Crime

Eddie Ives's botched execution and replacing the noose with the gas chamber

This week's cover story, "The Happiest Man on Death Row," examines the 1939 execution of Joe Arridy, a Pueblo man with an IQ of 46, for a murder he probably didn't commit -- and the twenty-year battle by author Robert Perske to clear his name. Although the miscarriage of justice in Arridy's case is shocking, his time in the state pen (where he was allowed to play with his toy train) was an oddly gentle period in his short life, and his death by asphyxiation in Colorado's gas chamber was swift -- unlike the fate of many of his predecessors on death row.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast