Daily Archives: June 6, 2008


It’s rare for two Atlanta reporters to witness an execution. It apparently happened Wednesday, when the state executed Curtis Osborne for a 1990 double murder in Spalding County. Sarah Parker of WGCL phoned in a brief and rather bland account of the execution for the station’s 11pm news Wednesday. But Rhonda Cook of the AJC was much more vivid.

Jackson —- Executioners struggled for 35 minutes to find a vein before Curtis Osborne died by lethal injection Wednesday for a 1990 Spalding County double murder.

Osborne, 37, was pronounced dead at 9:05 p.m., 14 minutes after his executioners injected the first of three fatal drugs. He was the second man Georgia has executed in a month. He also was the fourth person in the country to die by lethal injection since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the method was constitutional.

Even after a 55-minute delay while the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed his final appeal, the execution that was to have occurred at 7 p.m. was delayed even longer while prison medical staff tried to find acceptable veins in both arms.

Osborne said nothing while the IVs were inserted.

Cook’s article is here. In it, she never actually says that she was an eyewitness. But she makes it clear she’s writing a first-person account without ever using the first person. Her work remains on the ever-shrinking list of reasons to subscribe to the AJC.

The Department of Corrections tries to have at least one media witness to every execution. There’s a print reporter from middle Georgia who witnessed dozens of them. It seems a distasteful assignment. We once saw an AJC reporter leave the Jackson prison grounds in tears after witnessing an execution.

It’s also an important assignment (in spite of increasing media disinterest– WAGA covered the execution with a 25 second reader). The blunt-instrument power of government is on no greater display than when it puts a human being to death. Eyewitness accounts ultimately led to the demise of the electric chair. Pieces like the one written by Cook will keep lethal injection under legitimate scrutiny as well.