Oldest death row inmate dies - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Oldest death row inmate dies

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Ray City - It's been 28 years since Ray City Police Chief Ed Giddens was murdered, but Robert Swanson remembers it like it was yesterday. "He was a real fine fellow, real easy going type guy and would do anybody a favor," said Swanson.

On the night of February 11, 1976, Giddens pulled over three suspects in an Adel grocery mart robbery. "He had them spread eagle on the hood of his car and they jumped him," said Swanson. "They shot him right here, here and here with a 22 pistol and the final round came right here and cut the front lobe of the brain."

Swanson was chief investigator for the Berrien County Sheriff's Department and a personal friend of Giddens. He was part of the search team who found Giddens' body, and helped apprehend the suspects. "We searched a lot of different country roads and highways," said Swanson.

One of the suspects, Henry Willis the third, was executed in 1989. Larry Fleming was sentenced to life in prison and the supposed ringleader, Son Fleming also received the death sentence.

Fleming's execution was delayed because his lawyers claimed he was mentally handicapped. He was the oldest inmate on death row. Tuesday, the 72-year-old died in prison of natural causes. Swanson says his death is long overdue. "I think its a good riddance, a guy like that is no better than a mad dog," said Swanson.

And now that his murderer is dead, Giddens friends and family will finally have some sense of closure.

posted by ashley.harper@walb.com