A coroner told the warden he detected what he thought was a faint heartbeat shortly after the curtain closed. The coroner then must wait five minutes and then check again for a heart beat.
None was detected the second time, said Ernie Moore, the director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Moore, who just took over the post in February, seemed subdued throughout the day and spoke briefly that he was following the law in executing Garner.
Garner, however, appeared at peace with his condemnation.
If he was scared, he showed no sign. He turned his head to the left, staring into the eyes of his niece Martisha Ross for long periods.
While strapped to a wooden gurney, Garner held a dreadlock of hair from a friend in his left hand and read from a hand-written note held up by an official. He apologized to the six family members of victims who were there to witness the execution, separated from the killer by about four feet and a glass window.
“If this will give you closure, I hope it will,” he said.
Garner thanked the state of Ohio, his spiritual advisers and friend Stacy Evans who gave him a clipping of her dreadlock to hold as he died.
Garner’s voice cracked once as he said his goodbyes, but he never lost his composure.
“I thought I’d never be free, but I am free now,” he said.
No one spoke as he was dying until the warden broke the silence. “Time of death, 10:38 a.m.,” Warden Donald Morgan called out when the curtain opened at 10:39 a.m.
The people in the three witness rooms remained silent as they were ushered out.
Garner was sentenced to death for killing the children in the home of Addie Mack after he stole her purse from a phone booth at University Hospital and broke into her apartment.
During the 40 minutes inside the witness rooms, Mack, who lost three daughters in the fire, turned a few times to look at her son, Rod Mack, the only one to survive the fire.
About 10 anti-death penalty advocates stood in the drizzling rain during the execution.
Up to the moment of his death, Garner, who has an IQ of 76 and was considered borderline retarded, maintained he never intended for the children to die, and was only trying to cover up the fact that he stole a television set, a VCR, a boom box and phone from the home.
Rod Mack jumped from the window and was found shivering in the snow when emergency crews arrived. He told the police he heard his sisters screaming.
The girls died huddled together.
Garner took a cab from the apartment to a United Dairy Farmers where he bought Hawaiian Punch, a jelly cake and candy.
For his last meal at the Death House on Monday, Garner also had Hawaiian Punch and an assortment of food that included a Porterhouse steak, barbeque chicken and ribs, sweet potato pie, fried shrimp and chocolate ice cream.
Garner declined the standard prison breakfast Tuesday morning, as well as a sedative, in the hours before his death.
He spent the early morning hours with his mother, Patricia Garner, his sister Lisa Ross, his friend Evans, spiritual leaders, the defense counsel and his niece – the only person to witness his death on his behalf.
“He is finally at peace and that was very important,” his older sister Ross said after his death. She said she hoped the family members of sisters Denitra Satterwhite, 12, Deondra Freeman, 10, Mykia Mack, 8; the girls’ cousin Markeca Mason, 11, and neighbor Richard Gaines, also 11, could one day forgive him.
Marshandra Jackson, who lost her daughter Markeca, quietly wept during the 40-minute process that started with prep-work and the insertion of two shunts while Garner was in his holding cell. The preparations were broadcast into the witness rooms through video monitors.
He then took 17 steps into the death chamber and climbed on the gurney.
Garner arrived in Lucasville on Monday, a place where he first was admitted to death row all those years ago when the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility sent people to death by the electric chair. The prison at the time was the only one in the state to house death row inmates.
Much has changed since then.
The electric chair has since been replaced first with a lethal cocktail of drugs and then more recently to the sole drug Thiopental Sodium.
Garner, who sentenced shortly after he turned 20, had been housed at the Mansfield Correctional Facility since 1995, where he lived alone in a 94-square-foot cell.
When not in trouble, he was permitted out of his cell for up to 2½ hours a day.
Garner found trouble, though. Reports from the correction department say he was cited 13 times for infractions ranging from having sex with inmates to throwing fluids on workers to violent outbursts and fighting.
Garner and his twin Willie, who were born on Sept. 26, 1972, went by the names Peewee and Pappy, respectively.
Garner suffered abuse and got into trouble early, court records show.
At the age of 5, he kicked a teacher and threw temper tantrums.
Garner was beaten by his mother and her boyfriends, as well as by a brother who had sexually assaulted him, according to court records.
That brother was picked up on a warrant Tuesday as he stood outside the prison walls before the execution. The infraction was that he allegedly failed to register as a sex offender in Hamilton County.
Garner started getting in trouble with the law at the age of 10. He failed the second-, fourth- and sixth-grades, court records say.
There were theft charges, criminal trespass and another theft charge all before his 11th birthday. Many followed ranging from breaking and entering, to assault to disorderly conduct.
“He was ready. Peewee had been ready,” Ross said of her brother’s execution Tuesday. “… Through the years, we prepared for this day.”
2 weeks to doom
Garner killed five children in a 1992 English Woods apartment fire he set to destroy evidence of a burglary. Garner has said he threw a lighted match on a couch after burglarizing the apartment where the children were sleeping-he told authorities he thought the children would escape. 11 year old Markeca Mason, 8 year old Mykkila Mason, 12 year old Denitra Satterwhite, 10 year old Deondra Freeman, and 11 year old Richard Gaines all died in the fire. One child did escape-Rodriczus Mack was 13 at the time and jumped from the window. He will witness Garner's execution.
On Monday, the Federal Sixth Circuit Court refused to hear further appeals. Earlier that day, the Ohio Supreme Court refused to hear his appeals. Garner had argued that his five death sentences should be thrown out for reasons including his claim that he had the mental age of a child when he set the fire.
Garner is the sixth person executed in Ohio this year and the 39th put to death by the state since it resumed the practice in 1999.