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James French (murderer)

James D. French (ca. 1936 – 10 August 1966) was an capital punishment in America from 1972 until 1976. He was also the only prisoner executed in the United States that year.[1] Already in prison for life for killing a motorist who had picked him up from hitchhiking in 1958, but allegedly afraid to commit suicide, French murdered his cellmate, apparently to compel the state to execute him.[2][3]

French's last words before his death by electric chair were "How's this for your headline? 'French Fries'".[4]

This was the last execution by electric chair in the United States before Furman v. Georgia; after the moratorium on capital punishment was lifted, the first electrocution was John Spenkelink in 1979 in Florida.


  1. ^ Staff report. (Feb. 17, 1967) The Dying Death Penalty. Time
  2. ^ van Wormer, Katherine (12/8/1995). Execution-inspired murder a form of suicide? Journal of Offender Rehabilitation Volume: 22 Issue: 3/4
  3. ^ White, Welsh S. (1991). The Death Penalty in the Nineties: An Examination of the Modern System of Capital Punishment. University of Michigan Press. p. 178. 
  4. ^ Tibballs, Geoff (2004). The Mammoth Book of Zingers, Quips, and One-Liners. Carroll & Graf. ISBN 978-0-7867-1407-0

External links

  • French v. State, 1966 OK CR 84 416 P.2d 171.
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