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Botched execution should give pause

January 20, 2014
The Journal

In 1906, the state of Minnesota held its last execution of a murderer. William Williams was hanged in the Ramsey County Courthouse basement, in the middle of the night. It was a botched job - the sheriff overestimated the amount of rope needed, Williams hit the floor without breaking his neck, and he had to be hauled up into the air by three deputies. It took him 14 slow, agonizing minutes to strangle to death. A reporter had sneaked into what was supposed to be a private execution, and his report created such a furor that Minnesota outlawed the death penalty for good in 1911.



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