KENNY'S GREATEST HOPE IS THAT HIS SONS WILL SUCCEED WHERE HE HAS FAILED
Kenny Wilson has two sons: DeShawn,
13, and Tyrone, age 6.
(names changed) Kenny and his children have lived their entire lives in a poor section of Newport News -- an area where drugs and crime are rampant. While Kenny tried but failed to make a better life for himself -- he is determined that DeShawn and Tyrone not suffer the same fate.
KENNY REMAINS A CONSISTENT AND POSITIVE PRESENCE IN HIS SONS' LIVES
Kenny has always been a very involved and
lived with his children and their mother, until his arrest. He always made
time for his children. DeShawn remembers his father taking him places --
to the store or out to play. Kenny was the parent who signed DeShawn's
homework and report cards. Kenny encouraged DeShawn to do well in school, and he did. Kenny also was sure to make time to be with his youngest son, Tyrone. Had it been up to Tyrone the two would have played all night. Tyrone was very attached to his father, and as a toddler he cried anytime Kenny left the house.
Since his incarceration, Kenny has done all
his power to remain a father
to his children. DeShawn and Tyrone speak to their father on the phone
almost daily. Family members take the boys to visit Kenny at least every
other month. Kenny and the boys exchange letters frequently. The boys
often compete for the phone both in the visiting room at the prison and
Kenny and his children talk about everyday
as well as major life
lessons. Kenny uses himself as a living example of the consequences of
hanging out on the street and becoming involved in drugs. He describes
his current situation so as to strongly discourage the boys from ever ending
up where he is. He also talks to them about the importance of self-esteem,
and helps DeShawn to be a role model for his little brother. Relatives
always consult Kenny regarding how to discipline the children because the children have always minded Kenny -- both when he was out and since he
has been in prison.
THESE CHILDREN CANNOT AFFORD MORE TRAUMA
Shortly after Kenny was incarcerated, the
mother began abusing
crack and alcohol. As a result she began neglecting and physically abusing
her children. Her behavior greatly surprised Kenny. The boys' mother
was sent to prison, and the children have had very little contact with her
since. The children were placed in the custody of Kenny's mother.
THESE CHILDREN NEED THEIR FATHER
Immediately following Kenny's arrest,
began having trouble in
school. He was acting out and his grades dropped. It was Kenny who
intervened and gave his son the encouragement and support to get through
this traumatic time. He and DeShawn had long discussions about the
importance of staying off drugs and staying off the streets. They talked
about the importance of setting goals and finishing school. With his
father's help, DeShawn was able to get back on track. DeShawn is now in the eighth grade. He is involved in sports and is getting A's and B's in school. He is now part of the "Achievable Dream" program, through which he can get assistance paying for college if he stays in school. DeShawn says it was his father who helped him find the motivation to do so well in school. He sends copies of his report cards to Kenny in prison. While DeShawn is doing well, he is a very quiet child.
His family worries about the pain he
inside already, and how much
more he can take. Tyrone has just started the first grade. Much more outspoken than his big brother, he is getting in trouble for talking back to his teachers. Kenny has been having many talks with Tyrone about the importance of behaving in school. Tyrone is nevertheless doing well with his school work and has been able to impress his father with all the words he can spell.
It is clear to everyone how much the boys
upon their father's
attention, encouragement and support. All agree that there will be no
replacement for Kenny in the lives of DeShawn and Tyrone.
THE SUFFERING THESE TWO CHILDREN WILL EXPERIENCE AT THE LOSS OF THEIR FATHER CAN BE AVOIDED
The loss of a parent is devastating to any
However, the trauma that
awaits these children is unique because it can be avoided. If the Governor
commutes Kenny Wilson's sentence to life without parole, DeShawn and
Tyrone can continue, uninterrupted, on the successful journey they have
We ask you to join us in urging Governor
to consider the effect
Kenny Wilson's execution will have on these innocent children, to end the
cycle of violence, and to commute Kenny's sentence to life without parole.
