:This article is about executed criminal John Dennis Daniels. For New Haven, Connecticut Mayor John C. Danniels, see .
John Dennis Daniels (May 22, 1957 - November 14, 2003) was convicted of the 1990 murder of Isabella Daniels Crawford and was executed in 2003 by the State of North Carolina.
Crime Daniels, a resident of Charlotte, North Carolina, had fallen behind on his rent and was suffering from marital difficulties. While somewhat drunk on the afternoon of January 17, 1990, he went to his aunt, 77-year old Isabelle Daniels Crawford, to ask for money and to ask if his wife and 12-year-old son could stay with her. When Crawford refused to loan Daniels money and threatened to call his mother, Daniels struck her in the mouth, knocking her to the floor. He then proceeded to strangle his aunt with an electrical cord, and left with about $75 taken from her purse.
Daniels returned to his home that evening. After smoking crack cocaine, Daniels attacked both his wife and son. Each suffered several blows before escaping outside. A neighbor noticed the commotion and entered Daniels' house; Daniels had set the house on fire. Police and fire-fighters arrived, extinguished the fire, and brought Daniels out of the house; he was then arrested for assault. Daniels suggested that the arresting officer, Thomas Griffith, visit his aunt's house nearby, where Griffith found Crawford's body.
Arrest and trial Daniels was taken to a police facility in Charlotte, where he requested a pen and paper; Daniels wrote out a confession and unsuccessfully attempted to hang himself. At trial, Daniels was convicted of Crawford's murder and sentenced to death in September 1990.
Defense lawyers, arguing in Daniels' behalf during appeals, called into question testimony given by psychiatrist Cynthia White, who testified that Daniels was not influenced by the alcohol or cocaine he consumed. Attorneys and White herself argued that the testimony she gave at trial was based upon incomplete medical information. Prosecutors countered that the psychologist's testimony was admissible under the state's rules concerning expert witnesses, and that the testimony was not a deciding argument in support of the death sentence.
Execution As was customary, North Carolina Governor Mike Easley reviewed the case for a potential clemency ruling; Crawford's grandchildren argued against Daniels' execution, suggesting that Crawford herself would have opposed the death penalty. Easley refused to grant clemency in Daniels' case.
Daniels' final meal prior to his execution was ribeye steak, a baked potato with sour cream and butter, pecan pie, Coke, a roll, and hush puppies. His final words were: "I just tell my mom, Maurice and Diane and the rest of the family and the other family, I'm sorry. I love them." Daniels was pronounced dead at North Carolina's Central Prison in Raleigh at 2:15 a.m. in the early morning of November 14, 2003. His execution was the 881st carried out in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, and the 29th in North Carolina.