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     Virginia Executed Kenny NOVEMBER 17, 1998


Stop The Cycle Of Violence !

 Violent crimes always have an impact beyond the immediate victim --
 children, parents and other family members will be profoundly affected
 by  the loss of a loved one.  Executions too have profound effects beyond
 the  death of the condemned.  Unless our Governor intervenes, on November 17,  1998, the lives of two children will be irreparably damaged when the
 citizens of Virginia execute their father, Kenny Wilson.


 Kenny Wilson has two sons:  DeShawn, age 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 has always been a very involved and affectionate father.  Kenny
 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 in 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
 at home.

 Kenny and his children talk about everyday things, 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.


 Shortly after Kenny was incarcerated, the boys' 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.


 Immediately following Kenny's arrest, DeShawn 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 carries 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 depend 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 loss of a parent is devastating to any child.  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 Gilmore 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
 (804) 786-2211

 Copy your letter to:

 Virginia Capital Representation
  Resource Center
  Post Office Box 506
  Richmond, VA  23204-0506

 For more information
 please contact     Marta  Kahn  at VCRRC:      804-643-6845


November 17th 1998

  Time                   8:30 pm
  City & State         Jarratt, VA
  Location             Greensville Correctional Center
  Title                  Execution Vigil in Virginia for Kenneth Wilson
  Phone Contact                      Tim (
  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 or e-mail Tim at

Tuesday, November 17, 1998

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-2 vote, turned down the appeal of Kenneth 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 prisoner to be executed this year in the USA, and the 489th overall since America resumed capital
punishment on Jan. 17, 1977.

(sources:  Associated Press and Rick Halperin)

        Thanks to all the newspapers, reporters, and wire services quoted in the above articles. 
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Last updated December 24, 2010  Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty
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