Death by electrocution sounded like a great idea in 1890 until they saw the terrible pain and slow death that William Kemmler went through. It has been debatable ever since if it was a good execution way or not. William Kemmler may have been a cold blooded killer, but many question if he deserved this cruel and painful punishment of dying of electrocution. Because William Kemmler got drunk and then killed his wife with an axe, he went to trial, got sentenced to death by electrocution, and then started a debate on if electrocution is a good way to execute people.
On the night of March 28, 1889, William Kemmler, a forty year old man vegetable peddler, came home drunk to his apartment in Buffalo, New York. Many people called him an alcoholic, so it was not unusual for him to be drunk. When he arrived home his so-called ‘wife’ Matilda (Tillie) Ziegler was waiting for him, but as soon as he walked in they proceeded to get in a big argument. “He accused her of stealing from him and preparing to run away with a friend of his. When the argument reached a peak, Kemmler calmly went to the barn, grabbed a hatchet, and returned to the house. He struck Tillie repeatedly, killing her” (William). Shortly after killing his ‘wife’ he got arrested. He then went to trial that lasted four days in the early days of May. He was convicted of first-degree murder May 10; three days later he was sentenced to the death by electrocution in the electric chair.
When Kemmler was sentenced to death by electrocution his lawyer quickly appealed. They said it was cruel and unusual punishment, and therefore it was unconstitutional. This debate on whether or not it is constitutional or not went on for a very long time, going all the way to the sup...
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...h a scene again. It was fearful” (Things). Another person said, “The scene of Kemmler’s execution was to horrible to picture. He died the death of Feek, the linemen, who was slowly roasted to death in the sight of thousands” (Murderpedia). People could not stand the sight of what he went through, and most of them never wanted to witness it again.
Killing somebody and going to trial, sentenced to the death penalty, and then starting a debate over your death definitely does not sound like William Kemmler had a great end to his life. Surprisingly though, throughout the whole process of the trial and the execution, multiple reports said that he was calm and collected and never showed any fear of what he was about to get. Many people think he went crazy from being in solitary confinement the whole time during the trial, and that is why he was calm during the execution.
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