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Monday, June 17, 2013

Death row diary offers a rare glimpse into a morbid world

CNNNot much is written in the way of obituaries for people who are put to death. They are convicted criminals; many are guilty of unspeakable cruelty.

We hear of death row cases when controversy swirls about a prisoner's guilt, as was the case of Troy Davis, the Georgia man executed in 2011 despite the recanting of numerous witnesses whose testimony helped convict him. Or when a crime is so heinous that it gains notoriety for the perpetrator, such as serial killer Ted Bundy, who confessed to 30 murders.

William Van Poyck's story was known for another reason.

Sentenced for murder in 1988, he spent 25 years in jail before he was declared dead at 7:24 p.m. Wednesday by lethal injection in a Florida prison. But it was not his sordid criminal narrative that drew international attention. It's what he accomplished from his tiny cell.

Death row inmates deal with their demons in different ways. Some clutch their faith. Others draw or paint or read voraciously. Van Poyck chose to write.

He published three books, wrote his own appeals and penned long letters to his sister, Lisa. He mused over many things -- corrupt politicians, hurricanes and movies. He liked "The Aviator," the Howard Hughes biopic. continue reading...

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