common-law husband, George Sibley Jr., 62, was
executed by injection lethal for the same crime on
August 4, 2005
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder:
Date of birth:
Victim profile: Roger Lamar Motley,
39 (Opelika Police Sergeant)
Method of murder:
Location: Lee County, Alabama, USA
electrocution in Alabama on May 10,
Block, 54, and her common-law husband, George Sibley Jr., were on
the run after failing to appear on a domestic battery charge.
With Block's 9 year old son in the car, they stopped so Block could
use the telephone in a Walmart parking lot.
Opelika Police Sergeant Roger Lamar Motley had just finished lunch
and was shopping for supplies for the jail when a woman came up to
him and told him there was a car in the parking lot with a little
The woman was worried about him. She was afraid that the family was
living in their car. Would he check on them? Motley cruised up and
down the rows of parked cars and finally pulled up behind the
Sibley was in the car with the boy, waiting for Block to finish a
call to a friend from a pay phone in front of the store. Motley
asked Sibley for his drivers license. Sibley said he didn't need one.
He was trying to explain why when Motley put his hand on his service
Sibley reached into the car and pulled out a gun. Motley uttered a
four-letter expletive and spun away to take cover behind his cruiser.
Sibley crouched by the bumper of the Mustang.
People in the parking lot screamed, hid beneath their cars and ran
back into the store as the men began firing at each other.
Preoccupied by the threat in front of him, Motley did not see Lynda
Block until the very last moment. She had dropped the phone, pulling
the 9mm Glock pistol from her bag as she ran toward the scene,
firing. Motley turned.
She remembered later how surprised he looked.
She kept on firing. She could tell that a bullet struck him in the
chest. Staggering, he reached into the cruiser. She kept on firing,
thinking he was trying to get a shotgun. But he was grabbing for the
radio. "Double zero," he managed to say -- the code for help. He
died in a nearby hospital that afternoon.
In letters to friends and supporters, Block later would describe
Motley as a "bad cop" and a wife beater with multiple complaints
against him. As part of the conspiracy against her, she said, she
was prohibited from bringing up his record in court. His personnel
file makes no mention of any misbehavior. His wife says he was a
kind and patient man. Both Block and Sibley received deeath
True to their "patriot" ideologies, Block waived her appeals. She
has refused to accept the validity of Alabama’s judicial system,
claiming that Alabama never became a state again after the Civil War.
She has been completely non-cooperative with her court-appointed
attorney, who nevertheless attempted to work against her death
First execution of a female in Alabama since 1957. She is the 9th
female executed in the U.S. since reinstatement of the death penalty
Block v. State, 744 So.2d 404 (Ala.Crim.App. 1996) (Direct
Ex Parte Block, 744 So.2d 412 (Ala.Crim.App. 1996) (On Remand).
Block declined the offer to make a final statement.
Lynda Cheryl Lyon Block (February 8,
1948 in Orlando, Florida – May 10, 2002 at Holman Correctional
Facility, Alabama) was an American convicted murderess.
On October 4, 1993, a passer-by expressed concern
to Opelika police Sergeant Roger Motley about Lyon's son, who was in a
parked car with her common law husband, George Sibley, and looked as
though he wanted help. By Sibley's own account, he was explaining to
Motley, who had asked for his driver's license, why he was not
required to have one when he observed Motley placing his hand on his
service revolver. Sibley then drew his gun. Motley took cover behind
his patrol car; witnesses stated Sibley fired first. Lyon was at a
payphone when she heard gunfire. Witnesses stated that she was in a
crouched position when she fired; she claimed that she fired just as
she stopped running toward Motley. Motley, who had given his
bulletproof vest to a rookie officer, was mortally wounded in the
Part of the anti-government Patriot Movement, Lyon
and Sibley had renounced their citizenship and destroyed their birth
certificates, driver's licenses, and Social Security cards. They
refused to cooperate with their court-appointed attorneys, maintaining
that they had acted in self-defense. They also maintained that Alabama
did not have the authority to try them as it was not properly
re-admitted into the Union after the American Civil War. Although it
could not be determined who fired the fatal shot, they were both
convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. At the time of the
incident, they were on the run from Florida to escape sentencing for
an assault on Lyon's ex-husband.
While on death row, Block was held at the Julia
Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama. Block, Alabama
Institutional Serial #Z575, entered death row on December 21, 1994.
She was executed on May 10, 2002. Block's execution occurred at the
Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama.
Before the execution, three friends visited Lyon in
her final holding chamber for several hours. Lyon also saw a spiritual
adviser. She had not requested a last meal, nor made a final
statement. Though she was allowed to choose two witnesses to her
death, Lyon chose her spiritual adviser, Sally Michaud, as the only
person to view her death. Sally did not attend the execution, however.
Two witnesses to the execution were members of the victim's family,
Motley's sister Betty Anne Foshee, and his mother, Anne Motley.
Near 12:00 midnight, she entered the execution
chamber, wearing a white prison outfit. Her shaved head was covered
with a black hood. At 12:01 a.m., the current was turned on. 2,050
volts of electricity were applied to her body for 20 seconds, and then
250 volts for 100 seconds. At 12:10 a.m., she was pronounced dead. She
was the last person to be electrocuted in Alabama and the first woman
executed in the state since 1957.
Sibley filed a hand-written petition asking the
Alabama Supreme Court to block his execution, claiming that Lyon had
fired the shot that killed Motley. He was executed on 4 August 2005 by
State Executes Block
By Todd Kleffman - Montgomery Advertiser
May 10, 2002
Alabama executed Lynda Lyon Block at 12:01 a.m.
Friday for her role in killing Opelika Police Sgt. Roger Motley in
Block died at 12:10 a.m. Friday, said John Hamm, Department of
Corrections spokesman. She is the first woman executed in the state
Department of Corrections Commissioner Michael
Haley said Block walked willingly to the execution chamber and
displayed no emotion to the very end. “She had a very blank,
emotionless stare,” Haley said. “The execution was routine. There
was never any unexpected incidents.” Block declined the offer to
make a final statement.
An emotional Juanita Motley entered the witness
room but asked to be removed shortly before Block was executed. “I
went as far as I could with this,” the police officer’s widow said.
“I saw Lynda, but when they pulled back the blind to put the hood
over her face, I asked an officer to take me out.”
Motley said she
felt no closure from Block’s death and expressed compassion for her
family and friends. “My heart goes out to them,” she said. “May God
grant them the peace of mind and stamina needed in the days ahead.”
Block wore a prison outfit, with her shaved head
covered by a black hood. She wore light makeup, with mascara and a
pale shade of pink lipstick. There were no last-minute appeals from
There also were limited protests Thursday night leading up to
the execution. About nine people kept silent vigil at the Alabama
governor’s mansion on South Perry Street in Montgomery just before
midnight. It was not confirmed whether Gov. Don Siegelman was in
Block and her common-law husband, George Sibley
were both convicted for killing Motley during a gun battle in a
Wal-Mart parking lot. She was convicted of capital murder in 1994
along with Sibley, who remains on death row. Block and Sibley, who
met at a Libertarian political rally and maintained antigovernment
views, had traveled to Opelika from Florida, where they had been
convicted of assaulting Block’s ex-husband. They were on the run
from authorities with Block’s 11-year-old son. They stopped at the
Wal-Mart so Block could use a pay phone.
Motley approached the car after someone told him
there was a child in distress. Sibley pulled a gun and opened fire.
Motley was hit and took cover behind his police car, returning fire.
Block heard the gunfire, pulled a pistol from her purse and came up
on Motley from behind, firing several rounds at him.
Motley was hit
multiple times, but it was never determined whether Block or Sibley
fired the fatal shot. The heavily armed couple escaped the parking
lot but were later trapped in a police road block on Wire Road in
Lee County. They released the boy and then held police at bay for
four hours before surrendering.
Block acted as her own attorney during her trial.
She argued that she didn’t receive a fair trail from a court system
prejudiced against her because of her antigovernment beliefs. Block
refused all legal assistance during and after her trial and took no
part in any of the many appeal opportunities afforded death-row
inmates. She maintained her innocence until the end, saying she had
fired on Motley in self-defense.
Block may be the last person condemned to die in
“Yellow Mama,” the state’s electric chair, which has been in use
since 1927. On July 1, lethal injection becomes Alabama’s preferred
method of execution, though inmates can still choose to be
The Alabama Supreme Court set a May 10 execution
date for a Florida woman convicted in the 1993 shooting death of an
Opelika police officer. Barring a stay, Lynda Block would be the 1st
woman executed in Alabama since 1957.
A zealot against all manner of
government intrusion, she has refused the help of lawyers,
contending the judicial system is fraudulent and corrupt. State
prosecutors said she has no active appeal.
Block, 54, and her common-law husband, George
Sibley Jr., were convicted in the October 1993 shooting death of
officer Roger Lamar Motley while they were on the run from a
criminal case in Florida.
Roger was slain as he approached the
couple's car in a Wal-Mart parking lot. A passerby heard Block's 9-year-old
son call for help and asked the officer to see if everything was OK.
Sibley also received a death sentence and remains on death row. The
Alabama Supreme Court upheld Block's death sentence in 1999 and
Sibley's in 2000.
At trial, Sibley and Block, who has said she
prefers the name Lynda Lyon, said they fired at Motley and his
patrol car in self- defense after the officer touched his holster.
But witnesses said Sibley fired shots first and Block joined in the
shootout after the officer was wounded.
Both were sentenced to die
in part because forensics experts couldn't decide who fired the
fatal shots. At the time, the couple was fleeing from Orlando, Fla.,
to avoid being sentenced on assault convictions in the stabbing of
Block's 79-year-old former husband. They contend they were innocent
of assault and had become victims in the case themselves.
The couple have refused to pursue the death
sentence appeals they are entitled to under state law. The courts
had to appoint attorneys to represent them at trial, but they balked
at getting help from defense attorneys for the appeals. Assistant
Attorney General Beth Hughes has said Sibley and Block refused to "recognize
the jurisdiction of the Alabama courts." Block's court-appointed
defense attorney, W. David Nichols of Birmingham, said in 1999 that
she contends Alabama never became a state again after the Civil War
and its courts hold no jurisdiction.
The couple met at a Libertarian
Party meeting in 1991 and became active in its politics. They took
the position that individuals should be free from government
intrusions, eventually getting rid of their driver's licenses, car
registrations and birth certificates.
