Death Row : Fail

The oldest inmate on death row in the U.S. has died of natural causes at the age of 94.

Viva Leroy Nash was said to be deaf, nearly blind and suffering from dementia when he died Friday at a state prison in Arizona. He spent most of his life behind bars for murdering two people, robbery and assorted other crimes.

Nash grew up in southern Utah at a time when it was “the wild, wild West,” according to his lawyer, Thomas Phalen, and had been jailed almost continuously since he was 15. 

Arizona Department of Correction / AP
Viva Leroy Nash, here in an undated photo, was said to be deaf, nearly blind and suffering from dementia when he died.

“Think about it – he had 15 years of life in southern Utah,” went to prison for an armed robbery in 1930, and “remained in prison for the next 80 years, more or less,” Phalen told the Associated Press. Despite his lifetime of crime, Phalen saw Nash as an “old cowboy,” the news agency said, a man who still used words like “bushwhacked.”

Nash, who was confined to a wheelchair, suffered a series of heart attacks, and, according to Phalen, had been moved to the prison’s medical facility because he was mentally unfit. But a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Corrections told the AP on Sunday that he did not know if Nash was in his death row cell or the medical center at the time of his death.

Nash was jailed for 15 years in Leavenworth, Kan., after his first offense at the age of 30, Phalen says.

He was then imprisoned for 25 years for twice shooting a Connecticut police officer in 1947, who managed to survive. In 1977 he received two life sentences for a robbery and murder in Salt Lake City.

But Nash escaped prison in 1982 and three weeks later, on Nov. 3, 1982, demanded money from an employee, Greggory West, at a coin shop in Phoenix. West died after Nash shot him three times.

As Nash tried to escape, a nearby shop owner tried to stop him by pointing a gun at him. While Nash tried to wrestle the gun away, he was arrested by a police officer, and later convicted of first-degree murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault and theft.

Nash managed to stave off his execution through a series of appeals. At the time of his death state prosecutors were appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court a lower court ruling in September that Nash was entitled to a hearing to determine if he was competent to assist in his defense.

A THOUGHT: Although in this case, technically, this inmate “did” die on Death Row. However, as it was of natural causes after 28 years on Death Row, the system once again shows how it fails to follow through on it’s own judgments.

I’m not saying that I am or am not an advocate of the death penalty. I am merely stating that the legal system has failed once again to show that it works (regardless of the situation).


About Chase Morgan
Chase Morgan is just your average, ordinary All-American writer. Chase began writing several years ago, but never published anything until the "Are You Friggen' Kidding Me?" blog launched in August of 2009. Chase simply got tired of standing around and just observing all of the craziness in the world, so this anxious writer sat down and wrote the first "Are YOu Friggen' Kidding Me?" article on August 19th, 2009. Now, any time something makes Chase say, "Are You Friggen' Kidding Me?", the issue get's transformed into an article. Chase is currently single, homeless and living under a bridge in South Florida.

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