Henry killed a 14-year-old girl. He killed her after breaking her thumbs, kicking and breaking most of her ribs, striking her repeatedly in the head with his thermos, and stabbing her more than 45 times with a #2 pencil. She bled to death. He killed her after he had kidnapped her and raped her repeatedly for four weeks. He had kept her in the basement of his parents’ house. His parents had disappeared years ago.
The girl had been walking by the house when Henry invited her in to see some new puppies. The puppies were also found stabbed to death. Henry was caught, convicted, and sent to prison for the girl’s brutal killing. He was sentenced to death by injection. That was 30 years ago. For the past 30 years, Henry has been fighting his death penalty. During that time, taxpayers have spent more than $30,000 a year on Henry’s room and board, medical and dental care, and legal help.
A month ago, it looked like Henry was finally going to meet his Maker. But his lawyer filed one final argument, claiming that death by injection was quite painful; Henry shouldn't suffer in his final moments. One hour before Henry was scheduled to die, the California Supreme Court agreed; the drugs injected into Henry might cause him to suffer. Such suffering would be “cruel and unusual” punishment, a violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Henry remained in his warm cell. He would die only when the state figured out a way to kill Henry without making him say “Ouch!”
The parents and siblings of the brutally murdered girl were not even surprised. Her dad said, “He’ll die of old age in his sleep, and his survivors will collect a million-dollar settlement because the guard forgot to put a candy mint on Henry's pillow that night.”