A Dangerous Game
By Michael McLeod - Orlando Sentinel
May 09, 2002
Lynda Lyon Block was never one to go along with
the crowd. As a grade-schooler, she favored books over television.
At Edgewater High School, class of 1966, she skipped rock for Ravel.
As an adult, she edited her own magazine, took long-distance sailing
trips, rode a motorcycle cross-country and joined the Libertarian
Party. It only stands to reason that she would display the same
flair for independence now, as a death-row inmate.
Block -- former Cub Scout mom, Humane Society
volunteer and Friends of the Library president -- may well become
the last murderer to die in the Alabama electric chair. The 54-year-old
Orlando native is scheduled to be executed at 12:01 a.m. Friday for
the 1993 shooting death of police Sgt. Roger Motley, a small-town
cop who thought he was coming to the aid of needy strangers in a Wal-Mart
parking lot in Opelika, Ala.
A recent change in Alabama law allows death-row
inmates to choose lethal injection over the electric chair, but it
does not take effect until July 1. That will be too late for Block.
She requested clemency in a written appeal to Gov. Don Siegelman
this week, but was tersely denied.
She had put herself on the fast
track to the electric chair by insisting on acting as her own
attorney in her trial, then refusing to cooperate with the lawyer
who was appointed to handle her appeal. "I tried my best to save her
life," said the appeals attorney, W. David Nichols. "The warden took
me down to her cell and said: 'Lynda, they're trying to fry you. You
ought to talk to this boy. He wants to help.' But she wasn't
interested." She wasn't interested because, in her view, the state
of Alabama does not exist, the legal system is corrupt, the federal
government is the result of a grand conspiracy, and she is one of
the few who knows it.
Block considers herself a member of the patriot
movement, a small but avid militia group whose advocates believe
that many of the day-to-day governmental functions that most people
take for granted -- such as income tax, birth certificates and
drivers licenses -- are illegal.
They are illegal, they argue,
because the U.S. government has been swallowed up, gradually and
surreptitiously, by power-hungry bureaucracies that have made a
mockery of the U.S. Constitution and eclipsed the intentions of the
founding fathers. Block and like-minded "constitutionalists" have a
solution. They have seceded from the United States, one by one. They
revoke official documents such as birth certificates and drivers
licenses, actions which help to make them, they claim, "Free
American Inhabitants." To support their position, they cite obscure
legal precedents, forgotten constitutional amendments and stirring
quotes from the country's founding fathers.
In her own murder trial, Block maintained that
the state of Alabama had no right to try her. She could prove, she
said, that the state had not officially rejoined the union after the
Civil War, and therefore did not exist as a governmental body. She
also argued that she had the right to shoot the police officer in
self-defense, because he had his hand on his holster as he
questioned her companion, Orlando auto mechanic George Sibley.
cited a constitutional amendment approved by Congress in 1811 that
was meant to limit the power of public employees over other
individuals. It was never ratified by the states, however. Sibley,
59, also is on death row, convicted of Motley's murder in a separate
trial. His execution date has not been set.
Michael Haley, commissioner of the Alabama
Department of Corrections, has barred interviews with Block, who was
moved this week to Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, home of
the state's electric chair. Haley said he does not want to provide
her with a platform for her political views.
But much of her story
can be pieced together from court records, interviews with people
who knew her, letters she has sent to friends and her written
responses to Orlando Sentinel questions. "The fact that I love my
country enough to be outspoken about the abuses I've seen and
encountered by government agents or agencies makes me no more 'anti-government'
than the NAACP or NOW," she writes. She has also written directly to
Congress, in a crisp, even hand on yellow legal paper, claiming the
existence of a widespread conspiracy against her, one that stretches
from the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office to the Alabama
Her cell at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in
Wetumpka, Ala., where she has lived for the past nine years, was
decorated with pictures of her hero, Abraham Lincoln, and quotes
about the perils of allowing big government to run amok. She worked
hard to keep herself neat and her dyed blond hair in place.
meticulous researcher, she has looked into what happens to a person
executed in the electric chair. "Your eyeballs explode," she wrote
to a friend. In spite of her revolutionary zeal and her insistence
that she is willing to "die for the Constitution," her voice is so
soft and her movements so hesitant that people who meet her often
come away with the impression of a lost soul rather than a fiery
Her soft-spoken ways make it easy to forget that
she is a cop killer. There was little in her life to foreshadow it.
She spent a year as a student at the old Orlando Junior College. She
worked for a time as a hairdresser. She lived in Key West, where she
volunteered for the library. She loved the opera. She read poetry.
She married, had a son, divorced. She did not fit the profile of the
kind of person drawn to militia groups, because there is no such
profile. White-collar, blue-collar, male, female -- the only
commonality that experts acknowledge is that connection to such
groups fills an emotional need. "All these people dream that they
are facing the redcoats on Lexington Green," said Chip Berlet, a
researcher at Political Research Associates in Boston who has
studied the militia movement for 25 years.
Block's mother, a 71-year-old Orlando
businesswoman who spoke on the condition that she not be identified,
said she thinks that her daughter spent her life trying to replace
her father, Orlando businessman Frank Lyon, who died when she was a
child. "She was always very idealistic," she said. "She was looking
for Prince Charming."
If that was her search, it took a strange turn in
1983, when she moved back to Orlando at the age of 35 and married
again, this time to a man twice her age. Karl Block was a
conservative, old-Orlando securities broker, a retired military man
with a deep tan and thick white hair. Block, who died two years ago
at age 87, was flattered by the attention of a younger woman.
was attracted to Lynda Lyon for another reason. Since 1974, he had
been grieving the death of his only son, who was killed in a car
accident. Block desperately wanted a male offspring to carry on the
family name. Although it made little sense for him to become a
father at his age, he was adamant. He needed a wife who could bear
him a child, no matter what people might say about the age
difference between them.
His daughter, Marie, vividly remembers
encountering her future stepmother in the early 1980s and
recognizing her as a former high-school classmate. But the studious,
brown-haired girl she had known at Edgewater High had been
transformed into a boisterous woman, clattering with jewelry, long
nails lacquered, hair dyed jet black.
The only thing unchanged were
her blue eyes, so huge that she seemed to be transfixed in an
expression of permanent surprise. Marie Block assumed Lynda Lyon was
a gold digger and that the relationship would not last. But it did.
In 1984, the couple had the son Karl Block had wanted.
marriage disintegrated eight years later -- around the time that
Lynda astonished her husband by taking a sudden interest in the
Libertarian Party, then attending rallies and lectures about the
Soon, she was publishing a small-circulation
magazine, Liberatus. She wrote articles such as "The Day Our Country
Was Stolen -- How the 14th Amendment Enslaved Us All Without A Shot
Fired." "In Europe, Africa and other places in the world, a despot
simply took over a country by waging war," she wrote. "Here in
America, however, as long as Americans were armed and prepared for
hostile armed takeover, the Conspirators knew that a different
technique -- a grand deception by manipulation of the laws, the
courts, the schools, the media -- must be employed to obtain the
same results." She went on to suggest that others could follow her
lead and declare themselves "natural persons" by revoking their
drivers licenses and birth certificates. A headline over that
section of her article was appropriate in a way Lynda Block could
not foresee. "A Dangerous Game," it read.
Like others in the militia movement, Block was
strongly influenced by the 1993 siege of David Koresh's Branch
Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. Many militia members saw proof, in
the flaming ruins of the Koresh complex, that the federal government
was out of control. "After Waco, what was just a theory became a
reality," says Gary Hunt, one of Block's former comrades in the
Hunt, a former Orlando land surveyor who now
lives in Arizona, flew from Orlando to Waco in April 1993, when the
Branch Davidians were under siege, to see whether he could offer
He says while he was at Waco he was sure that federal
agents bugged his hotel room and had people in the room next door,
watching him. Feeling a need, as he puts it, "to ensure my personal
safety," he called several patriot friends and asked them to arm
themselves and meet him at Orlando International Airport when he
flew home. Among those who did as he asked: Lynda Block. She was
accompanied by a like-minded, fiercely opinionated mechanic whose
face was so gaunt that Karl Block liked to refer to him as "Ichabod
Crane." His name was George Sibley.
By August of 1993, Block and Sibley were not only
fellow patriots but lovers. Lynda had separated from Karl Block, and
the two were in the midst of a divorce. But they battled over money,
and on a steamy summer evening, Lynda Block and Sibley showed up at
Karl Block's apartment to talk about it.
Karl Block wound up with a
shallow, one-inch knife wound in his chest. Sibley and Lynda Block,
who claimed that Karl had lunged at her, were charged with assault
and battery. Overloaded state attorneys, faced with what looked to
them like not much more than another routine domestic-disturbance
case, were only too happy to bypass a trial in favor of a plea deal.
Besides, it was a first offense for both defendants. Prosecutors
were willing to let them go with a slap on the wrist -- six years of
probation. Sibley and Lynda Block wouldn't have it.
They didn't see an impersonal criminal-justice
system dispassionately grinding away. They saw enemies with a chance
to lash out at them. They suspected that the judge had been given
orders to ignore the plea agreement and put them in jail.
they detested about big government had suddenly crystallized in
their own lives, just as it had at Waco. They fired their court-appointed
attorney. In place of traditional legal strategies they substituted
a patchwork defense of their own.
It included Sibley's contention
that the judge assigned to their case, James Hauser, should be
disqualified because, for one thing, he was using "peculiar hand
gestures of raising fingers of the whole hand while the heel of his
palm rested on the bench" to secretly signal the court reporter to
omit some statements from the court record.
Lynda Block also told friends and supporters that
powerful people in Orlando -- including Orange County Chairman Linda
Chapin and Sheriff Kevin Beary -- were using the case to attack her
because of articles she had written about them in her magazine.
Finally, the two refused to appear at their sentencing hearing and
barricaded themselves in Sibley's Pine Hills home with weapons and
They sent a dramatic fax to newspapers and television
stations explaining that they expected an attack from the police at
any moment and would "rather die than live as slaves." Then they
waited for the police attack that would surely come. But it never
did. "They wanted a shootout at the OK Corral, but we didn't give it
to them," said an undercover Orange County sheriff's detective who
worked on the case.
