March 10 -Both Men Pronounced Dead in Seven Minutes
The end of two ropes from which dangled dead-broken-necked bodies of Molton Brasseaux and Joe Genna shortly after noon yesterday was the end of the most gruesome murder chapter in this section of Louisiana’s criminal history.
It was the end of the lives of two young men who by their own act created an episode to be the most eventful and most tragic.
This end was the fulfillment of the primitive law of an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
In the plain wicker baskets in which the limp bodies of Brasseaux and Genna fell when the ropes were cut after the execution was the receipt to the state of Louisiana and society for the debt these youths had incurred for murdering J.J. Brevelle 18 months ago.
“Paid in full,” so far as the state and society were concerned, might have been written as a waybill on those wicker baskets. Genna and Brasseaaux took a life and their own lives were taken for so doing.
One could not contemplate as the youths were lead out of their cells into a few short seconds of sunlight. One, Genna, dying anyhow because of a poisoning attempt 24 hours ago, the other Brasseaux walking into his death with a fair amount of bravado.
The two youths herded by the agents of society, their young faces getting the last glimpse of things mortal, were indeed pitiful looking subjects. No matter what their conduct might have been, the fact they were on the verge of soon leaving this world for the greater mystery beyond, would have excused any action on their part.
Genna, the younger of the two, his system poisoned with bichloride of mercury, his insides literally burned into bits; no doubt had been strengthened by his suicide attempt for the execution. No doubt he had tasted in part the experience of death creeping over him in the poisoning episode. He had been unable to sleep the last night he was to be alive.
So it is doubtful that he, a dying man anyhow, his body wracked, his soul seared, his nerves shot to bits could see in the large scaffold and trap anything more painful that the state he was in. His last five minutes of his life the afternoon were merely a preparation for his demise. Fixing of the harness around his legs and shoulder, tightening of the noose and testing the scaffold.
What went on in the mind of Joe Genna in that five minutes he was being prepared for his death is left only to the imagination. He said nothing. He was weak, probably from fear but he was deathly sick from poisoning, too. His glazed eyes looked out into the faces of other human beings for whom he was furnishing the rare spectacle of a human life being taken legally before witnesses.
The black cap went over his head and the last glimpse of the world in which he had been such a sad failure was ended for Genna. Whether the darkness of the cap made it any less the dark for Genna is problematic. The cap is placed over the face because the eyeballs of the victim usually burst out when the trap is sprung.
At 12:30 the trap was sprung, the body of Genna hurtled fast as the rope unwound, it came in a sickening stop and the neck broke and the body swayed back and forth, Genna taking seven minutes to choke to death and die from the broken neck.
Brasseaux who had taken no poison was brought out next. He was in fine physical shape in a sense. He waved goodbye to the prison cook, declared his innocence and went on the scaffold with a smile, though a forced one.
Brasseaux had heard his pal’s body hurtling the 15 feet, the distance between life and death at an execution, when the trap had been sprung and Genna’s body had come to the sudden stop that meant his death. Shortly after one o’clock Brasseaux was standing in the same place where Genna had been alive for a few minutes before.
Brasseaux did not collapse. He took a last look at his executioners and witnesses. The same procedure as with Genna was gone through. Soon his 130 pounds of mortality was descending the 13 feet from the top of the trap in the end of the rope. It took him seven minutes to die.
His execution was also pronounced a “perfect” one.