Nevada has long history of inflicting capital punishment
October 11, 2007
Nevada has been imposing capital punishment since before statehood.
According to State Archivist Guy Rocha, the first known execution order was in November 1860 when a judge ordered the death of John Carr for the murder of Bernhard Cherry.
Since then, the state has conducted some 60 executions using the hangman’s rope, shooting, the gas chamber and lethal injection.
There is no comprehensive list of legal executions before 1903 because, until then, they were conducted at the county seat where the person was convicted. Counting Carr’s hanging in Carson City, there are 20 known executions before 1903 including the first black man, Sam Mills, in 1877, and the first American Indian, Indian Dave, in 1885.
The only woman ever executed in Nevada was Elizabeth Potts, hanged with her husband Josiah in 1890 in Elko.
The only other woman ever put on Nevada’s death row was Priscilla Ford, who rammed her car into Thanksgiving crowds in downtown Reno in 1980, killing six and seriously injuring more than 20 others. She died of emphysema at age 75 in January 2005.
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In 1875, the Legislature banned public executions and in 1901 lawmakers ordered that all executions be conducted at the Nevada State Prison in Carson City.
The largest multiple execution in Nevada history occurred in November 1905 when four men were hanged at the prison.
The 1911 Legislature gave inmates the option of hanging or being shot to death, but the only man to take them up on the firing squad was Andriza Mircovich, who was killed by an automated rack of three rifles mounted on a frame in May 1913.
In 1921, the Legislature ordered lethal gas as the state’s method of execution. Nevada became the first state in the nation to gas an inmate in February 1924 when Gee Jon was executed.
A total of 32 men died in Nevada’s gas chamber between 1924 and 1979 when Jesse Bishop became the last to die by gas.
Prior to Richard Moran in 1996, the last involuntary execution was of Thayne Archibald in August 1961. The others, including Bishop, rejected further appeals and told the courts they didn’t want to fight the penalty any longer.
The state adopted lethal injection in 1983. Since then, 11 men including Moran have been executed by injection.
Unless he changes his mind, Castillo will be the 13th inmate executed in Nevada since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty.
One other inmate, Robert McConnell, called it off in June 2005 just 30 minutes before he was scheduled to die. He remains one of the 83 men on Nevada’s death row.
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