Instead, the house was kept under routine
surveillance by a felony squad. At one point a deputy simply knocked
on the door to serve them papers. There was no answer.
couple had slipped away, piling their weapons -- three handguns, two
semi-automatic rifles and an M-14 rifle -- into Block's red Ford
Mustang, on which she had plastered a bumper sticker that said: "A
woman raped is a woman without a gun." In the car with George and
Lynda was the 9-year-old son that Karl Block had wanted so much.
Karl, because of his advancing age, had agreed to let his estranged
wife have custody of the boy. The three headed north to stay with
friends in Georgia.
Then they decided to hide out in Mobile, Ala.
They stopped in Opelika to make a phone call. That was when they
finally encountered the enemy they had been seeking so avidly. They
found him in a Wal-Mart parking lot, in the form of a bespectacled,
39-year-old police sergeant who liked to send flowers to his wife
and sign the note "Just because."
Roger Motley had been just about every kind of
cop you could be in Opelika. He started as a dispatcher at age 19
and worked his way through the divisions -- traffic, patrol,
Then a captain, noticing Motley getting onto the other
detectives for not filling out their paperwork correctly,
transferred him to administration. Motley's chief responsibility was
making sure that the county jail ran smoothly. He drove the only
patrol car in town that did not have a light rack on top. He was the
only officer in the city who did not own a bulletproof vest. Because
of a shortage of the vests, he had given his up a week earlier to a
rookie patrolman. He had never fired his service revolver in the
line of duty.
Opelika, just off Interstate 85 between Atlanta
and Montgomery, Ala., is Auburn's blue-collar twin, just far enough
away from the college town to maintain its Old South feel, with
Victorian mansions on one side of town and weathered textile mills
-- one of which served as a set for Norma Rae in 1979 -- in the
other. With a population of 25,000, the city is small enough that
its Wal-Mart serves as the de facto center of town. You couldn't
have picked a more public place. With so many witnesses in the
parking lot, there is little argument about what happened there
early in the afternoon of Oct. 4, 1993.
Roger Motley had just finished lunch with his
wife, Juanita. He was shopping for supplies for the jail when a
woman came up to him and told him there was a car in the parking lot
with a little boy inside. The woman was worried about him.
seemed to be filled with possessions and bedding. The boy seemed
like he needed help. She was afraid that the family was living in
their car. Would he check on them? Motley cruised up and down the
rows of parked cars and finally pulled up behind the Mustang. Sibley
was in the car with the boy, waiting for Block to finish a call to a
friend from a pay phone in front of the store. Motley asked Sibley
for his drivers license. Sibley said he didn't need one. He was
trying to explain why when Motley put his hand on his service
revolver. Sibley reached into the car and pulled out a gun.
Motley uttered a four-letter expletive and spun
away to take cover behind his cruiser. Sibley crouched by the bumper
of the Mustang. People in the parking lot screamed, hid beneath
their cars and ran back into the store as the men began firing at
each other. Preoccupied by the threat in front of him, Motley did
not see Lynda Block until the very last moment.
She had dropped the
phone, pulling the 9mm Glock pistol from her bag as she ran toward
the scene, firing. Motley turned. She remembered later how surprised
he looked. She kept on firing.
She could tell that a bullet struck
him in the chest. Staggering, he reached into the cruiser. She kept
on firing, thinking he was trying to get a shotgun. But he was
grabbing for the radio. "Double zero," he managed to say -- the code
for help. He wasn't attacking her. He was trying to get away. He had
just enough consciousness left to put the cruiser into gear. It
glided into a parked car and came to a rest as he blacked out. He
died in a nearby hospital that afternoon.
In letters to friends and supporters, Block later
would describe Motley as a "bad cop" and a wife beater with multiple
complaints against him. As part of the conspiracy against her, she
said, she was prohibited from bringing up his record in court.
personnel file makes no mention of any misbehavior. His wife says he
was a kind and patient man. The most serious trouble Motley ever
seems to have gotten into was having a fender-bender in his police
cruiser. After her husband's death, Juanita Motley received a letter
of sympathy from a man who had been a prisoner in the Opelika jail
while he was in charge, saying Roger had always treated him with
Sibley and Block tried to flee but were cut off
by a police barricade between Opelika and Auburn. Eventually, they
surrendered. But first, surrounded, they had a conversation with a
police negotiator. He told them to let the boy out of the car, and
they did. The son that Karl Block wanted so badly was taken into
custody and eventually sent back to Orlando, where he lives with his
grandmother. He is a straight-A student in a private school who
wants to study automotive engineering in college.
Trapped on the Alabama highway, surrounded by
dozens of police officers, Lynda Block feared there would be a
shootout before she and Sibley would have a chance to surrender. She
spoke to the police negotiator. "Let's not have another Waco happen
here," she pleaded. It was the second time that day that a police
officer had stared at her with a puzzled look on his face. "What's
Waco?" the negotiator asked.
Lyon-Sibley Dies In The Alabama Electric Chair
By Robert Anthony Phillips
May 10, 2002
ATMORE, AL - (May 10, 2002) -- Cop killer Lynda
Lyon-Sibley, making no last statement and appearing to pray silently
with her eyes shut, became possibly the last person to be executed
in the electric chair in Alabama early Friday morning.
Wearing white prison issues, her head shaved and
face covered in a black veil, Lyon-Sibley was strapped into “Big
Yellow Mama,” the macabre name given to the electric chair, at 12:01
a.m. and received two jolts of electricity over two minutes. “She
was read the death warrant (while strapped to the chair) and asked
if she had a final statement,” said Brian Corbett, an Alabama
Corrections Department spokesman who witnessed the execution. “She
said, ‘No,’ and that was that.” “I can tell you her demeanor was
stoic,” said Corbett. “She displayed no emotion. She had very wide
eyes with a defiant look on her face. She did make eye contact with
our commissioner (Corrections Commissioner Michael Haley) and it
looked like she was trying to stare a hole straight through him.”
Corbett said that one 2,500 volt jolt of
electricity was sent through Lyon-Sibley’s body for 20 seconds and a
second jolt of 250 volts was sent through her for 100 seconds.
Corbett said that he saw steam rise from the wet sponge placed under
the electrode on her left leg. A reporter from the Birmingham News
newspaper wrote in her story that Lyon-Sibley “clenched her fists,
her body tensed” as the electricity rammed into Lyon-Sibley’s body.
Lyon-Sibley, a former Cub Scout mom and library
volunteer in Orlando, Fla., was pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m.
Lyon-Sibley, who is listed in prison records as Lynda Block, became
the first woman put to death in Alabama since 1957, when Rhonda
Martin was executed in the electric chair for poisoning her husband.
Before Lyon-Sibley was executed, the condemned woman spent time in
an isolation cell with three visitors from Florida. Her spiritual
advisor, a former chaplain at Tutwiler Correctional Facility, where
she was held before her execution, was with her, Corbett said.
The execution, at Holman Prison here, marked both
the end of Lyon-Sibley, an anti-government activist, and the end of
the Alabama electric chair as the official execution device in the
state. Alabama is officially switching to lethal injection on July
1, now leaving only Nebraska as the only state that will still use
electricity to kill convicted murderers. Condemned men or women in
Alabama, however, can still choose to die in the electric chair if
Lynda Lyon-Sibley and her husband, George Sibley,
were both sentenced to death for the murder of Opelika police
sergeant Robert Motley in 1993. The Sibley’s were on the lam from
Florida, where they were facing assault charges, when they stopped
in Opelika and became involved in a shoot-out with Motley in a
shopping center parking lot. Lyon Sibley has claimed over the years
that she shot Motley in self defense to prevent him from shooting
Motley’s widow, Juanita Motley, had planned to
witness Lyon-Sibley’s execution, but as the witness room blinds were
opened and the execution was about to begin, asked to leave the
room, Corbett said. "I went as far as I could with this," Juanita
Motley told a reporter from the Birmingham News. "I went on in and I
saw Lynda but when they pulled the hood over her head, I asked an
officer to take me out."
George Sibley, also on death row, had been at
Holman Prison but was transferred to another facility prior to the
execution, Corbett said. No execution date has been set for him,
authorities said. Lyon-Sibley had refused all offers of legal help
or the chance to file more appeals to escape the death house. During
her trial, she had fired her lawyers and represented herself. Lyon-Sibley,
in her death row writings over the years, accused the judicial
system of being corrupt. She also did not recognize the authority of
Alabama, saying it never became a state again after the Civil War.
National Coalition to Abolish
the Death Penalty
Alabama - Lynda Lyon Block
Date and Time: 5/10/02 1:00 AM EST.
Lynda Lyon Block is scheduled to be electrocuted
by the state of Alabama on May 10 for the death of police officer
Roger Motley. Block has completely waived her right to legal counsel
and her right to appeal her death sentence, on account of her
Block has refused to accept the validity of
Alabama’s judicial system, claiming that Alabama never became a
state again after the Civil War. She has been completely non-cooperative
with her court-appointed attorney, who has nevertheless attempted to
work against her death sentence.
Block has instead chosen to appeal
directly to Congress and the judiciary. Upon hearing of her
execution date Block stated:
Block’s execution date is essentially another case of
a volunteer execution. She was given a stay due to the fact that her
previous execution date, April 19, is considered a sacred date to
those who share her political beliefs. Please write to Judge Roy
Moore and the state of Alabama to protest this second attempt to
execute Lynda Block.
Lynda Lyon Block of Alabama First Woman to be
Executed Since 1957
Alabama Amnesty International
The Alabama Supreme Court set an April 19
execution date for a Florida woman convicted in the 1993 shooting
death of an Opelika police officer. Barring a stay, Lynda Lyon Block
would be the 1st woman executed in Alabama since 1957.
against all manner of government intrusion, she has refused the help
of lawyers, contending the judicial system is fraudulent and corrupt.
State prosecutors said Wednesday she has no active appeal.
Block, 54, and her common-law husband, George
Sibley Jr., were convicted in the October 1993 shooting death of
officer Roger Lamar Motley while they were on the run from a
criminal case in Florida. Sibley also received a death sentence and
remains on death row. The Alabama Supreme Court upheld Block’s death
sentence in 1999 and Sibley’s in 2000.
