Charles Anthony Nealy, who was executed on March 20

Witness to the Execution

On March 2o, a man from Michigan came down to Texas to witness the execution of Charles Anthony Nealy, who was sentenced to death in 1998 for robbing and killing two convenience-store clerks in South Dallas in August 1997. That man was Doug Tjapkes, an author who runs the Christian-based nonprofit INNOCENT, which tries to free those it believes to be "wrongly convicted prisoners." Nealy was one of those prisoners: His friends and family operated a Web site on which they begged for a new trial, and in November, Nealy's nephew recanted his damning testimony, claiming Dallas prosecutors threatened to charge him with the capital offense if he didn't testify against his uncle. A state appeals court delayed the execution, which was eventually carried out last month.

In today's story from the Grand Haven Tribune, Tjapkes said he became Nealy's "spiritual advisor," and he discusses what it was like to witness his first execution. "They handle it like business as usual," he tells the paper, but only because it is. --Robert Wilonsky

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