Executed November 17, 2000 by Lethal Injection in Delaware
B / M / 28 - 37 Craig Williams Her Boyfriend
79th murderer executed in U.S. in 2000
677th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Delaware in 2000
11th murderer executed in Delaware since 1976
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Dwayne L. Weeks
B / F / 27
B / M / 33
After a long history of domestic violence, Weeks broke into the Wilmington apartment of his estranged wife, Gwendolyn Weeks, and shot her twice in the head while she pleaded with a 911 operator for help. An accomplice, Arthur Govan, shot and killed her boyfriend and co-worker, Craig Williams. Weeks pled guilty and was sentenced to death. The jury recommended death for Govan, but the Judge sentenced him to life without parole.
B / M / 28 - 37
Weeks v. State, 2000 WL 33275135 (Del. 2000).
Weeks v. State, 761 A.2d 804 (2000).
Weeks v. State, 683 A.2d 60 (1996).
Weeks v. State, 653 A.2d 266 (1995).
Snyder v. Weeks, 121 S.Ct. 509 (2000).
Weeks v. Delaware, 121 S.Ct. 476 (2000).
Weeks v. Snyder, 121 S.Ct. 509 (2000).
Weeks v. Delaware, 117 S.Ct. 593 (1996).
Weeks v. Snyder, 219 F.3d 245 (3d Cir. 2000).
Delaware Department of Corrections - Inmates Sentenced to Death
Dwayne Weeks was sentenced to die for the April 10, 1992 murder of his estranged wife, Gwendolyn Weeks, 27, and her friend and co-worker Craig Williams, 33, in Wilmington, Delaware. Gwendolyn had left Dwayne after a lengthy documented history of domestic violence. Gwendolyn was shot twice in the head and Craig was shot three times by Weeks accomplice Arthur Govan as he called 911 on the phone. Weeks stole Gwendolyn's purse to make it appear as though the murder had been part of a robbery. The jury recommended a death sentence for Govan also, but the judge sentenced him to two life sentences. Weeks was arrested leaving his residence with his girlfriend who originally told police that Weeks was with her all day but later admitted that he had been out for a while. 11/15/00 - A panel of federal appeals court judges in Philadelphia has ordered the execution of Dwayne Weeks put on hold so the U.S. Supreme Court can decide whether it will take up an appeal filed by defense attorneys. The stay is being challenged by state prosecutors, who have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the order immediately so that Weeks' execution, scheduled for Friday morning, can go forward. Weeks' attorneys argued that his original defense lawyer failed to tell him about an important weakness in the prosecution's case. Before Weeks pleaded guilty in 1993, his lawyer, Jack Willard, should have told him that damaging statements made by his co-defendant, Arthur Govan, could not be used in a trial against Weeks, appeals lawyer Adam Balick said. That argument has been rejected by Delaware's Supreme Court and the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Weeks also has challenged the constitutionality of Delaware's death-penalty statute. His lawyers filed an appeal in the Third Circuit arguing that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision voids Delaware's law. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that when prosecutors argue that an aggravating factor in a crime makes the defendant eligible for a sentence stiffer than the legal maximum, only a jury may decide if the factor exists, Weeks' defense lawyer, Joe Bernstein, said. Under Delaware law, the jury recommends whether a defendant should receive the death penalty and a judge makes the final decision. In 1993, Weeks pleaded guilty to the 1992 slayings of his estranged wife, Gwendolyn Weeks, and her friend Craig Williams. A jury was empaneled for Weeks' sentencing and it voted 10-2 to recommend the death penalty. Judge John E. Babiarz ordered Weeks put to death, citing his previous criminal record and the fact that he masterminded the attack. A jury found Govan guilty of murder and recommended that he be executed, but Babiarz sentenced him to life in prison, citing his limited mental capacity and his compliant personality. - 11/16/00 - Stay was lifted
The Review : University of Delaware
Dwayne Weeks executed by state - By Yvonne Thomas and Kevin Barrett
SMYRNA, Del. - Dwayne Weeks died 1230 a.m. Friday from lethal injection in the Delaware Correctional Center. Weeks was convicted of murdering his estranged wife Gwendolyn Weeks and her boyfriend Craig Williams in 1992.
