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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape - Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 23, 1980
Date of arrest: Next day (surrenders)
Date of birth: 1962
Victim profile: Annie Orr (female, 86)
Method of murder: Asphyxiation
Location: Shelby County, Alabama, USA
Status: Executed by electrocution in Alabama on August 6, 1999

United States Court of Appeals
For the Eleventh Circuit

opinion 94-6386

Victor Kennedy was convicted for the murder of 86-year-old Annie Orr on December 23, 1980 at Orr's home in Montevallo, Alabama.

Annie was badly beaten, repeatedly raped, and finally suffocated slowly on her bed under a pillowcase taped tightly around her head. The coroner testified that the tape, not the pillowcase, caused her asphyxiation.

Kennedy made three statements to the police, all of which were admitted in evidence. In the statements, Kennedy admitted to accompanying Darrell Grayson, whom Annie had employed, to her house in order to steal money for Christmas. Both had been drinking heavily, and Kennedy had a gun.

According to the statements, Kennedy entered the house with Grayson and searched the house for cash. Kennedy stated that he saw Grayson having intercourse with Annie, and that he entered her bedroom at this time to look for his gun. Kennedy did not admit, however, to taping the pillowcase, or to having been in Annie's bedroom when the tape was wrapped around her head. 

Apart from Kennedy's statements, the state's evidence was circumstantial. Playing cards found in Annie's house and on the path between her house and Kennedy's nearby residence corresponded to the missing cards of a deck seized at Kennedy's residence.

Hairs collected from Annie's body and bedroom, where she was found, proved to be those of a black male. Both Kennedy and Grayson are black, but forensic analysts could not identify the hairs as belonging to either of them.

Serological analysis did not indicate that any of the semen present was Kennedy's, although there was too much to have resulted from one ejaculation. At least some of the semen, however, was shown to be Grayson's.  Grayson made two statements to the police, neither of which was introduced at Kennedy's trial. Grayson's story differed from Kennedy's.

According to Grayson, he and Kennedy had gone to Annie's house at Kennedy's suggestion to rob her, and Kennedy had taken a gun. Upon breaking into Annie's house, they both went to her bedroom.

Grayson's statements inconsistently recounted the order of events in the bedroom, but said that at some time while the two were in the house Kennedy grabbed Annie by the throat, raped her, struck her head with his fist, and held her down as Grayson wrapped the tape around the pillowcase. Grayson also confessed to having raped Annie, possibly twice.


Victor Kennedy, 37, 99-08-06, Alabama

Victor Kennedy, 1 of 2 men convicted of raping and suffocating an elderly Shelby County woman on Christmas Eve 1980, died in Alabama's electric chair at Holman Prison early Friday.

Kennedy, 37, was pronounced dead at 12:11 a.m. Friday, Department of Corrections officials said. He was the 1st person executed for killing Annie Laura Orr, 86, of Montevallo, in a robbery attempt. A co-defendant is awaiting execution.

Just before the execution was carried out, a somber Kennedy sat quietly in the electric chair. He made a brief final statement, which wasn't audible to reporters. But Holman Warden Charlie Jones said Kennedy thanked his supporters and wanted Mrs. Orr's family to know he was sorry.

As the current was switched on, Kennedy's body jerked upward and his fists clenched.
His attorney, LaJuana Davis of Montgomery, had no reaction after the execution.

The Orr family, in a statement read after the execution, criticized the lengthy appeals process. It took 17 years for Kennedy's sentence to be carried out.

Mrs. Orr's granddaughter and a grandson by marriage witnessed the execution.

Earlier Thursday, the Alabama Supreme Court denied an appeal and a request for a stay of execution, prison system spokesman Tom Gilkeson said.

Prosecutors said Kennedy and co-defendant Darrell Grayson were looking for money when they entered Mrs. Orr's home in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve 1980.

She was beaten and a gun was fired into the wall to intimidate her, said Assistant Attorney General Clay Crenshaw. Both men raped her, Crenshaw said, and she died after they put a pillowcase over her head and wrapped her head, mummy-fashion, in masking tape.

Kennedy was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in 1982.

Kennedy, also from Montevallo, spent his last day visiting with his mother, Mary L. Williams, and his 2 teen-age sons.

Grayson, 19 at the time of Mrs. Orr's slaying, was also convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. His appeal has been pending for about 3 years before a federal judge.

