By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com April 24 2003 12:00 AM ET
A man slated to be executed for the stabbing death of a 60-year-old gay man during a 1996 robbery has been denied clemency by Alabama governor Bob Riley. Gary Leon Brown, 44, is scheduled to die at 6 p.m. Thursday by lethal injection at Holman Prison in Atmore. He currently has no appeals in the courts, said Clay Crenshaw, who works on death penalty cases for the attorney general's office.
Brown, convicted in Jefferson County in the stabbing death that left Jack David McGraw of Center Point nearly decapitated, had been scheduled to die by electrocution a year ago. But the U.S. Supreme Court blocked his execution based on his appeal, which in part contended that the electric chair is cruel and
unusual punishment. Alabama has since switched its primary method of execution to lethal injection, and in June the high court denied a further appeal.
McGraw, described in trial testimony as being gay, was stabbed 78 times with a butcher knife, his throat slashed repeatedly and nearly cut through. Prosecutors said the savageness of the attack indicated that the killing may not have been simply a robbery. "A lot of the stab wounds were notched, showing that he actually twisted the knife when it was in the victim's body," Crenshaw said.
Also convicted in the murder was James Lynn Bynum of Trussville--21 at the time of the slaying--who was paroled March 24, 1997, from a life sentence. Archie Bankhead, then 36, of Birmingham also was convicted. Bankhead's death sentence was reversed on appeal, and at retrial Bankhead, testifying that he had "found the Lord," was sentenced to life without parole.
A Korean War veteran with virtually no relatives, McGraw was left in the mobile home where he lived alone. He was robbed of $67 and several appliances. His body was found by neighborhood children. Brown, of Center Point, told investigators that he and his cohorts went to McGraw's home on Memorial Day 1996 to drink with him, hoping that McGraw would pass out so they could rob him. But McGraw said he had to work the next day and couldn't party with them. McGraw was tackled and dragged inside the residence. Brown said he repeatedly stabbed McGraw with a pocketknife as Bankhead stood over him with a skillet. McGraw was stabbed in the back 59 times, his throat and neck were slashed 16
times, and his face showed three knife wounds, assistant district attorney Mike Anderton said.