Feb 14, 2010

You probably have never heard of this man. His name was Viva Leroy Nash, and he was the oldest death row inmate in America. Mr. Nash died on Arizona's death row this past Friday, he was 94.

That's right, Arizona had a 94-year-old guy on death row. But, it gets worse.

Nash was born in 1915 and was first incarcerated in 1930. From that point on, he was nearly continuously in the custody of one government or another. Almost eighty years in the slammer. That has to be a record of some kind.

Make no mistake, Mr. Nash was a bad person, made worse by his mental illness. He was a pro-death penalty advocate's poster child for capital punishment. A killer who when released, killed again.

Nash served 25 years for shooting a policeman in 1947. After his release for that crime, he killed someone during an armed robbery. That netted him two life sentences on Arizona's death row.

In 1982, at age 67, Nash escaped from prison and killed a shop owner during a hold up try. In 1983 he was convicted of that killing and sentenced to death.

For 26 years, Nash and his court-appointed attorney waged a battle to stay his execution. Last year an appeals court ruled that Nash was not competent to aid his attorney in further legal proceedings, effectively putting his execution on hold, at least temporarily.

In addition to his history of mental illness, Nash was blind, deaf and had many physical limitations at the time of the ruling. Not to mention that he was 93 at the time.

So, here's the part where I promised you it gets worse.

The brain trust in our government's legal department were appealing the lower court ruling on Nash's competence to the US Supreme Court. They still had high hopes that they could give Nash his due.

What kind of people go to the Supreme Court in the hope they can convince the justices to let them execute a 94-year-old man?

What a shameful act.

Things in this blog represented to be fact, may or may not actually be true. The writer is frequently wrong, sometimes just full of it, but always judgmental and cranky


Barbara said...

What a sad story. Nash was obviously a very troubled soul who never learned how to use words to settle anything. I'm amazed anyone could live that long in our penal system.

maggie's garden said...

Totally a shameful act, and all our money spent on the court usage, and keeping him jailed. What the heck were they thinking?
Happy Monday Merle!

The Bug said...

As Dr. M would say - grrr, argh!

Catskill Snap said...

I saw a blurb on this and was hoping to find the whole story here. Good post Merle. I agree with Barbara's and Maggie's comments.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

yikes, what a tale and what a troubled soul mr. nash was.

80 years in prison, gotta be a record - quick, quick, someone google it!

Reya Mellicker said...

I agree completely. How sad.

dennis said...

I can't believe his parents named him Viva.