Velma Barfield Put to Death

Published: 1984
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI

Ron Colbert: On the morning of November 2nd, 52-year-old grandmother Velma Barfield became the first woman put to death in this country since 1962, 6 years after being convicted of the poisoning death of her ex-fiancé. In late September, her request for clemency was denied by Governor Jim Hunt …

Governor Jim Hunt: "As Governor, I have a … a responsibility to make the right decision in the interests of justice and the protection of our people. I am satisfied I have made that decision."

Ron Colbert: Hunt said Barfield's actions were deliberate and too serious to warrant commuting her sentence to life in prison. The longsuffering daughter of her victim, Alice Taylor Storms, was pleased with that decision …

Alice Taylor Storms: "He could have gone either way, which way he thought would benefit him the most; but by him going on the -- the merit of the case, I think it was very courageous of him."

Ron Colbert: Five days before her death, Barfield agreed to allow her lawyers to fight the execution; however, appeals to a U.S. District Court judge in Raleigh and a Federal Appeals Court panel in Richmond, Virginia were denied, and that's when she gave up …

Jimmy Little: "Her decision not to seek review by the United States Supreme Court is based on the fact that that Court has consistently refused to look at the merits of her legal issues."

Ron Colbert: Attorney Jimmy Little says he's disappointed that no Court accepted his request for a new trial on the valid arguments he presented.

Her son, Ronnie Burke, said shortly after the execution took place that his mother hoped her death would help the families of her victims put their lives back together. She also admitted to poisoning three other people, one of them being her own mother.

Ron Colbert, Raleigh.