Only on 12: Prattville Woman Waits as Killer's Potentially Controversial Execution Nears

Published: Oct. 22, 2007 at 9:18 PM CDT|Updated: May. 4, 2008 at 4:27 PM CDT
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Tricia Harris' sister and two nephews, along with another woman, were murdered in 1986.
Tricia Harris' sister and two nephews, along with another woman, were murdered in 1986.

Governor Riley has cleared the way for Alabama's next execution to take the life of an admitted serial killer.

State prison officials say Daniel Siebert's execution should go forth Thursday evening with no delay.

But lethal injection is under fire in federal and state courts, and that might have an impact here.

WSFA 12 News reporter Chris Holmes spoke with one victim's family and examined  the court case that may delay the execution.

It's a story you'll see only on WSFA 12 News and wsfa.com.

Tricia Harris has never seen Daniel Siebert's face and she never wants to.

She's lived with the aftermath of his most heinous crime for the last 21 years, and the only reminder of her sister is Sherri Weathers' artwork.

"She was deaf, couldn't hear or talk, but she was one of a kind. There was just something about her," Harris said about her sister.

Siebert murdered Weathers, her two young sons and another woman in 1986, and he's confessed to killing even more people nationwide, so there's no doubt in Harris' mind he deserves to die.

"Maybe it will ease some of the pain we're going through," said Harris.

But Siebert is asking both federal district and state Supreme Court judges to stop his execution. He has cancer and is taking pain medication to manage it.

His lawyers claim those drugs would interfere with the lethal injection chemicals and cause him excruciating pain and cruel and unusual punishment.

Siebert's appeal also comes as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a Kentucky case in which two inmates claim the anaesthetic in lethal injections don't render the condemned person unconcious, and when the other two chemicals go into an inmates body, they cause undue pain.

So, in response, Alabama has adopted new procedures to check if Siebert is unconcious before those are administered.

'Number one, speaking his name, number two, raking a finger or brushing a finger across his eyelashes, and number three, a pinch on the arm," said Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett.  "All of those are generally accepted practices."

The state has not changed the chemicals it will use in Siebert's execution. Tricia Harris says it doesn't matter to her either way.

"What about the pain he caused my sister and her two little boys? Why should anyone care his pain that he's going to be going through," she asked rhetorically.  "He never thought about the pain he's put everyone else through."

Sherri Weathers' mother is planning on witnessing Daniel Sieberts execution. Her sister will not.

Instead, Tricia Harris is giving her seat to a New Jersey woman.

Siebert has confessed to killing the woman's daughter after Sherri Weathers' death - but he never went to trial for that case. So now, Alabama's execution is her hope for justice as well.

Siebert's execution is set for 6 p.m. Thursday night pending any late court action, but the state says Siebert has exercised all of those avenues.

His attorneys did not return our calls.

Reporter: Chris Holmes