At trial, Sibley and Block said they fired at
Motley and his patrol car in self-defense after the officer touched
his holster. Witnesses said Sibley fired shots 1st and Block joined
in the shootout after the officer was wounded. Both were sentenced
to die in part because forensics experts couldn’t decide who fired
the fatal shots.
At the time, the couple was fleeing from Orlando,
Fla., to avoid being sentenced on assault convictions in the
stabbing of Block’s 79-year-old former husband. They contend they
were innocent of assault and had become victims in the case
themselves. The last woman to come close to execution in the state
was Judith Ann Neelley, who avoided the electric chair when former
Gov. Fob James set aside her death sentence in 1999.
Block Awaits Death Penalty
By Todd Kleffman -
May 09, 2002
Barring a surprise 11th-hour stay, Lynda Lyon
Block will become the first woman executed by Alabama in nearly 45
years shortly after midnight tonight.
Block, convicted of killing an Opelika police
officer in 1993, is scheduled to be electrocuted at 12:01 a.m.
Friday in the death chamber at Holman Prison near Atmore. She could
be the last person to die in the state’s electric chair, because no
other executions are scheduled before lethal injection becomes
Alabama’s official execution method July 1.
Block and common-law
husband George Sibley were convicted of killing Sgt. Roger Motley
during a gunbattle in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Opelika. Sibley
also received a death sentence, but his execution hasn’t been
On Monday, Block was transferred to Holman from
Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Elmore County. Security at the
Atmore facility, which houses 979 inmates including 158 men on death
row, was tightened after her arrival, Warden Charlie Jones said.
“Security is always increased around the prison when something
special is happening,” Jones said. Sibley was transferred from
Holman to Donaldson Prison near Birmingham the day his wife was
moved to Holman, Hamm said.
Sibley and Block had been convicted of assaulting
Block’s ex-husband in Florida and were on the run from police when
they pulled into the Opelika Wal-Mart with Block’s 11-year-old son
in tow. When a shopper notified Motley that a child appeared to be
in distress, he went to investigate.
He encountered Sibley, who
pulled a gun and fired on the officer. Motley retreated behind his
police car and returned fire. Block, who was using a nearby pay
phone, heard the shots, pulled a pistol from her purse and began
firing on Motley. The officer was hit several times, but it was
never determined who fired the fatal bullet.
Sibley, Block and her son drove away, but were
later cornered by police on Wire Road in Lee County. The heavily
armed couple released the boy and then surrendered after a tense
four-hour stand-off. Block has maintained her innocence, saying she
shot Motley to defend her husband. She said the court system is
biased against her and Sibley because of their anti-government
stance, and that they didn’t receive fair trials.
Alabama has used the electric chair, known as
“Yellow Mama” because of its bright color, since 1927. The chair has
been used in 176 executions, including three women.
The last woman
to be electrocuted was in 1957, when Montgomery waitress Rhonda
Belle Martin was put to death for poisoning six family members.
Earlier this year, the Legislature passed a bill that makes lethal
injection the state’s method of execution. It becomes effective July
1, though inmates will still have the option of choosing death by
electrocution. “If they don’t actively choose electrocution, it
automatically goes to lethal injection,” Hamm said.
Widow Plans to Witness Death
OPELIKA – Juanita Motley isn’t sure yet if she’ll
be able to watch as Lynda Lyon Block dies, but she’s going to try.
“I have up until I walk through that last door to say I don’t want
to see this,” Motley said. “I’m not sure I want to have that image
with me for the rest of my life.”
But Motley is going tonight to Holman Prison near
Atmore, where Block is scheduled to be electrocuted at 12:01 a.m.
for the 1993 killing of Opelika police officer Roger Motley,
Juanita’s husband of 11 years. There, she’ll decide if she needs to
see her husband’s killer die. There was a time during the first two
years after the murder that Juanita Motley would have gladly thrown
the switch to send the fatal voltage through Block’s body. Rage was
her controlling emotion. She wanted an eye for an eye. “Hatred and
bitterness were poisoning everything in my life. I had to learn to
put that down,” Motley said. “I loved Roger with all my heart, but
there was nothing I could do to go back and change that one day.”
Support from her husband’s former colleagues,
family and the community has helped heal her heart over the years.
“Initially, all I had was hatred, but as the years went by, I got to
the point where I was more concerned about the other people this was
affecting,” she explained. “I had children and grandchildren who
depended on me and realized I have to be able to take care of things.”
She keeps a portrait of her husband in her home and makes sure her
grandchildren know about the man they have never met but call “Papa
Roger.” “Not a day goes by when I don’t think about Roger,” she said.
With the execution drawing near, she also finds
herself thinking a lot about Block as well. Until recently, she had
been able to keep Block’s memory at a distance. But then Block spoke
of her husband as an overly aggressive cop and worse, and the old
rage began welling up again – enough so that Motley decided she
might want to see Block die after all.
Block “has absolutely no remorse,” Motley said.
“I don’t think she has an ounce of humanity in her. I’m a
compassionate person. If I had seen some sympathy for the victim in
all of this, I wouldn’t feel the need to see this finished.” Motley
will travel to the execution site with her two sons. Roger Motley’s
mother, Anne Motley, and sister, Betty Anne Foschee, also will be
there. The three women are on the list to witness Block’s death.
As she weighs whether to watch the execution,
Motley said her thoughts will be with Block’s mother, who sent her a
sympathy card two days after Roger was killed. It was signed simply
“Lynda’s Mom,” with no return address. That is the only connection
the two have had. “I just can’t get her off my mind,” Motley said.
“To know the exact moment your daughter is going to die must be
Yellow Mama Built by Inmate
By Alvin Benn
When Alabama legislators decided to switch from
hanging to electrocution as the state’s official method of execution
more than 70 years ago, they were faced with a bit of a problem. The
state didn’t have a way to carry out death sentences as prescribed
by the new law. Enter Edward Mason, a British-born cabinetmaker who
had been sentenced for a string of burglaries in Mobile.
Mason wound up behind bars about the same time
the Legislature decided to switch to electrocution. When prison
officials learned he was an expert carpenter, they asked him to
build what would become known as “Yellow Mama.” Mason told a
reporter who visited him while he was finishing the project in March
1927 that he was promised a chance at parole if he built an electric
chair. “Every stroke of the saw meant liberty to me and the fact
that it would aid in bringing death to others just didn’t occur to
me,” Mason said in the prison interview. “I was rather proud of my
work.” No one is quite sure what happened to Mason, who didn’t get
that parole he had been hoping for. He apparently completed his
sentence in Alabama and left the state.
During the early part of the 20th century,
executions in Alabama were carried out at county jails. Most of the
old jails still in use or converted to museums have metal trap doors
on which the condemned stood before their short ride into eternity.
Charlie Bodiford, a former state Department of Corrections employee
who assisted in several executions at Holman Prison, said in an
interview before his retirement that the garish yellow paint job
apparently wasn’t Mason’s idea. “They had to use something on the
wood, so they came up with some yellow striping paint from the
Highway Department,” said Bodiford. “They called it ‘Yellow Mama’
because many of their mothers were dead and they felt they were
going to meet her,” former Montgomery Advertiser reporter Bob Ingram
said Wednesday afternoon.
The chair’s busiest day was Feb. 9, 1934, when
five murderers were executed. Several other multiple executions have
occurred since then. Now that the Legislature has changed the method
of execution from electrocution to lethal injection, questions
surface over what to do with “Yellow Mama.” Should it be destroyed?
Should it be placed in a museum? Ingram leaves no doubts about his
sentiments. He feels it should be destroyed, or at least hidden from
viewing. “I can’t imagine how anyone would want to preserve
something like that for schoolkids to see,” Ingram said.
Electrocutions of Women Rare in Alabama
By Todd Kleffman
If Lynda Lyon Block is executed as scheduled, her
name will go on a very short list in Alabama history – she’ll become
only the fourth woman to die in the state’s electric chair. The last
woman executed was Rhonda Belle Martin, a Montgomery waitress
convicted of poisoning her mother, three children and two husbands.
Despite testimony that Martin may have suffered from schizophrenia,
she was put to death at Kilby Prison in Montgomery Count on Oct. 11,
Earle Dennison of Wetumpka also poisoned a
relative – her 2-year-old niece – and died in the electric chair at
Kilby on Sept. 4, 1953. Dennison was the first white woman executed
by the state. On Jan. 24, 1930, Silena Gilmore of Jefferson County
became the first woman to be executed in Alabama. Gilmore was
convicted of murder, but details of the crime were unavailable
Alabama began using the electric chair, known as
“Yellow Mama,” as its execution method in 1927. Since then, 176
people have died in her arms. The state’s death-row inmates and
death chambers were housed at the old Kilby prison until it was torn
down in 1971 and the facilities were moved to Holman Prison near
Atmore. Back in the 1950s, as now, the execution of a woman was
front-page news in the Advertiser. Martin’s final hours competed
with headlines about Sputnik and the integration of public schools
in Little Rock, Ark.
Veteran Montgomery journalist Bob Ingram was a
newly hired Advertiser reporter when Dennison, a nurse, was put to
death in 1953 for placing arsenic in an orange drink she gave to her
young niece because she wanted to collect on a $500 insurance policy.
“That was such a horrendous crime, and it was so close to home – up
in Wetumpka – so there was great interest in it,” said Ingram, who
witnessed Dennison’s execution. “There was more interest because of
the novelty that she was a woman. But no one was crying out that the
state shouldn’t execute her because she was a woman.”
The Reporters Committee for
Freedom of the Press
"TV Station Fails to Overcome Deathrow Interview
Ban: Judge upheld Alabama prison official's prohibition against
media contacts with a female inmate, saying the policy was related
to security not content."
A judge last week denied a Montgomery, Ala.,
television station's request to interview a death-row inmate who
might become the first woman to die in Alabama's electric chair.
Montgomery County Circuit Judge Charles Price on April 24 declined
to remove a ban on media contact with such inmates.
WSFA/Channel 12 filed suit in Montgomery County
Court, asking Price to allow one of its reporters to speak to Lynda
Lyon Block, a woman scheduled to die on May 10 for the murder of a
police officer in 1993. The station claimed the First Amendment
forbids bans such as the one imposed by Prison Commissioner Mike
Haley. Station officials have not decided whether to appeal the
Block and her common-law husband, George Sibley,
were convicted on capital murder charges in the shooting death of
Roger Motley, a police office in Opelika, in a Wal-Mart parking lot.
