Orlando Hall: Arkansas man who kidnapped, raped Texas teen before burying her alive executed by lethal injection
Hall, after being 25 years on death row, invited others to embrace Islam, thanked those who supported him, and told them: 'I am okay'
Orlando Hall, an Arkansas man who kidnapped and gang-raped a teen before dousing her in gas and burying her alive, was executed by lethal injection on Thursday, November 19. Hall was pronounced dead at 11:47 pm in Terre Haute, Indiana, making him the eighth federal inmate to have been executed this year. The Justice Department had announced Hall's execution date on September 30. In his final moments, Hall, after being 25 years on death row, invited others to embrace Islam, thanked those who supported him, and told them: "I am okay." Hall, after a statement recounting his crime was read out, told his supporters: "Take care of yourselves. Tell my kids I love them.”
The death row inmate was arrested in 1994 along with five others, who according to prosecutors kidnapped 16-year-old Lisa Rene from her home in Arlington, Texas, and eventually gang-raped and killed her. The group of men reportedly abducted the teen to get revenge on her two brothers for a botched $5,000 marijuana deal. According to federal court documents, Hall was a marijuana trafficker in Pine Bluff, who would sometimes buy drugs in the Dallas area. In 1994, he met two men at a Dallas-area car wash and gave them $4,700 with the expectation they would return later with marijuana. The two men were Rene’s brothers. Instead, the men claimed their car and money were stolen. Hall and others figured they were lying and the men reportedly traveled to Arlington to confront the brothers but they only found the men's sister at home and kidnapped her at gunpoint. Rene, over the following two days, was taken to an Arkansas hotel, where she was gang-raped. The men later took the teen to a park where they bludgeoned her with a shovel and buried her alive.
Although all the five men involved in the brutal case were arrested and charged for Rene's murder, it was just Hall and one other, Bruce Webster, who faced capital punishment by the federal government. The other three suspects in the case were instead permitted to sign plea deals for their prison time in exchange for testifying against Hall and Webster. Those three men have been released from prison after they served their sentences.
Hall's attorneys, Marcia A Widder and Robert C Owen, had condemned the federal government's attempt to execute the 49-year-old in September. In a joint statement to MEAWW, the attorneys had said that their client's trial was unfair because he was sentenced by an "all-White jury."
"Orlando Hall, a Black man, was sentenced to death by an all-White jury. Mr Hall has never denied the role he played in the tragic death of Lisa Rene. But the jury that sentenced him to death did not know key facts about his background, and the path toward personal redemption that Mr Hall has followed in prison shows that he is not among the ‘worst of the worst’ for whom the death penalty is properly reserved," the statement said.
“The proceedings that led to Mr Hall’s death sentence were marked by racial bias and incompetent lawyering. During jury selection, the prosecution team enlisted the help of a former state prosecutor known for keeping Black citizens from serving on criminal juries. With his help, an all-White jury was seated to decide Mr Hall’s fate," the statement continued. "In the years since Mr Hall’s trial, the US Supreme Court has expressly found that this very prosecutor, in a trial that preceded Mr Hall’s, discriminated against Black potential jurors on account of their race and then lied under oath in an attempt to conceal his racist conduct. In this way, Mr Hall’s case also reflects the significant and troubling racial disparities in the operation of the federal death penalty, in which 60% of those currently on federal death row are people of color, including 45% who are Black."
"Indeed, just this year the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the only tribunal ever to meaningfully consider Mr Hall’s claims of racial injustice, concluded that Mr Hall was sentenced to death in violation of the 'most basic human right' of equality before the law," the attorneys added.