Tennessee executed a blind man convicted in the death of his estranged girlfriend Thursday night, the second blind person to be executed in recent decades.
Lee Hall died by electric chair. He was pronounced dead at 7:36 p.m., The Commercial Appeal reported.
The U.S. Supreme Court had refused to intervene in the case, saying earlier Thursday it had denied his lawyers’ request for a stay. For his last meal, Hall, also known as Leroy Hall Jr., ordered a Philly cheesesteak, onion rings, a slice of cheesecake and a Pepsi, the Tennessean reported.
Tennessee’s Republican Gov. Bill Lee also declined to grant a stay. “The justice system has extensively reviewed Lee Hall’s case over the course of almost 30 years, including additional review and rulings by the Tennessee Supreme Court yesterday and today,” Lee said in a statement Wednesday. “The judgment and sentence stand based on these rulings, and I will not intervene in this case.”
Hall was the 13th prisoner executed by the state since 1916 and the sixth since it resumed executions in August 2018.
Hall had sight when he entered death row but he became functionally blind after being improperly treated for glaucoma, his lawyers said, adding that he was the second blind prisoner to be executed since the high court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Clarence Ray Allen, 76, died via lethal injection in 2006 in California.
The 53-year-old Hall has been in prison for nearly three decades for the April 17, 1991 slaying of 22-year-old Traci Crozier.
Investigators said Hall set her car on fire while she was inside. He stuffed a paper towel over the top of the vehicle and lit it on fire with gasoline, resulting in an explosion.
In 2010, he was diagnosed with “chronic angle closure glaucoma,” which deteriorated his eyesight over time, his attorneys said.
“Lee Hall is blind and vulnerable. If confined to prison for the remainder of natural life, Mr. Hall bears no practical risk of harm to anyone,” they wrote in 2018. “The spectacle — guiding him to the gurney — would ‘offend humanity.'”
The Supreme Court has declined to set an age limit for executions or an exemption for physical disabilities.
“Death row is not — and is not intended to be — a nurturing environment, and it is unfortunately an environment that is extremely, physically and mentally debilitating,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.
Tennessee is one of six states in which inmates could choose the electric chair. Three out of five recent inmates put to death in Tennessee have chosen the chair since last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.