Sibley also sits on death row but his execution date has not been
scheduled. Sibley and Block claimed self-defense in the shooting and
stated that police and courts do not have legal power over them.
In halting death-row interviews, Haley had issued
a memo saying he didn't wish "to publicize this heinous crime and in
so doing bring any recognition to Ms. Block." Montgomery County
Circuit Judge Charles Price heard arguments in the case on April 19
and agreed with prison officials that an interview with Block would
cause security problems. "There are a legion of cases that hold, as
this court does, that Commissioner Haley's decision to deny the
stated interview is not a denial of plaintiff's right of freedom of
speech," Price wrote in his decision. "This court finds that the
denial is based on security and control reasons and not content-related."
Woman Could be Last in Electric Chair
By Rhonda Cook and Drew Jubera -
May 09, 2002
Lynda Lyon Block is scheduled to be strapped into
a brightly painted yellow chair, known in Alabama as "Yellow Mama,"
just after midnight tonight. If the execution goes as planned by
Alabama's Department of Corrections, and Block, 54, is pronounced
dead minutes later, the convicted killer of an Opelika, Ala., police
officer could achieve a new infamy: the last inmate in the United
States to die in the electric chair.
Alabama recently made lethal injection its prime
method of execution, and no other executions are scheduled there
before the new law takes effect July 1. Gov. Don Siegelman has said
the state's change was a precaution against the U.S. Supreme Court
declaring the electric chair to be cruel and unusual punishment.
That leaves Nebraska as the only state that uses the chair as its
sole means of capital punishment. A lethal injection bill was
introduced in the Legislature earlier this year, but the political
debate shifted toward eliminating the death penalty altogether.
Like three other states, Alabama still will give
those condemned to death the electrocution option. But death penalty
experts say that option is unlikely to be carried out. Last year,
when an Ohio death row inmate chose the chair to make a statement
against the death penalty, the state changed its method to lethal
The electric chair option is a "transition to
make sure people didn't complain that their sentences had been
changed," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death
Penalty Information Center. "The guillotine is gone forever, and the
electric chair will be in the museum," Dieter said. Block's
execution "could be a historic moment --- the electric chair has
been such a symbol of the death penalty."
Block's scheduled execution at Holman Prison,
about 40 miles northeast of Mobile, is playing out amid a bizarre
convergence of circumstances. These include Block's extreme anti-government
stance, which has led her to decline any legal representation, and
the residence until recently of her common law husband, George
Sibley, also convicted in the police killing, in the same cellblock
where her death sentence will be carried out. For security reasons,
Sibley has been moved from his Holman cell to a prison in
Birmingham. Block, who has no appeals pending, will not be allowed
to speak to him. Block also will be the first woman executed in
Alabama since 1957.
Block and Sibley met at a Libertarian Party
meeting in 1991 in Orlando and bonded as anti-government extremists.
They renounced their U.S. citizenship and gave up their driver's
licenses and Social Security cards. The couple then fled Florida
with Block's 9-year-old son to avoid being sentenced on assault
convictions in the stabbing of Block's former husband.
Motley approached their car in an Opelika parking lot after a
passer-by said a young boy was calling for help. Both Block and
Sibley shot Motley repeatedly. The couple claimed the shooting was
justified because Motley reached for his holster. They also claimed
that Motley, as a government employee, had no right to question
them. Motley was the father of two.
After their convictions, Block contended that
Alabama never became a state again after the Civil War and its
courts had no jurisdiction. She never has expressed remorse. Her
April 19 execution date was postponed by the Alabama Supreme Court.
Although no reason was given, April 19 is the anniversary of the
fire at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, and of the
bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. "I'm not afraid of
death," she said recently. "Every trip in your car is a crap shoot,
considering all the traffic deaths there are each year."
Execution by electrocution came about as a
sideline to the competition to expand the use of electricity between
Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. Since it was first used in
New York state in 1888, the electric chair has claimed more convicts'
lives than any other method of execution. It was first used in
Georgia in 1924, after the state abandoned hanging. Georgia switched
to lethal injection last year after the state Supreme Court ruled
that electrocution was unconstitutionally cruel.
CCADP - George Sibley and Lynda
George Everette Sibley, Jr. - born and raised in
South Bend, Indiana, and moved to Orlando Florida in 1976. He spent
most of his life designing and converting cars and engines into drag
racers, and also worked on street racers and circle track cars. He
owned his own car repair shop in Orlando, but closed it when he
couldn't find proficient mechanics to repair cars to his standards.
He enjoys reading, sport shooting, auto cross competing, and
political activism on libertarian issues. In recent years he became
a well-respected legal researcher and drafter of constitutionally
correct revocation and sovereignty-status documents.
Lynda Cheryle Lyon - born and raised in Orlando,
Florida, but has traveled throughout America. She is a professional
writer of columns, op-ed pieces and short stories for several
publications. She is a sailor, scuba diver, cross-country
motorcyclist, sport shooter, fisherman and billiards champion. She
has been active in community affairs as President of Friends of the
Library, as investigator for the Humane Society, President of the
Young Womens organization in her church, and State Vice-Chair of the
Libertarian Party of Florida, where she and George met. George
became Lynda's partner in her publishing business and wrote a column
about gun ownership rights in her magazine "Liberatus." They married
in 1992 and are raising Lynda's 11 year-old son, Gordon.
BOUND TOGETHER IN LOVE - AND DEATH
This is the incredible story of George Sibley and
Lynda Lyon - the only husband and wife in America sentenced to die
by electrocution - to be murdered by the State of Alabama for a
crime they did not commit They shot and killed a bad cop - Alabama
said it was murder but George and Lynda said it was self defense.
The dead officer was the only other witness as to how and why the
shooting began. His personnel file, that showed a long history of
abuse to the public, was hidden from the jury. The verdict was
predictable - guilty of capital murder The sentence - death in the
Written by Lynda Lyon in her own words, this
poignant narrative tells how despite torture, unsanitary conditions,
and almost dying for lack of medical treatment - George and Lynda
have never lost their love and loyalty to each other, and have vowed
they will always be soulmates - even to the day they are strapped
into the electric chair to their deaths.
"From Heaven to Hell," written by Lynda Lyon.
It was fate - and a libertarian philosophy - that
brought George and me together at a libertarian Party meeting in
Orlando, Florida, 1991. George had been attending for a year when I
entered the meetings for the first time. I was immediately at home
with the small but active group of intellectual activists, and
George and I were among a smaller group that together attended
A year later, my marital problems came to a head
and my husband agreed to leave the house to me and our son and to
start divorce proceedings. At that time, needing to enlarge my
fledgling publishing business, I accepted an investment partnership
offer from George, who had seen my potential as a writer and
publisher, and who had also seen an entrepreneurship opportunity for
Our partnership, which had began as friendship,
soon blossomed into romance - a true libertarian relationship of two
highly intellectual, fiercely independent individualists who live
passionately. We soon realized that we were soulmates - totally
compatible in every way. We married in 1992 and our love and
friendship has grown continually.
George helped me launch a new magazine -
"Liberatus" -and we published hard-hitting articles about political
corruption. We pioneered a revocation process that eliminated
driver's licenses, school board surveillance on my home schooled
son, IRS demands, and state revenue notices. Every document we filed
was challenged by the various agencies, but after we sent them legal
proof of our right to revocate, they went away. We taught others
this process in papers, video, and seminars. We spoke on local talk
radio. The local, state and federal agencies began to notice the
influx of revocation documents from Florida.
Our hell began, not with the agencies, but with
Karl, my ex-husband, who had decided to sue me for possession of the
valuable house. He petitioned the judge to allow him back into my
house until the case was settled, a preposterous idea. George urged
me not to go to Karl's apartment to try to reason with him, knowing
Karl to be a violent- tempered man. But I was desperate to keep my
home and was prepared to offer him a deal, so George went with me.
Karl let us in to talk, but he became angry at my attempt to
bargain. In a rage, he lunged at me. George managed to pull him off,
but Karl had sustained a cut from a small knife I had pulled out and
held up as a warning just as he had grabbed me. The cut was not
large or deep, and when we offered to take him to a medical center,
he refused, though he did allow us to bandage the cut.
George and I were arrested in our home at 2:30 am
that same night. Karl had called the police and told them we had
broken in and attacked him. George and I had never been arrested
before, never been in any trouble other than traffic tickets. We
were in shock - George's face was pale and grim, and I felt faint
when the deputy began to read us our "rights". They put us both,
hand cuffed, in the back seat of a patrol car and we tried to
console each other. We agreed not to make any statements until we
got a lawyer. I told him tearfully how sorry I was that he got
pulled into this mess between Karl and me, and he assured me that it
was all right, that he didn't blame me. I would have gladly borne
the ordeal myself to spare him this. At the jail, as George was
taken away, he looked back at me one last time and said "I love you,
Lynda". Those words sustained me through the next five days of hell.
Because we were charged with "domestic violence",
George and I could not make bond without a hearing, and we had to
wait five days for that. I was placed in a cell with 30 other crying,
arguing, loud talking women. I chose a top bunk on the far end, and
sat and cried. I was terrified, because I had recently been
interviewed on the radio about money being skimmed from the jail
accounts, and the sheriff had ordered the radio station padlocked
I could not eat those five days. The meat stank,
and the vegetables and whipped potatoes were watery. I lived on
whatever cartons of milk I could trade for my trays. I was astounded
that the long timers would eagerly bid for my tray, and I managed to
get paper and pencil as well. Writing helped me keep sane. I was
able to converse with some of the women who recognized me as "fresh
meat" and protected me from the lesbians and bullies. I called my
mother to see how my son was doing, and she told me that Karl said
he would make sure I went to prison and that he didn't want his son.
When I began crying, the others stopped talking and looked at me. A
large, black woman came over and hugged me to her ample bosom, and I
felt a strange kinship to these thrown-away, forgotten wives,
The most humiliating experience was the strip
search. When ordered to strip for a body search, I froze. I had
never undressed for anyone except my husband and doctor. Silent
tears ran down my face as I disrobed, then turned to squat so they
could see if I had any drugs protruding from my rectum. When I
dressed, my face was red with shame. I felt violated, mentally raped.
I never did get over that.
George and I did get out on bond the 5th day. We
were sure that our ordeal was over and that we would soon prove our
innocence at trial. We were so naive.
