#On This Day – Executions

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

On 6 August 1890, William Francis Kemmler had the unfortunate renown of becoming the first person in the world to be legally executed by electric chair. He was convicted of murdering his common law wife, Tillie Ziegler, with a hatchet and was sentenced to death by electric chair, which had replaced the noose, under New York’s recent execution law of 1881. Seventeen witnesses attended the execution event, which unfortunately for Kemmler did not run smoothly. It took two attempts and eight minutes for Kemmler to die, the first attempt at 1,000 volts and the second at 2,000 volts. This resulted in Kemmler’s blood vessels bursting in view of the witnesses and then carbonising. An autopsy later discovered that the top part of his brain had hardened. The last person to be executed by electric chair in New York was Eddie Lee Mays on 15 August 1963, after which the death penalty was declared unconstitutional in New York.

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