The execution of a northeast Indiana man just after midnight this morning was the first to take place under a law guaranteeing the right of victims’ relatives to witness the convicted’s death. David Woods was convicted in 1985 of stabbing 77-year-old Juan Placencia to death. Five of Placencia’s 12 children made the trip to Michigan City from as far away as California to see Woods put to death. Until last year, Woods would have decided who witnessed his death.
A law signed by Governor Daniels last year changed that rule. Now the condemned are allowed pick only five witnesses. Family members are guaranteed at least three seats, as well as any that aren’t used by those invited by the condemned. Republican Senator Tom Wyss of Fort Wayne wrote the new law. He says some families won’t want to watch, but believes the decision should be theirs.
Woods was only 19 in April of 1984 when he went to Placencia’s house with two accomplices to steal his television. The two were neighbors in Garrett, Indiana.