Executions · New Jersey · Newspaper clippings

Double hanging — one execution is botched, the other involves a man who was mentally ill or disabled

January 3, 1884
Newark, New Jersey
Two men are executed for murder in a double hanging

The execution of Robert Martin, convicted of killing his wife and their infant as she held the baby, was botched. The Harrisburg Independent reported “the poor wretch who was condemned to suffer death at the hands of the law underwent his punishment more as if he had been a dog than a human being.” Martin’s arms were not restrained at his sides properly, allowing him to raise his hands and clutch the noose as he strangled to death.

The second condemned man, James B. Graves, apparently “lacked all those human attributes which even the most callous in such an awful position exhibit” and was “idiotic or insane in his actions.” (“Idiotic” in this case meaning someone with severe intellectual disabilities, with an IQ range of 0-25. For context, an average adult has an IQ of 100.) Graves was executed for the murder of Edward Soden — a 13-year-old lamp-lighter — “for revenge.”

Sources:
“Two Executions in an Hour.” The Harrisburg Independent. January 3, 1884
New York Times. January 21, 1882
“Chronology And Necrology.” Monmouth Democrat [Freehold, New Jersey]. January 6, 1881

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