Originally created 05/15/04

Inmate is likely to face chair for death

COLUMBIA - James Neal Tucker will likely be the first inmate to die in the electric chair in South Carolina since 1996.

Mr. Tucker had until midnight Friday to choose lethal injection. At 5 p.m., he had not filed any paperwork with the Corrections Department, state officials said.

Mr. Tucker will be put to death May 28 for killing Rosa Lee "Dolly" Oakley in her Sumter County home.

Because Mr. Tucker was sentenced to death in December 1992, under state law he will die in the electric chair unless he chooses lethal injection. Inmates sentenced after June 1995 are put to death by lethal injection unless they choose electrocution.

Mr. Tucker's attorneys have not returned several calls from The Associated Press.

Mr. Tucker dropped his final appeal a couple of days before his execution date was set earlier this month.

If Mr. Tucker is electrocuted, he will be only the second inmate to die in the electric chair since the state started offering lethal injection a decade ago.

The last electrocution in the United States was Eric Bramblett on April 9, 2003, in Virginia, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Mr. Tucker will be put to death for killing Ms. Oakley, who was in her yard in June 1992 when Mr. Tucker pulled out a gun and forced her back into her home. He took $14 from her purse, shot her twice in the head and left, authorities said.

Mr. Tucker also faces a second death sentence in Calhoun County.

According to prison regulations, Mr. Tucker has been taken to a special management unit on death row at the Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville. He will be taken to the death house at the Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia within a day or so of his execution date.

Authorities say Mr. Tucker has spent most of his adult life in prison.

He was behind bars in Utah from 1974 to 1991, serving time for rape, burglary and theft.


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