Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Book, film to examine botched La. execution


Acadiana bureau

LAFAYETTE -- On May 3, 1946, 17-year-old Willie Francis was strapped into an electric chair on the top floor of the St. Martin Parish Jail to die for the murder of St. Martinville druggist Andrew Thomas.

On May 9, 1947, after surviving the electric current that surged through his body the first time, Francis was strapped to the chair again and executed in a case that attracted national attention and raised questions of whether a second execution attempt would be cruel and unusual punishment.

More than 50 years after Francis' execution, the case is the subject of a forthcoming book and a new documentary, separate projects that each take a different approach to the bizarre story -- one questioning Francis' guilt and the other focusing on the attorney who fought to spare his life.

"The first execution was the year I was born," said Lafayette lawyer Allan Durand, who is putting the finishing touches on the 30-minute documentary "Willie Francis Must Die Again."

Durand has a personal connection to the story -- the attorney who represented Francis in his bid to stop the second execution attempt was the younger brother of Durand's grandmother.

Click on the title to read the rest of this article.......


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