Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Timothy Wilson Spencer

The first person in the nation convicted of a capital crime through DNA testing, Wilson Spencer, perished in the state electric chair.

In his closing minutes, 32, Spencer, betrayed no hint of concern, with what witnesses described as nearly a swagger, walking into the death chamber. Asked if he had a closing statement, Spencer initially replied "yeah, I believe," but then said nothing, according to witnesses, whereupon officials covered his face using a leather mask.

A bunch of about 100 gathered outside the prison, about half of them death penalty opponents running a candlelight prayer vigil. The remainder were local high school pupils who boisterously encouraged for the passing of Spencer.

As death penalty opponents sang "Amazing Grace," some of the students shouted, "Kill the bitch."

Such a scene has been uncommon since the death chamber transferred to this distant place, about 55 miles south of Richmond, in 1991.

"There's not any method to spell out what Timothy Spencer did," said Episcopal Bishop Frank H. Vest Jr., who headed the death penalty protesters. "I only believe revenge is God's."

However, for relatives and friends of the sufferers of Spencer, the execution of tonight was only long-delayed justice.

Debbie Dudley Davis, Josephine Dudley, 68, a Lynchburg girl who lost her only daughter, said she expected the departure of Spencer would eventually put a stop to her nightmares. "I only have a constant dream of Debbie in her flat and what he did to her," she said. "It is awful. I am hoping this will be some relief from that."

"Itis a chapter that I'd like to have closed and around with."

The case was observed carefully nationally because Spencer was the first defendant ever sentenced to death on the cornerstone of DNA genetic "fingerprinting." According to state specialists, the opportunities were less than 1 in 700 million that the semen had been left by someone aside from Spencer in the homicide scenes.

His conviction was such a legal landmark that it prompted Virginia to start the very first state DNA lab in the nation and inspired mystery writer Patricia D. Cornwell's popular 1990 novel "Postmortem."

Tucker, 44, a national worker, was discovered Dec. 1, soon after Spencer seen his mom's nearby house for Thanksgiving.

All four were chanced upon partially clothed or naked in their hands, their bedrooms and rope, belts or socks. They seemingly were awakened when Spencer choked them to death, subsequently raped, sodomized and entered their houses through windows.

Spencer after was implicated in the 1984 slaying of attorney Carolyn Jean Hamm, 32, in Arlington, and a dozen other offenses, including eight rapes. Because he had been sentenced to death, he was never tried in those cases.

But, the decision that Hamm was killed by him led to the release of a Manassas guy who'd spent five years in prison for this slaying.

He'd maintained his innocence, since the day Spencer turned his middle finger during a 1988 sentencing hearing. No witnesses put him at the murder scenes. The cases against him were constructed almost solely on the match of deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, which is exceptional and determines someone 's genetic make-up except in identical twins.

In a closing attempt this month to save the life of Spencer, his lawyers requested that state genetics signs be released to their independent specialists, who questioned whether there was a strong match.

Spencer became the 24th man. He also was one of the last to confront the state's electric chair; the General Assembly has consented to permit prisoners to die by lethal injection starting Jan. 1.

Electrocution was uncommon as the head doctor of the penitentiary system refused to be present to pronounce Spencer dead.

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