Blind World Magazine

Legally blind inmate executed.

January 18, 2006.
Associated Press.

San Quentin, Calif.

In the end, California's oldest condemned inmate wasn't quite as feeble as his attorneys made him out to be.

With the help of four big prison guards, Clarence Ray Allen shuffled from his wheelchair to a gurney inside San Quentin's death chamber early Tuesday, a day after his 76th birthday. Though legally blind, Allen raised his head to search among execution witnesses for relatives.

"Hoka hey, it's a good day to die," Allen said in a nod to his Choctaw Indian heritage. "Thank you very much, I love you all. Goodbye."

Doctors had to administer a second shot of potassium chloride to stop his heart.

Allen, condemned for ordering from behind bars a hit that left three people dead, was the second-oldest inmate executed in the United States since capital punishment resumed nearly 30 years ago.

His attorneys had pleaded with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the U.S. Supreme Court to spare his life. They said that executing a man as old and feeble as Allen amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, and that the 23 years he spent on death row were unconstitutionally cruel, too.

Among other things, Allen was nearly deaf, had diabetes and had had a heart attack last September.

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