Paul Werner Powell, sentenced to death for rape and murder, sat perfectly still as he was placed in the electric chair and, when given the opportunity to say any last words, Powell sat dark-eyed and silent. The last words Paul Warner Powell spoke were probably his final meal request or the last conversation he had with his parents or the family of the girl he murdered, Stacie Reed.
According to the Washington Post, Reed's family spoke with Powell by phone the day before his execution and said that he had acknowledged the crime "was a senseless and pointless thing" and said he was sorry.
Others may argue that the last words Paul Warner Powell offered the world were contained in the letters he sent to the Attorney for the Commonwealth of Prince William County, Paul Ebert, or to the mother of the two teenage girls he brutalized, Lorraine Reed. If one were to consider these two items his last words, it would be on the grounds that they undoubtedly sealed Powell’s fate and sent him to the electric chair.
In the early afternoon of January 29th, 1999, Paul Warner Powell had a plan in mind to teach 16-year-old Stacie Lynn Reed a lesson. Powell had been interested in Reed and had made advances on several occasions, to Reed’s disapproval. Reed had a boyfriend, Sean Wilkerson, who was African American and this upset Powell as he was a self-proclaimed white supremacist.
He had visited the Reed's in their home in Manassas, Virginia before, so it was not an out-of-the-ordinary occurrence that he stopped by on this afternoon. With the only person home being Stacie, he decided today was the day he would make his desires known. After being rejected by Stacie when he made his advance, Powell stabbed her repeatedly in the chest, puncturing her heart.
He then took the time to go downstairs and pour a glass of iced tea, and as he drank it Stacie’s younger sister, Kristie, came home and asked him where her sister was. Powell proceeded to drag Kristie down the basement stairs, where he raped and stabbed the young girl numerous times. Kristie, however, survived her attack.
Paul Warner Powell was convicted of Capital Murder, on top of numerous subsequent charges, on May 6th, 2000, making him eligible for Capital Punishment. In what should have been an open-and-shut case, he was granted an appeal and had his sentence overturned on April 20th, 2001. The outcome of the appeal was based on two factors.
- The form the jury read regarding the verdict and sentencing failed to clearly state that the jury had the option of sentencing him to life imprisonment rather than the death penalty.
- When the timing of the events given in Powell’s testimony was reviewed, it revealed that the sequence of events did not occur in the correct order to charge Powell with Capital Murder.
Powell was instead given three life sentences for lesser charges, charges that would make him ineligible for the death penalty.
Mistakenly convinced that he couldn’t be recharged with Capital Murder, Powell wrote an abusive letter to the prosecuting attorney in his case, Paul Ebert. In his letter he admitted all of the events that actually occurred, including attempting to rape Stacie, and stating them in their true chronological order.
"I guess I forgot to mention these events when I was being questioned. Ha Ha!" he wrote. "Do you just hate yourself for being so stupid ... and saving me?"
He wrote a letter to his then girlfriend as well, telling her how he had planned the entire day, including the murder of the Reed girls’ parents (which he didn’t carry out).
Powell also wrote a letter to Lorraine Reed, the mother of Stacie and Kristie. In it, he asked her to identify the resemblance of a half-naked girl whose picture he had enclosed in the envelope, telling her she reminded him of someone. The girl in the picture undoubtedly resembled Stacie.
The one thing Powell didn’t take into account while writing these letters was the fact that in them he admitted to withholding testimony, and not realizing he was being brought back in on different charges, he expressed his clear intent to commit homicide.
The letters he sent to his girlfriend, Paul Ebert, and Lorraine Reed proved beyond doubt that he was guilty of Capital Murder and Powell was sentenced to death.
After a long process of appeal and denial, Powell was executed by electric chair on March 18th, 2010.