Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Spring Lake Township man witnesses Texas execution

Len Painter of the Grand Haven Tribune (Michigan) Newspaper interviews Doug Tjapkes witnessed the March 20 execution of Charles Anthony Nealy in Texas as Nealy's spiritual advisor:

On Tuesday, Tjapkes returned to Livingston for a final visit with Nealy. At noon, Nealy was transported to Huntsville for his execution. At 3:30 p.m., Tjapkes had his final visit with Nealy.

"He was in great spirits," Tjapkes recalled. Even after Nealy's final appeal was rejected he stayed calm and rational, Tjapkes said. "I left him with a Bible verse."

The execution was supposed to take place at 6 p.m., but technicians couldn't find a suitable vein to administer the lethal chemicals, delaying the execution one hour.

Tjapkes and three other people were in a room designated for family members and friends of the person to be executed. In another room were family members of the victim. Nealy could be seen strapped to a gurney through glass partitions

"He (Nealy) greeted us as we walked in," Tjapkes said. Nealy, in his final statement, spoke for more than four minutes. "He told me, 'Thank you, Doug, for coming all the way from Michigan, and say hi to Marcia.'"

At 7:20 p.m., Nealy was declared dead.
Tjapkes leads INNOCENT, an organization that supports the wrongly convicted or imprisoned.

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