yet. The room of 31 people is utterly silent. Feels like a church service.
4:07 – The curtain rises as in a mini movie theater and there he is. I expect Chandler to be sitting up right in a chair, but he’s laying flat on his back on a gurney with his arms strapped tight and I.V.’s taped to the crook of each arm. He looks old and sick. His eyes are closed and he looks dead already. I wonder for a moment if they carried out the execution beforehand.
4:08 There are only two other people in the death chamber. One is an FDLE officer taking notes. The other is a D.O.C. regional head who acts as “execution team leader”. He picks up the phone that is kept open to the Gov’s office and says a few words.
4:08:30 - Rick Scott apparently does not grant clemency, so the intercom is turned and the team leader says, “Would you like to make a final statement, inmate Chandler?” Chandler, eyes still closed says “no”. It’s startling to hear him speak.
4:09 - Since each of the three drugs are administered through tubes that run into an adjacent room, I can’t see what’s happening, but assume the barbiturate has gone in because Chandler’s mouth opens slightly. He shifts ever so slightly as if to get more comfortable.
4:11 I’m sitting directly behind Hal Rogers, the man who lost his wife and two daughters to Oba Chandler 22 years ago. He’s a farmer wearing an old fashioned western suit and he is as motionless as Chandler I wonder what he’s thinking. He won’t even get to have eye contact with Chandler. Is that a relief or a disappointment?
4:14 – Team leader leans over Chandler and shakes his shoulders, then taps on his closed eyelids. Protocol requires condemned to be asleep before the next two drugs are pumped in. He’s asleep.
4:24 - A white-coated doctor enters the room and checks Chandler’s heartbeat with a stethoscope, then points a flashlight into each eye. He nods to the team leader who announces time of death.
4:25 Team leader gets back on the Governor hotline to announce the death of Oba Chandler at 4:25 pm. It occurs to me that Chandler was just killed in the most humane manner imaginable. He victims died in the most terrifying way imaginable.
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Sunny, dry and humid today with possible record highs today. No rain in sight, but plenty of humidity.