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Inmates Keep to Themselves Following Briley Execution

April 19, 1985 GMT

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Inmates who tried to disrupt the execution of triple-murderer James D. Briley with a bloody uprising broke a few cell windows but were subdued after his death in the electric chair, authorities said Friday.

″There has not been much reaction,″ said Maj. Edward E. Wright, the prison’s chief of security. ″They’re keeping that pretty much to themselves. That (the execution) is over and done with.″

Briley, who led the largest death-row breakout in U.S. history May 31, followed his brother to the electric chair Thursday night. He was pronounced dead at 11:07 p.m.


The inmates, who were locked in their cells after prisoners with makeshift weapons attacked guards Thursday morning, were taken to meals in small groups Friday, he said.

Officials said the disturbance, which injured nine guards and one inmate, was designed to delay the execution. At least four guards underwent surgery for stab wounds.

Briley, whose brother Linwood died in the same electric chair Oct. 12, was executed for the 1979 murders of Judy Barton, 23, and her 5-year-old son, Harvey, in their Richmond home. Briley was also convicted of raping Ms. Barton, who was pregnant at the time, and murdering her common-law husband, Harvey Wilkerson.

″He had no final statement,″ said Kathi King, the prison’s operations officer. ″He smiled. He asked the witnesses twice, ’Are you happy?‴

″I had to stop and think about the people that were killed,″ said Katherine Allen, a Richmond sheriff’s department employee and one of nine people to view the execution.

″They wanted to live. The unborn baby didn’t have a chance to be born. The little boy didn’t have a chance to grow up,″ she said. ″It (the execution) is a sad thing to have to be done, but it did have to be done.″

Outside the prison, protesters for and against the death penalty faced off across a busy four-lane thoroughfare during the execution. About a dozen people were about for minor drug offenses, disorderly conduct, drinking in public and carrying concealed weapons.

Briley’s family remained in their Richmond home, including Evangeline Briley, a 44-year-old freelance writer who wed the condemned murderer March 28.

Mrs. Briley has said she plans to write a book about James and Linwood Briley, who also led a six-man death row escape from Mecklenburg Correctional Center on May 31.


But Shirley Barton Hayes, the mother of Judy Barton, said Friday she would sue for any money gained from the planned book.

Briley’s execution came about two hours after his lawyers abandoned their last-ditch attempt to spare his life.

Earlier in the day, a group of inmates staged a disturbance which prison officials said was aimed at delaying the execution. Nine guards and one inmate were hurt in the brief fracas.