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Dead Guy: Charles Singleton

The victim, Mary Lou York, was murdered in York’s Grocery Store at Hamburg on June 1, 1979. She died from loss of blood as a result of two stab wounds in her neck. Patti Franklin saw her relative Charles Singleton enter York’s Grocery at approximately 7:30 p.m. on the day of the crime. Shortly after he entered Patti heard Mrs. York scream, “Patti go get help, Charles Singleton is killing me.” Patti then ran for help. Another witness, Lenora Howard, observed Singleton exit the store and shortly thereafter witnessed Mary Lou, who was “crying and had blood on her,” come to the front door. 19 year old York, the owner of the store, identified Singleton to responding police officers and doctor shortly before her death.

Ashley County Ledger

"York Murderer Dies by Injection; 7th Execution Date is Final for Singleton," By Warren Watkins.

A full moon illuminated the ice-cold prison courtyard as volunteer executioners administered final earthly justice for Charles Singleton, 44, also known as Victor Ra Hakim. Singleton was executed by lethal injection at 8:02 p.m. at the Cummins unit of the Arkansas Department of Corrections Tues., Jan. 6, 24 years after being convicted and sentenced to death by an Ashley County court for the 1979 murder of Mary Lou York in Hamburg.

Singleton's mental health had been an issue over the years, causing some to object to the state putting a arguably insane man to death. A CNN reporter interviewed Singleton a week before his execution and found him to be expectedly paranoid, ranting, and raving. However, the journalist found the murderer easily able to understand that he was about to be put to death for the murder he committed, and thus by the legal standard, sane.

Eighteen witnesses crowded into a tiny observation room for the efficient, clinical event, which took only four minutes. After opening drapes behind heavy glass windows on one side of the room, a warden announced the execution was about to take place and asked Singleton if he had any last words.

Singleton said he had planned to say something, but had written his words down and given them to the warden instead. Afterward, a copy of the letter, which was indecipherable spiritual gibberish, was given to the media.

With his head shaved and head held in a heavy leather strap, Singleton appeared to be ready for surgery. A man in civilian clothes, wearing a headset and speaking into its microphone, stood at the prisoner's head and watched a monitor.

As the intravenous drip began, Singleton released a sudden breath, his chest moved up and down twice, and he quietly stopped breathing. His thumb and middle finger on his right hand were lightly touching, as if he were meditating for peaceful focus, and never released.

Singleton was unbuckled, examined with a stethoscope, and pronounced dead by the Lincoln County coroner at 8:06 p.m.

In the warden's office at the prison, York's son, daughter, nephew, and two granddaughters watched the events on closed-circuit television, but did not appear for the press afterwards. Families of perpetrators, if they show up for the execution, are held at a roadblock a mile from the prison's entrance.

This was the seventh execution date for Singleton. In 1980 he came with 7 days of execution, in 1982 he came within 18 days once and within 3 days on another occasion, within 11 days in 1993, two days in 1998, and six days in 2001. He spent just over 23 years on death row.

Inmates on death row in Arkansas total 39, with 16 white, 22 black, and one Hispanic, all males. Arkansas has executed 194 persons in it history: 134 black males, 57 white males, two Indian males, and one white female. While 173 of those were murderers, 20 were rapists and one was both.

Jeffrey Rosenzweig, Singleton's attorney, said he was "frustrated, disappointed, and saddened" by the execution. His client was "rational, sane, and at peace," he said.

Karl Roberts, convicted of the kidnapping-murder of his 12-year-old niece, was scheduled to be executed after Singleton. But he won a last-minute stay of execution pending an appeal.


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Thanks for posting my article on the death of Charles Singleton. I'm writing a more reflective piece now, a year later. Would you be interested in seeing it?

Warren Watkins