Allen Lee Davis
Allen Lee Davis was a convicted murderer executed for the May 11, 1982 Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Jacksonville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Florida in terms of both population and land area, and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. It is the county seat of Duval County, with which the city government consolidated in 1968...

Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

 of Nancy Weiler, who was three months pregnant at the time. According to reports, Nancy Weiler was "beaten almost beyond recognition" by Davis with a .357 Magnum
.357 Magnum
The .357 S&W Magnum , or simply .357 Magnum, is a revolver cartridge created by Elmer Keith, Phillip B. Sharpe, Colonel D. B. Wesson of firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson, and Winchester. It is based upon Smith & Wesson's earlier .38 Special cartridge. The .357 Magnum cartridge was introduced in...

, and hit over 25 times in the face and head.

He was also convicted of killing Nancy Weiler's two daughters, Kristina (9, shot twice in the face) and Katherine (5, shot as she was trying to run away). Davis was on parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...

 for armed robbery at the time of the murders. He was executed on July 8, 1999. His last meal
Last meal
The last meal is a customary part of a condemned prisoner's last day. Often, the day of, or before, the appointed time of execution, the prisoner receives a last meal, as well as religious rites, if they desire. In the United States, inmates generally may not ask for an alcoholic drink...

 consisted of: One lobster tail, fried potatoes, a half pound of fried shrimp, six ounces of fried clams, half a loaf of garlic bread, and 32 ounces of A&W Root Beer.


Davis' execution drew nationwide media attention after he had a nose bleed in the electric chair
Electric chair
Execution by electrocution, usually performed using an electric chair, is an execution method originating in the United States in which the condemned person is strapped to a specially built wooden chair and electrocuted through electrodes placed on the body...

 and suffered burns to his head, leg, and groin area during the course of his electrocution. A Florida Supreme Court
Florida Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of the State of Florida is the highest court in the U.S. state of Florida. The Supreme Court consists of seven judges: the Chief Justice and six Justices who are appointed by the Governor to 6-year terms and remain in office if retained in a general election near the end of each...

 justice published some photos of the aftermath of the incident.

In 1999, the state of Florida heard a petition from Thomas Harrison Provenzano
Thomas Harrison Provenzano
Thomas Harrison Provenzano was a convicted murderer executed by means of lethal injection by the state of Florida...

, another death row
Death row
Death row signifies the place, often a section of a prison, that houses individuals awaiting execution. The term is also used figuratively to describe the state of awaiting execution , even in places where no special facility or separate unit for condemned inmates exists.After individuals are found...

 inmate, that argued that the electric chair was a cruel and unusual punishment
Cruel and unusual punishment
Cruel and unusual punishment is a phrase describing criminal punishment which is considered unacceptable due to the suffering or humiliation it inflicts on the condemned person...


Witness Testimonials

During the proceedings, many people testified about Davis's death.
  • Ira E. Whitlock, licensed electrical engineer, said that during the execution of Allen Lee Davis, the readings produced by Old Sparky
    Old Sparky
    Old Sparky is the nickname of the electric chairs in Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New York, Texas, and Virginia. It was the nickname of the long-retired electric chair at the now-closed West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville, West...

    's chart recorder indicated that the circuitry operated as it was designed and intended to operate. Others corroborated this testimony.

During Davis's execution, the recorder collected the following data:
Cycle Voltage
Voltage, otherwise known as electrical potential difference or electric tension is the difference in electric potential between two points — or the difference in electric potential energy per unit charge between two points...

Current  Impedance
Electrical impedance
Electrical impedance, or simply impedance, is the measure of the opposition that an electrical circuit presents to the passage of a current when a voltage is applied. In quantitative terms, it is the complex ratio of the voltage to the current in an alternating current circuit...

1 1,500 V 10 A 150 Ω
2 600 V 4.5 A 133 Ω
3 1,500 V 10 A 150 Ω
  • John W. Moser, Capital Collateral Regional Counsel for the Middle Region, testified that between the time Davis was strapped into the chair and the time the electrical current was applied to Davis, he heard what he described as two screams from Davis. He also said that upon application of the current, Davis' body tensed and arched backward, and seconds later, blood appeared on Davis's chest. Moser approximated that around three minutes after Davis's body tensed, at a point when Davis was no longer tensed, he saw Davis's chest move in and out several times.
  • Mark Lazarus, Victim Assistance Administrator for the Florida Department of Corrections, testified that after the head piece was placed on Davis' head, he heard Davis make two one-syllable sounds that he also described as a "yell[ing] out." He corroborated Moser's observations of Davis' body clenching and blood began dripping onto Davis from behind the mask. Lazarus also saw Davis's chest move, but described it as like a muscle spasm.
  • Sheila McAllister, Correctional Probation Officer at Wakulla Correctional Institution, testified that, though Davis's face was red before being executed, it was redder than an apple in the photographs of Davis taken after the execution had taken place. She said, like Moser and Lazarus, that Davis stiffened as the electrical current passed through him, and added that his hands clenched. She also heard Davis make noise, which she described as moaning sounds. She corroborated that Davis had blood on his chest that appeared to be coming from behind the mask, and that Davis's chest moved like muscle spasms. She added that they occurred three or four times and that they were spaced apart with two or three seconds in between.
  • William R. Dotson, Inspector Supervisor for the Gainesville Field Office with the Department of Corrections' Inspector General's Office, testified that he and "Mr. Geibig" took some of the pictures of Davis's body after the execution, and that he had felt it necessary to document the event.
  • Michael R. Collins, a nurse for the Florida State Prison
    Florida State Prison
    Florida State Prison , formerly known as the Union Correctional Institution—East Unit, is a correctional institution located in unincorporated Bradford County, Florida. It is located on Florida State Road 16 right across the border from Union County. The institution opened in 1961, even though...

