The last words Paul Warner Powell spoke were probably his final meal request or the last conversation he had with his parents. He sat perfectly still as he was placed in the electric chair and, when given the opportunity to speak, Powell Warner Powell sat dart-eyed and silent.
Others may argue that the last words Paul Warner Powell offered the world were contained in the letters he sent to the Attorney for the Commonwealth of Prince William County, Paul Ebert or to the mother of the two teenage girls he brutalized, Lorraine Reed. If one were to consider these two items his last words, it would be on the grounds that they undoubtedly sealed the young man’s fate and sent him to the electric chair.
In the early afternoon of January 9th, 1999, Paul Warner Powell had a plan in mind to teach 16 year old Stacey Lynn Reed a lesson. Powell had been interested in Reed, and had made advances on several occasions to Reed’s disapproval. Reed had a boyfriend, African American Sean Wilkerson, and this upset Powell greatly as he was a self-acclaimed white supremacist.
He often visited with the Reed family in their home in Manassas, Virginia, so it was not an out-of-the-ordinary occurrence that he stopped by on this afternoon. With the only person home being 16 year old Stacey, he decided today was the day he would make his desires known. After being rejected by Stacey when he made his advance, Powell stabbed Reed repeatedly and then stomped on the girl’s throat.
He then proceeded to go downstairs and pour a glass of iced tea, and as he drank it Stacey’s younger sister, Kristie, came home and asked him where her sister was. Powell proceeded to drag Kristie down the basement stairs, where he raped and stabbed the young girl numerous times. Kristie, however, survived her attack.
Paul Warner Powell was convicted of Capital Murder on top of numerous subsequent charges making him eligible for Capital Punishment on May 6th, 2000. In what should have been an open-and-shut case, he was granted an appeal and had his sentence overturned on April 20th, 2001. The outcome of the appeal was based on two factors.
Powell was released with a new trial date for lesser charges, charges that wouldn’t allow him to be eligible for the electric chair.
After his release, Powell felt invincible to the law, as though he had really won an enormous victory. In his desire to gloat, and perhaps utter absent-mindedness, he sat down and wrote a letter to the prosecuting attorney in his case, Paul Ebert. In his letter he stated all of the events that actually occurred, in their true chronological order.
Completely convinced he couldn’t be recharged with capital murder, Powell mistakenly assumed he could then tell the prosecution exactly what truly happened. He wrote a letter to his then girlfriend as well, stating how he had planned the entire day, including the murder of the Reed girls’ parents (which he didn’t carry out).
Then, Powell wrote a letter to Lorraine Reed, who was now reliving her daughters’ attack every day with the knowledge that Powell was walking freely while awaiting his new trial. In it, he asked her to identify the resemblance of a half-naked girl whose picture he had enclosed in the envelope. The girl in the picture undoubtedly resembled Lorraine’s deceased daughter, Stacey.
The one thing Powell didn’t take into account while writing these letters was the fact that in them he also admitted to withholding testimony, and not realizing he was being brought back in on different charges, he expressed his clear intent to commit homicide.
The letters he sent to his girlfriend, Paul Ebert, and Lorraine Reed proved beyond a doubt that he was guilty of Capital Murder. Powell was found guilty of the second charge of Capital Murder and sentenced to death.
After a begrudging process of appeal and denial, Powell was executed by electric chair in March of 2010.
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