Attorney who witnessed an execution warns volunteers about the side effects

Execution witness warns others of what to expect at the executions

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- We're just 12 days out from the scheduled executions of 8 Arkansas inmates.

Getting volunteers to watch those executions has been difficult for  the Department of Correction, until now. 48 witnesses are needed to watch the execution of eight inmates; a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 12 witnesses are needed per execution. The witnesses must be 21 years-old, must be an Arkansas resident, and have no felony criminal history.

The Department of Correction said it has enough people interested to watch the executions but they haven’t made the final selection. Getting witnesses hasn’t been an easy task for the Department of Corrections, attorney John Hall said he isn't surprised.

Hall witnessed the execution of Kristina Riggs in 2000, he told us that 17 years later it still haunts him. We spoke with him on the phone today, but he declined an on-camera interview, saying the conversation would just be too hard. He signed up because he felt it was his duty as Riggs Lawyer but he said he doesn't know why anyone would want to volunteer.

He still remembers the last moments before Riggs death, he said she sang gospel hymns and prayed. He said when the drugs hit her system her whole body turned gray, an image he said he'll never forget.

Counselor Ann Barlin said witnesses need to be prepared for the side effects of watching an execution, “I don't think the people that sign up really know what they're going to be witnessing.”

She suggests for anyone volunteering to reflect on why they're doing it and prepare themselves mentally before and after with counseling to talk about it, “when you see something like that you can't forget it, I can imagine they're going to have bad dreams and nightmares and trouble sleeping.”

The Department of Correction said it’s still getting witness requests but they will not release any information on the witnesses or any more details until the first day of executions.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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