Convicted Murderer Who Pleaded for Death Electrocuted in Virginia

Robert Gleason Jr. killed two fellow inmates in order to get a death sentence.

ByABC News
January 16, 2013, 12:52 PM

Jan. 16, 2013 — -- A Virginia inmate who begged and even killed for the death penalty was executed by electric chair Wednesday night.

Robert Gleason Jr., 42, was pronounced dead at 9:08 p.m. authorities said. He was executed at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va.

Gleason was already serving a life sentence for murder when he killed two other prisoners in a quest for the death penalty. He threatened to continue killing until he was sentenced to death.

Despite Gleason's determination to be executed, his former lawyers battled to keep him alive and sought a stay of his execution.

"This is going to look to most people like a case that is appropriate for the death penalty," Gleason's former attorney Jon Sheldon told Wednesday. "But what's odd about the case is it flips the death penalty precisely on its head in that the motive for the prison killing was only so he could get the death penalty."

Sheldon said killing Gleason would send a bad message to other inmates who could potentially use killing to get what they want.

Gleason was convicted of murdering Michael Kent Jamerson in Amherst, Va., in 2008. He was sentenced to life without parole. In prison, he strangled Harvey Watson, his cellmate, and Aaron Cooper, a fellow inmate.

The inmate has been insisting on his execution.

"Someone needs to stop it. The only way to stop me is to put me on death row," Gleason told The Associated Press after he killed a fellow inmate in 2009.

Gleason, who said he only killed criminals, told the AP that requesting the death penalty was a way of honoring a promise to a loved one that he would not kill again. He also wanted his two young sons to learn from his mistakes.

"I wasn't there as a father, and I'm hoping that I can do one last thing," he said. "Hopefully, this is a good thing."

Gleason chose the electric chair over lethal injection, making him the first in Virginia to do so in almost three years.

Click here for photos of past death row inmates' last meals.

Gleason waived death penalty appeals and battled his former court-appointed lawyers who have filed a number of appeals to stay the execution, claiming that he was not mentally sound to make the decision.

"There is substantial current evidence to suggest that Mr. Gleason, who is not thinking or behaving rationally, and that he is unable to assist counsel," the attorneys wrote in a Jan. 9 filing. Gleason was in solitary confinement for the past year.

They said that Gleason exhibited "serious paranoia, racing thoughts, anxiety, disordered thinking, pressured speech, and perseveration." The lawyers also wrote that Gleason's mental health has not been evaluated in over a year, which he spent in solitary confinement.

Sheldon filed several last minute appeals to stay the execution. Both state and federal courts have rejected the motions for stay the execution. A Supreme Court motion has not yet been answered.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said last week he would not intervene in the execution.

"Gleason has expressed no remorse for these horrific murders," McDonnell said in a statement. "He has not sought to appeal his convictions and has not filed a petition for clemency. He has consistently rejected any offers of legal assistance. Gleason has said that he wants the Jan. 16 execution to 'go as is.' He has been found competent by the appropriate courts to make all of these decisions."

McDonnell said that even though Gleason did not file a petition for clemency, he reviewed the case and "found no compelling reason to intercede."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.