It soon became evident that politics had entered
our case. Too late, we realized that our attorney had sold us out
for a job with the county. When our trial date arrived, our attorney
had done nothing - the witnesses had not been subpoenaed, nor
records we needed. George and I immediately fired him and asked the
judge for a continuance to prepare for trial. He said no - we either
plead "Nolo contendre" or go to trial that day; and if we were
convicted, we would be sent directly to prison for a mandatory
3-year term. Our attorney had an evil, satisfied look on his face
and I knew we had been set up. We were forced to sign "No contest."
We were still determined to fight it; we had a
month before sentencing. We filed papers exposing the corruption of
the judge and the denial of our right to a fair trial, sending
copies to the Governor, Lt. Governor, Chief Judge of Florida,
Attorney General, and the Sheriff. Friends and supporters flooded
these officials with faxes calling for an investigation, throwing
their offices in an uproar according to a secretary in the Chief
We didn't show up for sentencing; we'd been
tipped off that Judge Hauser was going to send us to prison anyway,
under "orders." We had three days to file a temporary restraining
order in federal court, but the man who had promised to draft the
document never did, and a capias was issued for our arrest.
A friend in the Sheriffs department, and a member
of my church, called me the evening of the third day, his voice
shaking. "Lynda, the warrants for you and George came up on computer.
I just heard there's a plan to raid your house. They know you have
guns - they're going to use a SWAT team." I was incredulous. "A SWAT
team!" His voice became softer, sadder. "You and George have made a
lot of important people angry. They're going to kill you and then
say you shot at them first. " He paused, to let this sink in, then
said, "I've put myself at great risk telling you this. Please, get
out of Florida. They mean business."
George had heard this on the speaker phone. His
face was as somber as mine. As a last, desperate attempt to stop
this insanity, I called to talk to Sheriff Beary. I had interviewed
him when he ran for election. But he wouldn't come to the phone.
George and I were not criminals and we did not
want to become fugitives. But my friend had made it clear we had no
choice. At the invitation of a friend in Georgia to stay with him,
we loaded our car and George, my son Gordon, and I left Florida that
We stayed in Georgia for three weeks, but we knew
we couldn't stay longer and endanger our friends. We decided to go
to Mobile, Alabama, a large port where strangers come and go
everyday, and figure out how to straighten out the Florida mess. We
stayed in a motel in Opelika, Alabama while waiting for our friend
to turn our remaining silver coin into cash, then we started out
October 4, 1993, for Mobile. On the way I spotted a drugstore with a
pay phone in front and suggested to George that we stop there so I
could get a vitamin supplement and call a friend in Orlando. After
Gordon and I came out of the store, he got back in the car to wait
while George and I made the call.
While I was on the phone, George stood by,
watching the traffic and people going by. He noticed one particular
woman in a red Blazer pull in beside our car. She got out and looked
at our car, a Mustang hatchback, with pillows stacked on top of all
our belongings. It later came out at trial that she had presumed
that we were transients, living out of our car, with a child
obviously not in school. Actually, I always carried my own pillows
when sleeping in motels. This woman's prejudicial presumption cost a
police officer his life, my son his mother, and George and me our
Because I had run out of change for the phone, my
call was cut off, so we left. But as we were leaving the shopping
center I remembered my friend had an 800 number and I then spotted a
phone in front of Wal-Mart. So George pulled the car into a parking
space and he and Gordon stayed in the car while I walked to the
store to call. Unknown to us, the woman saw a police officer coming
out of a nearby store. She approached him and told him that we were
living out of our car and she was concerned about the child. She
gave him a description of our car and left.
Roger Motley was the supply officer for the
Opelika Police Department and hadn't been on patrol for years. He
was irritated that he had to stop and check on this situation. He
drove his car up and down the aisles, and when he found our car, he
stopped behind it.
I had my back turned while talking on the phone
and didn't see the officer pull up. When George saw the officer in
the rear view mirror, he got out of the car, closed the door, and
waited to see what the officer wanted. The officer approached George
with the typical "I'm the guy with the badge and the gun" attitude.
In a curt voice he demanded to see George's driver' s license.
George told him he didn't have one, and was prepared to get our
legal exemption papers from the car. The officer then decided to
arrest George and told him to put his hands on the car. George
hesitated, knowing this was arrest, yet he had done nothing illegal.
Motley, thoroughly irritated now, reached for his gun. When George
saw him go for his gun, he reacted instinctively and drew his own
gun. When Motley saw George's gun, he said "Oh shit'." and, with his
hand still on his gun, turned and ran for cover behind the police
When I heard the popping noises, it took me a
couple of seconds to realize it was gunfire. I heard people yelling
and running to get out of the way. Quickly I turned and saw Motley
crouched beside his car, shooting at George. Fear gripped my
stomach. I cried, "Oh God, no!" and dropping the phone, began
running, ignoring the people scrambling for cover. I saw George
standing between the rear of our car and the right side of the
police car; he was holding his gun in his right hand, but his left
arm was hanging strangely. Motley didn't see me approach, and just
as I came to a stop I pulled my own gun and shot several times. He
turned to me in surprise, and as he did, one of my bullets struck
him in the chest and he fell backwards, almost losing his balance in
his crouched position. His gun was pointed at me and I prayed he
wouldn't shoot. Instead, he crawled into the car, and after grabbing
the radio microphone, he drove off.
I immediately ran to our car and got in. The
parking lot was quiet - everyone had sought shelter inside the
stores. I was shaken, yet incredibly calm. "What happened?" I asked.
George's face was extremely pale. "He tried to arrest me for not
having a driver's license." He shook his head in disbelief. "I was
going to show him our papers, but he didn't give me a chance - and
he went for his gun. " He looked at me, his eyes begging me to
believe him. "I couldn't just stand there and let him shoot me."
I did believe him. George is the most honest
person I know. He would not have placed himself or us in danger. He
took the law seriously. He was never the showoff gunslinger-type and
would walk away before being drawn into a fight.
I told him that I believed him, but that we had
just shot a cop and the whole police force would be gunning for us.
We had to get out of there fast. It was then I noticed his arm and
he raised it up to show me. With characteristic understatement, he
said simply "I've been hit." His arm had been pierced by a bullet.
Though blood was dribbling down his arm, it didn't obscure the hole.
I examined his arm and could see that the bullet passed through his
forearm and miraculously had not broken any bone or cut through a
tendon or artery. I had an advanced medical kit in the car and I
knew I could treat it later.
George maneuvered our car deftly through the
streets, trying to get us out of the area quickly while not
attracting attention. I tried to calm Gordon, who was crying and
shaking, and I looked at the map for the best route out. But we were
unfamiliar with the area and kept running into heavy traffic. Then
we picked up an unmarked police car and knew they were closing in on
us. We were going over 100 mph when we suddenly came to a crossroad.
We could only turn right or left. "Which way?" he asked. I was
clueless - I had lost track of where we were. He took a guess and
We had gone only 1/4 mile down the country road
when we came up on a rise - and then we saw the roadblock, at least
20 cars. George slowed down, then pulled the car over to the side of
the road and cut the engine. He sat in calm resignation, then looked
over at me. I said quietly, "I guess this is it, isn't it?" He
nodded, then we both looked out at the policemen, detectives,
deputies -coming at us from all directions, guns drawn, shouting
"Get out of the car and put your hands up!"
It was an incredible, surrealistic scene, as
though I was experiencing a virtual reality game where I could feel
the action and motion, but then the game would end and I would go
back to living my real life again. My son's sobs brought me abruptly
back to reality. I rolled down my window and put out my raised hand.
"Stop!" I shouted. "I have a child in the car!" I could plainly see
the closest officer's face turn pale,and he quickly spoke into the
radio on his shoulder. "There's a child in the car!" he shouted. The
Opelika police never told these Auburn police this. The word was
quickly passed and then he said "Okay, ma'am, we won't shoot. You
can let the child go."
I talked to Gordon, calmed him down, then I
opened the door and let him out, told him to be a good boy and that
they would take care of him, and pointed him toward a plain-clothes
policeman. I gave him a last kiss, holding his handsome nine year-old
face in my hand, to get a last picture in my mind of the child I may
never see again. I watched him walk quickly away to the beckoning
officer and I felt as though my heart would break. I had planned his
conception, had nurtured him through sickness, homeschooled him. No
one could have possibly loved a child as much as I loved mine, and
he was walking out of my life only half-grown, unfinished.
As soon as Gordon was taken away, the police then
shouted at us to surrender. I turned to George and asked "What do
you want to do?" He had lost a lot of blood and was pale and tired.
"I don't know." I made a decision for us. I told the officer, "We
are not surrendering. You will have to kill us first."
For four hours George and I sat in the car and
talked. I held my gun where the officers could see that we were not
going to surrender peacefully. The officer continued to talk to me
to get information about us. George and I spent the time talking
about the shooting, as he explained to me what happened. We
discussed our plans for our future together, all gone. We discussed
the probability that if the officer died, we'd be charged with
capital murder and executed. If we decided to fight in court, it
could take years. We knew we did not want to spend the rest of our
lives in prison for an act of self-defense. We knew that it would be
our word against a cops' word, and we had already seen how corrupt
the justice system is. We then talked about suicide.
My religious belief is that suicide is wrong, but
now I was faced with the total hopelessness of our situation. I told
George that the only regret I had in all this is that I would not be
able to raise my son. We discussed all our options.
As dusk settled in, we saw the SWAT team position
themselves around us. The regular police had pulled back an hour
earlier. A negotiator got on the police car hailer and tried to talk
us into surrendering. We said no, that if they tried to come after
us we would shoot ourselves. He then tried to bargain with us. What
did we want? I printed my answers on notebook paper with a marker
and George held it out his window for them to read - to talk to my
son, to talk to the press, and to talk to clergy of my religion. He
agreed to all these things (he lied - they did none of them), but we
had to surrender first.
Finally, the showdown came. The SWAT teams had us
surrounded. We were told that if we did not surrender in 5 minutes,
they would lob tear gas through the windows of the car and take us
anyway. George and I had been sitting with our guns in hand. We had
planned to shoot ourselves in the head at the same time. George
looked at me with such sorrow and asked, "Would you mind if I stayed
in the car and shot myself while you surrender? At least you could
have some decision in Gordon's future."