     testified that he heard Davis make one "loud maybe two, three-second high-pitched murmur" before the current was applied. He corroborated the characterization of Davis's body as stiffened or rigid when the current was applied, and said that Davis's fingernails turned bright red. After the current was stopped and Davis was examined, Collins said that he saw blood on Davis's shirt, on his chest and on the upper right side by the collar, and blood dripping from the mask for a short time during the examination.
  • Steve Wellhausen, employee of Florida State Prison assigned to escort the official witnesses to the execution of Allen Lee Davis, corroborated reports of noise coming from Davis (which he described as a low muffled moan), Davis's stiffening body and tightening hands, and blood coming from beneath the mask and movement of Davis's chest after the current ceased, though Wellhausen stated that it did not look like breathing to him. He also said that it was not uncommon for these chest movements to occur after execution by electric chair.
  • Robert K. Thomas, John H. "Jack" McNeill, and William Muse established that Davis made a noise after the placing of the mouthpiece into his mouth but before the current was applied. McNeil stated that he heard two noises, once when he put the waist strap on Davis, and again when Thomas tightened the chin strap for the head piece. Thomas testified that he heard Davis moan one time while the strap for the mouthpiece was being tightened, but did not do anything about it. Thomas also stated that he saw two bubbles of blood in Davis's left nostril even before the current had been applied to Davis, but did nothing at that time either.
  • Thomas Varnes, Warden at Wakulla Correctional Institution, corroborrated some previous testimony, and said that he thought the nose bleed may have something to do with the high blood pressure that Davis was reported to have. Varnes, too, had high blood pressure and nose bleeds, but testified that he does not have pain with his nose bleeds.
  • Aubrey D. Thornton, Assistant Warden at Florida State Prison, corroborrated some previous testimony, and added that the mouth strap, as it appeared in a photograph presented as evidence, was not in the same position that it was in when Thornton positioned it on him prior to the execution. He said that the mouth strap was higher and closer to Davis' nose. He stated that Davis appeared redder after the mouth strap was applied, but that he did not appear to have trouble breathing.
  • William F. Mathews, P.A., physician's assistant for Florida State Prison, corroborrated that Davis could not have had trouble breathing. Matthews took Davis's pulse for two minutes after the electrical current ceased and did not feel anything. He also checked for heart and lung sounds and did not hear any. He said that he saw Davis's chest slump but that Davis did not show any sign of life when this occurred.
  • Robert Kirschner, M.D., forensic pathologist from Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

    , performed an autopsy on Davis and testified that the nose bleed Davis experienced appeared to come from septal area of the left nostril. According to his observations during the autopsy, Kirschner testified that he believed that the mouthpiece partially asphyxiated Davis and that the cause of death was electrocution and association of partial asphyxiation which occurred before the electrocution, and that he believed that Davis was suffering from conscious pain during the period of asphyxiation.
  • Kris Sperry, M.D., Chief Medical Examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation
    Georgia Bureau of Investigation
    The Georgia Bureau of Investigation or GBI is an independent, U.S. state of Georgia agency that provides assistance to the state's criminal justice system in the areas of criminal investigations, forensic laboratory services and computerized criminal justice information.-Organization:The agency is...

    , testified that the application of ten amps of current to brain tissue causes instant loss of consciousness, including cessation of the experience of pain, and that a person can indeed bleed while dead. Sperry disagreed with Kirschner's opinion regarding the mouthpiece, but thought that the nose bleed occurred from some sort of increased pressure in Davis' upper torso or head region.
  • William Hamilton, M.D., Medical Examiner for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, who performed an autopsy on Davis, was deposed, stating that Davis had burns on his scalp and forehead, on his suprapubic and right upper medial thigh region, and behind the right knee. He believed the burns on the inmates executed in the previous five or six years were smaller than those on inmates executed before that time. He corroborrated earlier testimony in addition.

The state of Florida controversially found that Davis had died a "painless death" and was not asphyxiated.

External links

  •, Prosecutor's description and photos of execution
  •, photos of Allen Lee Davis after his execution
  •, Inmate Release Information Detail - Inmate 040174. Florida Department of Corrections
    Florida Department of Corrections
    The Florida Department of Corrections, established in 1821, operates state prisons in Florida. It has its headquarters in Tallahassee.The Florida Department of Corrections operates the third largest state prison system in the United States...

    . Retrieved on 2008-05-29.
  •, August 3, 1999 Order Upholding Constitutionality of the Electric Chair. Florida Department of Corrections
    Florida Department of Corrections
    The Florida Department of Corrections, established in 1821, operates state prisons in Florida. It has its headquarters in Tallahassee.The Florida Department of Corrections operates the third largest state prison system in the United States...

    (1999-08-03). Retrieved on 2008-05-29.
  • J.J. Maloney,, The Execution Photos. Crime Magazine. Retrieved on 2007-11-13.
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