This Botched Hanging Was the Last Public Execution in Minnesota
The state of Minnesota abolished the death penalty over 100 years ago in 1911. Ever wonder why? Well, as the saying goes, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and that certainly was the case when it comes to capital punishment.
As it turns out, we can point to one specific execution that went horribly wrong as to why Minnesota no longer has the death penalty. And how this gruesome killing went horribly wrong might shock you.
William Williams was an immigrant from England, born in 1877. After arriving in the United States, he quickly came to St. Paul Minnesota and became a miner.
In 1904 Williams was sent to the hospital with a bad case of diphtheria, which according to the CDC is a bacterial infection that leads to having an enormous amount of toxins in the body.
While in the hospital, Williams befriended another patient with diphtheria named John Keller. They ended up becoming roommates over the next few years, however, Keller's family, specifically, his father, did not approve of the relationship.
When Keller refused to see Williams, William Williams was sent into a wave of violent anger and shot Keller and his mother in their home in 1905.
In February of 1906, Williams was set to be executed in the basement of the Ramsey County Jail. However, it didn't go over as planned.
Here's why the execution was botched, according to Wikipedia:
The rope used to hang Williams proved to be too long as its length had been miscalculated by Sheriff Miesen. As a result, Williams hit the floor after dropping through the trap door of the gallows. Three of Miesen's deputies had to hold Williams's body up by the rope for over 14 minutes, until he died of strangulation, Williams's attorney, James Cormican, stated that execution was "a disgrace to civilisation."
Williams's botched execution was used by advocates in Minnesota to argue that capital punishment should be abolished in the state. Minnesota abolished capital punishment in 1911 and it has never been reinstated, making William Williams the last person executed by the state.
Based on this botched execution, Minnesota ended up abolishing the death penalty.