Lee Binion of Birmingham, who was 22 when her grandmother was slain, earlier said she planned to witness Kennedy's execution.

"This is not about retribution. This is about seeing justice done," she told The Birmingham News in a story published Thursday. "I want him to know I am there, and I want to see the coroner pick his wrist up and tell me he's dead."

Milton Orr Jr., Miss Binion's uncle and a former Montevallo mayor, found his mother's body. "It was terrible," he said. "They raped her and rolled her up in a sheet."

He said he would not attend Kennedy's execution. "I knew those boys," he said of Kennedy and Grayson. "Neither one of them was any good."

The 2 had done occasional odd jobs for Mrs. Orr, according to trial testimony.

Gov. Don Siegelman denied Kennedy clemency Wednesday afternoon.

"It is clear to me that Mr. Kennedy participated in this most heinous crime, and that the death penalty is appropriate," Siegelman said.

Kennedy's attorney, LaJuana Davis of the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, said Thursday she did not know clemency had been denied until she saw a newspaper article. She said Siegelman's office had shown a "lack of regard" for failing to notify her promptly.

Siegelman spokeswoman Kristin Carvell said letters to Ms. Davis and the state attorney general's office were sent Wednesday before reporters were notified of the governor's decision. "It's the same way we've always done it," she said. "There may have been a problem with the mail."

An anti-death penalty group had appealed to Siegelman for clemency on Kennedy's behalf. Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty raised questions of racial unfairness in Kennedy's case, noting that Kennedy, a black man, was convicted by an all-white jury for murdering a white victim. A vigil was planned in Birmingham's Kelly Ingram Park at 11:45 p.m. Thursday.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Kennedy's case in April. In 1994, a federal judge granted him a new trial based on claims the prosecution failed to turn 2 of Grayson's statements over to Kennedy's defense lawyers during his trial. That ruling was overturned in 1995 by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the statements would have helped prosecutors more than the defense.

Kennedy becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Alabama, and the 19th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on April 22, 1983

(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)



Associated Press, August 6, 1999

Family members of a slain 86-year-old Montevallo woman said justice was done when her killer was executed Friday, but they said it never should have taken 17 years for Victor Kennedy to die in Alabama's electric chair.

Charles Preston said the family of Annie Laura Orr believes the legal process needs to be streamlined. Kennedy's lengthy stay on death row "cost the taxpayers of the state dearly," he said.

Kennedy, 37, died at 12:11 a.m. at Holman Prison in Atmore. Only 18 at the time of the crime, he and another man were convicted of beating, raping and suffocating Mrs. Orr, the widow of a former University of Montevallo dean.

Preston, married to one of Mrs. Orr's granddaughters, read a prepared statement after the execution as another relative held up a picture of the victim.

"Her family has finally received the last full measure of justice that she and we so richly deserve. A few moments ago, a long struggle was ended," said Preston.

Prosecutors said Kennedy and Darrell Grayson, then 19, wanted money when they entered the home where Mrs. Orr lived on Christmas Eve 1980. The elderly woman, who lived alone, had no money, but was beaten and raped by both men. She died when Kennedy and Grayson put a pillowcase over her head and wrapped it, mummy-fashion, in masking tape, prosecutors said.

The 2 men had occasionally performed odd jobs for Mrs. Orr, according to trial testimony. Grayson was also convicted in the slaying and sentenced to death. His appeal is pending before a federal judge.

Preston had no reaction as he watched a somber Kennedy in the moments before the execution.

Wearing thick-lensed glasses that sat crooked on his face, Kennedy closed his eyes tightly and moved his lips at one point as if he were praying.

His last words, spoken to Holman Warden Charlie Jones, were not audible. Jones said Kennedy wanted Mrs. Orr's family to know he was sorry and thanked his lawyer, LaJuana Davis of the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, for her support.

Kennedy's body stiffened and his fists clenched as the current was switched on.

Corrections officials said Kennedy left most of his belongings, including pictures, letters and a Bible, to his mother, Mary L. Williams of Montevallo. He also gave some possessions to other death row inmates, said Jones.

Kennedy spent his last day visiting with Ms. Williams, along with his 2 sons and a Pentecostal minister requested by Ms. Williams. None of Kennedy's family members witnessed the execution.



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