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Tennessee murderer chooses to be put to death by electric chair over lethal injection

Posted at 11:39 AM, Dec 06, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Convicted murderer Lee Hall was executed Thursday night.

Hall was given the choice between dying by three-drug combination or death by 1,750 volts of electricity. He chose the electric chair and was pronounced dead at 7:26 p.m.

Hall was convicted of killing his estranged girlfriend Traci Crozier in 1991 in Chattanooga by setting her car on fire while she was still inside.

The first execution witness to speak was Crozier's sister. By her side was a few other family members as she read a statement.

"The day has come and gone now, the day my family has waited on for 28 years. Now our family's peace can begin but another family's hell has to begin. Today will not bring my sister and my father's daughter back, but now may she find her peace in heaven with our mom. She will always be greatly missed by her family and everyone who knew her. But hopefully today an end to this monster's life will bring some peace within everyone who has had to suffer over these 28 years without my beautiful sister. We all fought this battle for you Traci and today we won."

A witness said Hall's last words were "People need to learn forgiveness and love make this world a better place."

Each witness described the events of the execution minute by minute – most of them similar – however, a couple of the witnesses said they saw smoke or steam coming from Hall's head, which is not a usual thing to see during this type of execution.

WTVF spoke to defense attorney Kelly Henry after the press conference who said the smoke was likely a sign of burning flesh or burning sponge and is not supposed to happen during the execution.

Lastly, one of Hall's attorneys read a statement from Lee and his family.

Lee Hall's Statement:

"I'm sorry for the pain I caused gene and all of Traci's family. I ask for your forgiveness and I hope and pray that someday you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I'm sorry for the pain I've caused my brother David and my mother and my family. I hope this brings peace and I don't want them to worry about me anymore."

Hall Family Statement:

"We are devastated by the loss of Traci and now Lee. Lee loved Traci more than anything and we welcomed her into our family and love her too. We also love Lee and wish that we could have changed the events of that tragic day. Lee did not intend to cause her death nor the pain she endured. He admitted the truth and accepted his punishment. He also accepted Jesus Christ and only wishes for the Crozier family to accept his sincere apology and hopes they find the peace and closure they so deserve. Lee and his family want to extend a "thank you" to all the prison staff and inmates in Unit 2 for all their support and assistance to Lee through the loss of his vision. We also want to thank all the attorneys and staff who represented him. We deeply appreciate the love and kindness that our friends and church members have shown us for keeping us in your prayers through these difficult times. Now we have all lost, but we find peace knowing that they are both with the Lord."

Hall was the second blind person executed in the United States since the country reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the Associated Press reported. He had sight when he entered prison, but later became functionally blind from improperly treated glaucoma.

The inmate chose a Philly cheesesteak, two orders of onion rings, a slice of cheesecake and a Pepsi for his last meal.

Earlier this week, the Tennessee Supreme Court denied Hall's request for a stay of execution.

Read more: Tennessee Supreme Court denies stay of execution request for Death row inmate Lee Hall

The request centered around possible bias of a juror who helped hand down the original death sentence in the 90s.

In Tennessee, the state's primary execution method is lethal injection, however inmates who were convicted of crimes before 1999 can choose electrocution.

This story was originally published by Rebekah Pewitt and Caroline Sutton at WTVF.