The unintended consequence of a killer’s execuition

On this day in 1998: By accident, the execution of Ricky Lee Sanderson, 38-year-old murderer,  brings to an end the era of the gas chamber at Central Prison in Raleigh.

Although many states have already replaced gas with the more clinical method of lethal injection, North Carolina will make the change out of concern for workplace safety: Two prison guards had strapped on air tanks and entered the chamber to remove Sanderson’s body when one tripped, knocking loose for a moment the other’s tank.

Footnote: Here, rendered in a still life and on a dinner plate are artists’ depictions of Sanderson’s chosen last meal: a honey bun.


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