Jerry Givens, executioner turned death-penalty critic, dies

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This Jan. 15, 2013 file photo shows Virginia’s former chief executioner Jerry Givens in Richmond, Va. Givens, who served as Virginia’s chief executioner for 17 years before going to prison and becoming a prominent voice against capital punishment has died. Jerry Givens was 67. His son, Terence Travers, says Givens died Monday, April 13, 2020 in Henrico, which is outside of Richmond. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via AP)

HENRICO, Va. (AP) — A man who served as Virginia’s chief executioner for 17 years before going to prison and becoming a prominent voice against capital punishment has died. Jerry Givens was 67.

His son, Terence Travers, says Givens died Monday in Henrico, which is outside of Richmond. Travers didn’t provide a cause of death but said his father had pneumonia and had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Givens spoke out against the death penalty in talks throughout the country. He described the job’s grim intimacy and emotional toll as well as his fears of killing the innocent.

Givens served as Virginia’s executioner from 1982 to 1999. He said he presided over 62 executions.

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