I looked up at him with surprise, my eyes filling
with tears at the thought that this honest, loving, gentle man who
had waited over 40 years to find the right woman and found me,
spending all those years in patient waiting, should now die alone
with a bullet to his head. 'No," I said firmly, "I'm not going
anywhere without you. Either we surrender together or we die
together. I'll follow you, George - Whatever you want, I'm leaving
it up to you." A totally surprised expression came to his direct,
penetrating gaze. Until that very moment, he had not realized the
depth of my love for him, that I would rather stay with him, even in
death, and that I would trustingly place my life in his hands. "If
we surrender, it will be years before this is resolved." "I know," I
said, "but at least we'd be fighting this together."
He then took my left hand in his right, stained
with blood where he had tried to staunch the wound, and raised my
hand to his lips. "No," he said with renewed determination. "We will
surrender so we can fight this. We have to do whatever we can to see
that Gordon is taken care of, and to prove our innocence - if only
for his sake." For the first time in months, hope was in his voice "We
will fight this to the end, and it they still execute us, we'll die
knowing we fought for what was right." He then gave a tired smile. "Yes,"
I said with respect and admiration for my husband.
With a look of tenderness I'll always remember,
he leaned forward and kissed me, a gentle, parting kiss, perhaps the
last we would ever share. Then, at a nod from him, we laid down our
guns and exited the car with our hands up.
George and I were placed in solitary confinement
in the Lee County jail in Opelika. The jail is small - the men's
section holds 100 men, the women's section - 25. I was taken to a 4-cell
unit in which I was the sole occupant. I was exhausted and numb - I
had been fingerprinted, photographed, strip-searched and questioned.
I had not eaten since breakfast and it was after 9:00 pm.
The cell block I was in was at the far end of the
jail and hadn't been used for almost a year. After the last
occupants had left, it had not been cleaned. One of the female
officers pointed out a cell and told me to put my things there, then
But five minutes later they came back and took everything
except the mattress, soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper. I stood
there, dumbfounded. "Why are you doing this?" I asked. "Orders," was
the curt reply and they locked me in the tiny cell.
George was treated similarly, locked in a cell by
himself, but under the watchful eye of a surveillance camera. The
bright fluorescent lights in our cells were not turned off for 10
days, and it was almost impossible to sleep.
temperature in the jail was 68 -degrees, and without, any covering,
not even a sheet, I developed hypothermia, at times awakened by
uncontrollable shivering. I would pace the cell to keep warm but I
was too exhausted to pace for long. George had no shoes or socks -
they had taken those from him- and he too, was suffering from the
By the 6th day of constant cold I awoke to intense shivering,
I was cold - inside as well as out; I was numb and could hardly move.
With great difficulty I crawled to the bars of the cell and tried to
raise myself, but couldn't.
About 30 minutes later they found me on
the cold cement floor, one hand grasping the bars, and they decided
to give me a blanket. I wrapped myself in it and slept for 18 hours
before my body temperature became normal.
I had to use my only pair of panties to wash
myself and hung them to dry overnight to wear each day. They
wouldn't let us shower, nor would they give us clean clothes. We
asked repeatedly to use the phone to call our families so they could
get lawyers for us, but they denied us that, too.
The constant cold
and bright light, the isolation, the starchy food - they all began
to take its toll - as planned. We were both taken before Judge
Harper for the initial appearance in handcuffs attached to
belly-chains, and shackles on our bare ankles.
One cannot imagine the pain of trying to walk
with shackles on your ankles, on bare skin. The proper procedure is
to place them on the pants legs, but the jailers deliberately put
them on our skin to inflict pain. George and I bore the pain without
comment - we were not going to let them gain satisfaction from their
torture. I still have scars on my ankles where the shackles dug deep
into my skin.
At both court appearances the media was there in
swarms. At the first appearance, Judge Harper - the star -
imperiously went through the routine of asking if we understood the
charge - capital murder - and that the penalty was death or life
without parole. Did we have lawyers or did we want the state to
provide them? We both looked at him in disbelief.
They all knew we
had been denied even one phone call - how could we have retained
lawyers? If George and I were not so exhausted and disheartened, we
would have insisted on handling our own case. But they would not let
us talk and discuss this.
The prosecutor had quickly figured out
from looking through my files and our legal papers that were in the
car that we were well-educated, and politically and legally astute.
He did not want us to handle our own case, thus the psychological
torture to force us to take their lawyers.
After we were appointed lawyers, suddenly
everything changed. They let us shower and use the phone. We
received all our bedding and basic toiletries. We began to receive
mail. Because George and I were so well known, the news of the
shooting went all around the country, and calls and faxes to the
Sheriff had come in asking about us.
My mother had called and begged
the Sheriff to let her talk to me but he curtly told her I was going
to die for killing a cop and hung up on her. A friend had traveled
all the way from Orlando to see what he could do for us and they
refused him. Letters began pouring in, but we didn't get them. The
prosecutor, judge and the Sheriff conspired to cut us off from all
contact with support.
Despite the cruelties I suffered, none was worse
than what they did to George. After they let us receive mail, a
friend sent us stationary, pens and stamps. It was a long shot but l
asked if George and I could exchange letters. Surprisingly, they
said yes. (We found out later that the prosecutor had the jailers
copy our letters for information.)
When George wrote, he told me
that the wound in his arm had been treated only once - at the
hospital right after we surrendered. Over a week had gone by and
they had not given him any antibiotics. Once, just before he was to
appear in court, an officer put peroxide in his wound and changed
his bandage. George wrote me that he could feel itching and could
smell infection setting in.
As angry as I was of their treatment of me, I was
more angry at their deliberate indifference to his obvious medical
condition. We had just been given permission to use the phone and I
called a friend and told him what they were doing to George.
He immediately put out an urgent fax message to our supporters
nationwide and we were told that the next day the Sheriff's office
was swamped with faxes and phone calls demanding that George be
properly treated immediately. Pat Sutton, a retired deputy, quoted
law and Supreme Court decisions to the Sheriff about the proper
treatment of prisoners.
Early the next morning George was taken to a
doctor who treated his wound and prescribed antibiotics. An officer
later told George they had been given a prescription for antibiotics
at the hospital, but the Sheriff would not authorize it to be filled.
From the moment we were introduced to our
court-appointed lawyers, George and I fought to have them recognize
that we were as knowledgeable of the Constitution and the law as
they. We soon realized that we were more knowledgeable then they;
all they knew was what they were spoon-fed at law school.
nothing about the common-law rights of self-defense, of the
significance of the 14th Amendment citizenship, of the right to
resist unlawful arrest. They refused to combine our cases, kept
trying to put me against George so I would get a lighter sentence,
kept repeating the phrase "We're doing this for appeal." We soon
realized that they were not considering our innocence, but only the
degree of our "guilt."
They didn't expect acquittal, weren't working
for it at all, and only wanted to work toward saving us from the
George and I refused to submit to their plans -
George' s lead attorney tried to quit; mine left town and was
replaced. George' s attorneys did not prepare for trial. They had
not sent the witness subpoenas out in time, so few came.
not examined the forensic reports or questioned potential witnesses
about the officer's violent nature. At trial, the prosecutor
purposely twisted the facts in his closing statement to make it
appear that it was George's bullet - not mine - that killed the
officer. When George and I insisted that I testify to show that it
wasn't George's bullet, George's attorney made the loudest protest.
My attorney begged me not to testify. "George is already lost. Don't
throw away your chance for life. Don't be a hero." I looked him
straight in the eye. "I'm not doing this to be a hero. I'm doing it
because it's the right thing to do."
I had prayed that I would be calm while I was on
the stand, and I was. This, however, was interpreted by the media
and the jury as "cold-blooded lack of remorse." During his trial,
George was pale and tired, and extremely thin. And he knew he was
lost. It was inevitable that he would be convicted and sentenced to
When the jury recommended death for George, the
jailers expected me to cry and wail. Because I showed no reaction
and went about my normal routine, keeping my grief to myself, some
of the jailers turned against me, convinced I was cold and heartless
about George's plight.
It was only after George had been taken away
to prison three weeks later that I broke down. Clutching his last
letter, written hurriedly just before they took him away, I cried
quietly for hours. Half of me had been torn away and now I couldn't
even hope for a glimpse of him in court, and receive his daily
letters of love and encouragement. The reality of our situation only
hit me then, when they took George away to Death Row.
I now had to concentrate on my own trial, which
was getting nowhere. My lawyers and I argued at every meeting
because they refused to even consider the Constitutional issues I
knew were crucial to my case.
One night I perpended the realization
that unless these issues were raised at trial, I could not raise
them in appeal - according to the ABA Rules of Court - and I would
have no basis for a demand of my release. I had no choice but to
fire these useless attorneys and conduct my own trial.
The next morning, at a closed-chamber session
between the judge, my lawyers and me, I presented the lawyers their
dismissals, and copies to the judge. Judge Harper only raised his
eyebrows in surprise and ordered that the lawyers and I discuss this
privately. When we were alone, the lead attorney exploded in anger.
"You arrogant fool. Why do you insist on throwing your life away! Do
you have a death wish?"
I was calm and even smiled a little. "You
are not interested in proving me innocent - only of getting me a
lighter sentence. I want acquittal or nothing. I may lose anyway,
but at least it will be done my way." He stormed out angrily, and
the other attorney shook his head in sympathy. "I know why you're
doing this, but you're making a big mistake. You're risking your
life." I nodded. "I know, but it is my life, isn't it?"
To prepare for trial in the 3 months I had, I
read the Rules of Procedure and Rules of Evidence. I filed several
pre-trial documents, unusual documents that I convinced the judge
were to be introduced as evidence at trial. Fortunately, the judge
was too ignorant of the documents and of Constitutional law to
realize what I filed.
Though he and the prosecutors scoffed at my
pretrial documents challenging his jurisdiction, the
Constitutionality of the statute I was charged under, and the
validity of the indictment based on the original 13th Amendment; I
knew that if I did lose, I still could raise this issue on appeal
because it had been raised at trial.
The trial was a play, scripted by the judge, the
prosecutor, and the restrictive ABA Rules of Procedure. In both our
cases, Judge Harper refused to release the officer' s personnel
record, which showed a long pattern of abuse to the public, and I
was working against a one-sided portrayal of the officer as a "good
cop gunned down in cold blood."
