10 February 2006 :President Bush has been asked to authorize the executions of two men who have been on the military’s death row at Fort Leavenworth for a combined 35 years.
Not since President John F. Kennedy was in office has the military presented the commander in chief with such a request.
The military’s recommendation is a significant step in the cases against Ronald A. Gray and Dwight J. Loving, because an inmate cannot be executed without the president’s consent.
“The president has the discretion on when and if he wants to sign the documents. There’s no timeline that the president has to follow. It can be carried out in this administration or it can be transferred to the next,” said Lt. Col. Pamela Hart, an Army spokes-woman at the Pentagon.
Loving arrived on death row in 1989. He had been convicted of killing two taxicab drivers while he was an Army private at Fort Hood, Texas.
Gray has been on death row since April 1988, Fort Leavenworth officials said. He was convicted of rape, sodomy and multiple murders while stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Seven death row inmates are housed at the US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth.
John A. Bennett was the last military inmate executed at Fort Leavenworth.
He was hanged in 1961 after being convicted of the rape and attempted murder of an 11-year-old Austrian girl.
The Army has long executed military inmates at Fort Leavenworth. However, recent military changes open the door for the executions at other federal facilities.
A new Disciplinary Barracks was opened at Fort Leavenworth in 2002.
Although Army officials constructed a space for an execution chamber, they stopped short of equipping and laying out the area for the military’s present method of execution, lethal injection.