Call or write to the Governor:
James S. Gilmore III
Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia
State Capitol, Third Floor
Richmond, VA 23219
Copy your letter to:
Post Office Box 506
Richmond, VA 23204-0506
For more information
please contact Marta Kahn at VCRRC: 804-643-6845
IF YOU LIVE IN THE AREA, COME TO THE VIGIL:
November 17th 1998
City & State Jarratt, VA
Location Greensville Correctional Center
Title Execution Vigil in Virginia for Kenneth Wilson
Phone Contact Tim (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sponsor Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
Non-violent vigil in field outside of prison. Reflective vigil consists of readings, praying (if you're comfortable), singing and the reading of all men executed at the GCC, and their victims. GCC is at exit 20 of I-95, 55 miles south of Richmond. For more info, visit www.vadp.org or e-mail Tim at email@example.com.
FROM RICHMOND TIMES/ DISPATCH:
Tuesday, November 17, 1998
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-2 vote, turned down the appeal of
L. Wilson yesterday,
leaving clemency from Gov. Jim Gilmore as his only hope to avoid execution tonight at 9 p.m. at the Greensville Correctional Center.
Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg would have granted Wilson's request for a stay of execution.
In Jarratt, Kenneth Wilson, convicted of stabbing his neighbor to death after tying the woman to a bed and attempting to rape her, was executed Tuesday night, a few hours after Gov. Jim Gilmore rejected a clemency plea.
Wilson, 34, was put to death by injection at the Greensville Correctional Center. He was pronounced dead at 9:09 p.m.
Wilson made no final statement and did not give a response when asked by Warden David Garraghty if he had anything to say.
Earlier in the day, Wilson met with his parents, a sister and his 2 sons.
Larry Traylor, a Department of Corrections spokesman, said relatives of the victim's family had been expected to attend the execution but did not show up.
As the execution hour approached, about a dozen death penalty opponents waited outside the main prison gate.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 to deny Wilson a stay of execution.
Wilson's lawyers had asked Gilmore to commute their client's death sentence to life without parole for the sake of Wilson's sons, ages 13 and 6.
"Losing a parent to execution is different than losing a parent another way. When a parent dies from illness or even homicide, sympathy and community support for the children of the deceased abounds. Not so with the children of a person who is executed," the petition said.
But Gilmore, in denying clemency, noted that Wilson was on parole when Jacqueline M. Stephens was killed in Newport News on March 27, 1993.
"He also bound, stabbed and, for 3 hours, terrorized Ms. Stephens' 12-year-old daughter and another 14-year-old girl who was spending the night in Ms. Stephens' home," Gilmore said. "There never has been any question as to Wilson's guilt."
Armed with a knife, Wilson entered the Stephens home. Wilson knew Ms. Stephens because his cousin was her boyfriend.
Wilson ordered Ms. Stephens, 31, her daughter and the daughter's friend to take off their clothes. He blindfolded the girls and tied them to a bed in the daughter's room.
Over several hours Wilson threatened the girls and Ms. Stephens. On one visit to the girls' room he cut each of them.
He then went into Ms. Stephens' room, and the girls heard her scream as Wilson demanded her car keys.
Police found Ms. Stephens tied to bed posts, her body covered with blood and what appeared to be semen on her leg. She had been stabbed more than 10 times.
The friend had a stab wound on her neck; the daughter was stabbed close to the carotid artery and jugular vein. Her vocal chord nerve was severed.
Wilson was convicted of capital murder, attempted rape, 3 counts of abduction, 2 counts of malicious wounding and grand larceny.
Wilson becomes the 12th condemned inmate to be put to death in Virginia this year, and the 58th overall since the state resumed executions in 1982.
Wilson also becomes the 57th condemned
to be executed this year in the USA, and the 489th overall since
punishment on Jan. 17, 1977.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)