I was able to perform all the
functions of trial in a calm, business-like manner, and even the
judge grudgingly admitted how well I was conducting my defense. But
under the restrictive rules of procedure in today's courts I had
little chance, and I knew it. All I could hope to do was maneuver
the trial to get as much information in my favor on record - for
When the jury came back with the guilty verdict I
was not surprised, but it hit me hard. No one can possibly imagine
being alone in a courtroom, feeling the eyes of everyone else upon
you waiting for your reaction to the news that they were going to
put you to death in a most horrible manner.
I forced myself to sit
perfectly still, emotionless, while realizing that the people of
Alabama wanted to kill me for choosing to defend my husband's life.
When it came time for the sentencing portion of
the trial, when I was supposed to convince the jury they should give
me life without parole instead of the death penalty, I waived my
time, telling everyone in that courtroom that I had presented
everything I had at trial. I was not going to beg for my life. When
I was awaiting their decision, I prayed that they would give me
death. If George and I were both on Death Row, we could join our
appeal and fight together.
When the jury recommended death, I rose
from the defense table with as much dignity as I could evoke and
walked through the silent courtroom and hallways back to my cell.
Some of the jailers were upset. One of the women in my cell broke
down and cried.
Execution by electric chair is gruesome. They
shave your head so they can attach the electrodes to bare skin. They
shove cotton up your rectum and put an adult diaper on you because
the charge of electricity through your body causes your bladder and
intestines to evacuate. They put a hood over your face because the
jolt of 20,000 volts causes your face to contort and your eyeballs
George and had agreed at the roadblock that we
would fight to the end, and if we still lose and are executed, we
will go back to our Creator knowing that we fought to the end, and
fought for the principle that it is better to have fought and lost
than to submit to those who would rob us of our unalienable right to
Heart to Heart
Below are portions of the daily letters George
and Lynda wrote while in the Lee County Jail, Alabama
"When you wrote that you did not blame me for the
plight we're in, it did make me feel much better too. I had been put
in such a difficult spot, and when he reached for his gun, my
reaction was an instinctive one. At that point was one choice: life
or death, to protect myself and my family, or fail miserably.
came to my defense, as I would yours, without question. I don't know
of any woman I've ever met who would do as you did for me, and I do
so thank God that we met. " - George
"I'm going through a terrible time dealing with
my captivity here. Yet, there is that hope, that chance for freedom,
and I am clinging to that with the fierceness of a person who is
clinging to the last standing tree in a raging storm." - Lynda
"I have been penalized all my life, as you have,
for adhering to principle, and being honest. I defended my
principles to my own detriment. Everywhere I went, someone wanted me
to yield to a situation, an ideal, or purpose that was wrong - or at
least, wrong for me - and I rebelled. This has cost me dearly
throughout my life. Realizing this, I still am unwilling to forfeit
that what I hold dearest -my integrity." - George
"Though in a moment of total despair I may have
been tempted to entertain thoughts of ending it all here, I've since
come to terms with the fact. that, just as our lives are playing
possibly to the end, so are the lives of those who lied to us and
about us, who prosecuted us, who cheated us and stole from us, who
have unjustly punished us.
Even in this place, captive as I am, I
will not yield my principles. No matter how much I am mocked or
tormented, I will not forfeit my dignity. I will leave this world as
Lynda Lyon Sibley, and with all the pride that entails. I am content
to play this to the end, whatever it might be" - Lynda
I agree with you completely on the result we want
here. Patrick Henry's 'Give me liberty or give me death!' sums up
the way I feel, and all who share the same spirit as you and I, that
mere existence is not life. " - George
'I told her (attorney) I was tired of living my
life to suit others, including an enslaving government, and that
yes, I could have taken the (Florida) sentence and tried to live
under community control, but why? Why should I submit to yet another
injustice? When does a person stand up for the principle of
defending oneself against injustice, rather than submit for the sake
of expediency? Always, I said. I'd rather die than live as a slave
to government control or public opinion. " - Lynda
"I will never give up the fight for freedom,
never! No matter what, I will endure, and I know that you have the
will, determination, and faith to do it too. As you have said before,
they cannot chain our spirits!" - George
"Life in prison is not "life." It is living hell
for someone like you or me. Living in a caged existence where you
are told what to eat, what to wear, where to sleep, when to sit or
stand; where your meager belongings are regularly searched, where
even your body is inspected, where the only intellectual stimulation
you receive is what they allow - what kind of life is that? If the
jury has to choose between death or life in prison, they would be
far more charitable to give us death." - Lynda
"This is one man who won't make a "deal" and sell
his soul for limited freedom." - George
"You carried yourself proudly in the courtroom,
and this is what the jury hated. They wanted submissive, emotional
groveling. They wanted pained expressions of remorse. You are truly
a brave man, Sweetheart, and I am honored to be your wife. " - Lynda
"You have changed me forever, Lynda, and for the
better. I am a whole and complete man with you, and I know that even
if we can't communicate for a while, that you will never forsake me
and will always love me. I know you won't want anyone else, and I
want only you. I will always be faithful to you, my soulmate, and I
will not lose faith in our freedom coming Soon, or in Heavenly
Father's plan for us. " - George
"I tried to picture you in my mind, and the
picture of you I love best is how you look in jeans, your
snug-fitting shirt, and your leather jacket. With your tall, slim
stature and your wavy hair, you looked so incredibly elegant and
handsome. I love your boyish smile and your direct, intense gaze.
Such honesty in that gaze. I love and adore you. " - Lynda
"After all this time apart, sweet Lynda, I will
cherish every moment we have together, every tender caress, every
kiss, every chance I have to see you. My favorite memories are those
of holding you in my arms, sharing a tender kiss or with your head
on my chest. I await the soft warmth of your embrace as I bring you
to the exquisite heights of our lovemaking.
I pledge my eternal love,
and a promise of total and complete loyalty to you. You are one of
Heavenly Father's special daughters, and He has given me the Sacred
duty and honor to love, protect, and guide you, and I will. " -
"These months ahead are going to be lonely for us,
George. Please don't let my resignation of our present situation
make you think I will ever let my love grow dim. I think about you
Memories make me cry with longing for days gone by. I
want to lay with you once again, caress your body; to snuggle up to
you and your masculine scent, and then feel the warmth of you inside
me as we share love. I am not complete without you. I never will be.
I am yours for eternity. " - Lynda
Block v. State,
744 So.2d 404 (Ala.Crim.App. 1996) (Direct Appeal).
This case involved the death of career police
officer, Roger Lamar Motley, who, during a routine investigation of
a complaint made by a concerned citizen, was killed in the line of
The prosecution's case against Block was virtually
impenetrable. Block was convicted of the capital offense of murder
under § 13A-5-40(a)(5), Ala.Code 1975. The jury, by a 10-2 vote,
recommended the death penalty; the trial court imposed the death
penalty after a sentencing hearing.
The Defendant, Lynda Lyon [Block], and her common
law husband, George E. Sibley, Jr., lived in Orlando, Florida. In
August 1992, the Defendant and her husband were arrested and charged
with aggravated battery and burglary in a stabbing incident
involving Lyon's 79-year-old former husband.
They entered a plea of nolo contendere to these
charges and a sentencing hearing was set for September 7, 1993. They
failed to appear for sentencing. On September 10, 1993, the
Defendant, Sibley, and her son fled the state of Florida knowing
that a writ of arrest had been issued by the Court.
On October 4, 1993, the Defendant was parked near
Big B Drug[s] in Pepperell Corners Shopping Center in Opelika,
Alabama. She was using a pay telephone outside the store and Sibley
stayed near the car with the child. A passerby, Ramona Robertson,
heard the child ask for help. Worried that the child was in danger,
she kept an eye on the Defendant's vehicle as it moved to a
different location in the parking lot near the entrance to Wal-Mart.
As Sgt. Roger Motley of the Opelika Police
Department came out of a store in the shopping center, Robertson
reported to him what she had observed. Motley, a uniformed officer,
had been running an errand for the police department. After the
situation was reported to him, Motley approached the vehicle of the
Defendant. At that point, Sibley got out of his vehicle as Motley
Meanwhile, Lyon was using the pay telephone near the
entrance to Wal-Mart. Prior to approaching Sibley, Motley radioed to
the Opelika Police Department as to his activities with respect to
investigation of this incident. A tape recording of those radio
contacts was admitted at trial and played for the benefit of the
Motley approached Sibley and asked for his
driver's license. Sibley stated that he did not have one because he
had no contacts with the State.
Motley then requested identification
from him. At that point, Sibley pulled a pistol from a concealed
holster on his person and began firing at Motley. Motley attempted
to get away from him and ran behind his vehicle for cover.
officer then began returning fire at Sibley. Numerous shots were
fired by Sibley at Motley. The officer was able to fire his weapon
three times at Sibley. Meanwhile, Lyon heard the shooting and ran
toward the patrol car. She pulled a pistol from her purse and began
firing at Motley from his rear or side.
The officer was finally able
to get into his patrol car and radio for help. The patrol car
started to move through the parking lot in an erratic manner,
hitting several vehicles as it moved prior to its coming to a stop
near Big B Drug[s]. Motley was mortally wounded.
The Defendant, Sibley and the child then sped
away from the scene. After a high speed chase, they were stopped at
a roadblock on Wire Road in Auburn, Alabama.
The child was released
and, after a four-hour standoff, the Defendant and Sibley
surrendered to the police. A search of the automobile of the
Defendant uncovered numerous weapons and large quantities of
The police officer had several gunshot wounds.
The fatal shot went through his chest from the front at a slight
The fatal bullet was never recovered and tests were
inconclusive as to which gun fired the fatal shot, although it
appears, from the physical evidence and testimony, that [Block] most
likely fired it. In a statement given to the police following her
arrest, the Defendant admitted firing at the officer three times. At
the time this incident occurred, the parking lot was crowded with
vehicles and people. Numerous witnesses testified at trial as to
being eyewitnesses to the shooting."
The State literally had an airtight case; hence,
the State easily met its burden of proof on each and every element
of the offense of capital murder, in that there was overwhelming
evidence that Block had murdered Opelika Police Officer Roger Lamar
Motley while Office Motley was on duty.
officer Roger Lamar Motley.
George Sibley Jr., the
common-law husband of
Lynda Lyon Block