Friday, August 12, 2011
Matt Schulz, an attorney with the capital habeas unit of Federal Defender's Office for the Middle District of Alabama
Mr. Valle presented Matt Schulz, an attorney with the capital habeas unit of Federal Defender's Office for the Middle District of Alabama (T. 7/28 29) who represented Eddie Powell, a death-sentenced Alabama inmate. Mr. Schulz witnessed the execution of Mr. Powell on June 16, 2011, with Federal Defender 2
Christine Freeman. Mr. Schulz felt that Powell was handling his execution about as well as he could possibly expect someone to handle it, so he was not in any sort of distress other than just obviously the general anxiety about what was coming (T. 7/28 36).
Mr. Schulz had never been to the execution chamber before and did not know what to expect (T. 7/28 38). Also present in the execution chamber were the guard who brought them into the room, Ms. Freeman and three members of the press. There were additional witnesses who Mr. Schulz could not see (T. 7/28 40). Mr. Schulz explained that the witness room was separated from the chamber by a window, which was covered by a curtain when he arrived (T. 7/28 40). He sat right in front of the window. Mr. Powell was in the middle of the execution chamber, already on the gurney. He was strapped down, and covered by a number of white sheets tightly wrapped around him. Mr. Schulz could not see Mr. Powell‘s feet below the sheets (T. 7/28 40-41). He could see most of Mr. Powell‘s body, approximately seven or eight feet away. Mr. Schulz faced the left side of Mr. Powell‘s body. He could see the entire left side of Mr. Powell‘s face, his arms which were strapped to extensions on the gurney (T. 7/28 41-42). Mr. Schulz observed two guards and a chaplain in the chamber. The warden then entered the room, read the death warrant, and asked if Mr. Powell had any last words. The warden placed the microphone close to Mr. Powell's face and Mr. Powell 3
apologized for the pain that he had caused the victim‘s family and his own (T. 7/28 43). Mr. Powell did not appear to be in any distress at that time (T. 7/28 43). After Mr. Powell‘s last statement, the warden stated the execution would now be carried out. He walked behind Mr. Powell and Mr. Schulz was not able to see the warden after that point. There was a wall behind Mr. Powell and the IV lines ran into and/or around the wall, so Mr. Schulz was not able to see the warden or know when they were injecting the lethal drugs (T. 7/28 44). Mr. Schulz described what he saw: After approximately one minute, Mr. Powell all of the sudden jerked his head up and kind of his upper body also jerked up rather abruptly. He looked to be pressing -- it looked as though his upper body was pressing against the restraints, and he had a real look of confusion on his face. He looked around, and then looked down at the chaplain, and he particularly had a look of confusion when he looked down at the chaplain, and then he began -- about the only way I can describe it is it look as though he was clenching his jaw and flexing the muscles in his face and in his neck quite strenuously. It's -- that looked as though -- I don't know whether it was his arteries actually throbbing or if it was just because of the muscles flexing, but it looked as though his artery was pumping and blood was sort of pumping into his face at that point, and that lasted for about a minute in and of itself, and then he -- at that point, his eyes started to kind of glaze over and rolled into the back of his head, and then his head went back down in what appeared to be involuntary at that point. * * * He appeared to be restrained clear throughout his lower and upper body…I was really only looking at his upper body, so it looked like -- kind of like his shoulders were pressing up against the restraints. * * * 4
After a few minutes, a guard approached Mr. Powell and then sort of bent down a little towards him and yelled very loudly, "Eddie, Eddie, Eddie," and there was no response, and then the guard ran his -- it looked like he ran his finger kind of lightly over Mr. Powell's left eyelash, and there was, again, no response. (T. 7/28 46-49). Mr. Schulz noted that Mr. Powell‘s eyes were open, but, by the end of the procedure which lasted 20 to 25 minutes, they appeared to be fully closed (T. 7/28 49). Mr. Schulz explained that, to his knowledge, Alabama uses a three-drug cocktail in their lethal injection procedures and that they recently announced they were switching from sodium thiopental to pentobarbital (T. 7/28 51). Mr. Schulz was surprised that the process would have taken so long (T. 7/28 58). He could see from the clock in the execution chamber that it took 20 to 25 minutes (T. 7/28 59).