Before midnight on Friday, about 100 protesters gathered outside the prison gates, praying, waving signs and ringing bells to show they disagreed with capital punishment. "It think it is important that each time we kill in the name of justice, we kill in the name of all the citizens in our state," said Kevin O'Connell of Delaware Citizens Opposed to the Death Penalty. "Our presence shows a number of citizens don't believe in what's going to happen tonight." Meanwhile, inside the prison walls, print and broadcast media, prison officials and other witnesses gathered in Building 26, recently built by the Delaware Correctional Center for the sole purpose of housing executions. Weeks' death was the first to take place in the building. Witnesses peered through glass panes separating them from the white-clad body on the gurney. They waited for Dwayne Weeks to die. Rena Mack stood among the witnesses. Mack, the sister of Gwendolyn Weeks, watched as her sister's killer spoke his final words. Weeks glanced at the crowd through the windows on his left and right. Then he fixed his eyes on the ceiling. "Over eight years ago, I asked the Lord into my life and make me a new creature in here," he said. "I say to all who hear my voice: I hope and pray that you, too, ask the Lord to come into your heart and that you are saved." Moments after Weeks made his statement, he gasped audibly. Ninety-two seconds later, his diaphragm stilled and his eyes narrowed. Two minutes and 32 seconds later, the curtains were pulled and Dwayne Weeks was pronounced dead. Outside, the protesters, who had not yet received word of Weeks' death, continued with their demonstrations for another half an hour.
Around 12:45 a.m., a representative from the Delaware Department of Corrections arrived to inform the crowd that Weeks had been put to death. The protesters remained outside the prison. Standing in the rain, the crowd sang hymns of hope and mourning for the life that had ended during their vigil. Weeks was the 11th person executed in Delaware since 1992, when convicted serial killer Steven Pennell received lethal injection. In 1986, the General Assembly passed a statute making lethal injection the only legal method of capital punishment. Before Pennell, no one had received the death penalty in the state of Delaware since 1946. Weeks received the death penalty for breaking into his wife's Wilmington apartment and fatally shooting her and Williams through the head while she made a 911 call. Weeks' attorneys had appealed his sentence to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. They claimed Weeks had ineffective assistance of counsel. He claimed he pleaded guilty believing he would receive a lighter sentence. However, he said, his lawyers had failed to inform him that he could still receive the death penalty. After considering the aggravating circumstances of the crime, the jury recommended and the judge sentenced Weeks to receive the death penalty. Weeks' lawyers also appealed because of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the jury must unanimously vote to seek death in a capital case. In Delaware, the decision for capital punishment does not have to be unanimous. In a statement to the media after the execution, Mack said she felt a sense of closure. "This has been a long eight years for my family," she said. "A lot of unnecessary pain."
A man who shot his estranged wife and her boyfriend in the head while she pleaded with a 911 operator for help was executed by injection. Dwayne Weeks, 37, was pronounced dead early Friday, hours after the Supreme Court lifted a stay of execution issued by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. Strapped to the gurney just before his execution, Weeks said, "Over eight years ago, I asked the Lord to come into my life and make me a new creation in here. I say to all who hear my voice: I hope and pray that you, too, ask the Lord to come into your heart." On April 10, 1992, Weeks and Arthur Govan, of Chester, Pa., broke into the Wilmington apartment of Weeks' estranged wife. Gwendolyn Weeks was on the phone with a 911 operator when she died instantly from two bullets fired into her head by her husband. Her boyfriend and co-worker, Craig Williams, was shot three times in the head, twice by Govan and once by Weeks. Prosecutors said the final shot was fatal. Weeks was picked up by police within an hour of the shootings. Govan surrendered and told police that Weeks was angry with his wife, and had offered Govan money to kill her. Govan, who worked at Weeks' family's construction firm, is serving a life sentence without parole in the Delaware Correctional Center, where Weeks was executed. Prosecutors described the Weeks marriage as troubled, with Dwayne Weeks beating his wife, taking drugs and running afoul of the law. Weeks pleaded guilty at his trial over the objection of his then-lawyer. Rena Mack, whose sister was killed by Weeks, witnessed the execution. "This has been a long eight years for my family, a lot of unnecessary pain. But tonight brings a certain sense of closure," she said. He was the 11th inmate put to death in Delaware since 1992.
Rick Halperin Death Penalty News
Nov. 17, 2000 - DELAWARE
Dwayne L. Weeks was put to death early today at the Delaware Correctional Center near Smyrna for the 1992 murders of his estranged wife and a male friend. According to Department of Correction spokesman Jim Hutchison, Weeks was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 12:10 a.m.
The execution followed a frantic series of last-minute appeals launched on behalf of the condemned man by his defense team. The final effort failed at about 7 p.m. Thursday when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to act on an application from Weeks that his death sentence was unconstitutional, said Todd W. Hallidy, a spokesman for the state Department of Justice. At the same time, the high court lifted a stay of execution granted Wednesday by the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
Although there were also appeals from death penalty opponents to Gov. Thomas R. Carper, the governor did not intercede after the state Board of Pardons voted last week against recommending a commutation to life in prison. Weeks died after being strapped to a gurney and wheeled into DCC's new execution chamber. An intravenous bag and tubing was inserted into his arm and the flow of lethal substances began, administered by a DOC executioner in an adjoining room.
Witnesses for the victims and the condemned man's family observed through windows from an opposite room, separated by a stub wall. Representatives of the media, as well as 10 official witnesses selected by DOC, were also present. According to DOC spokeswoman Elizabeth S. Welch, the official witnesses were Howard Wilson, representing the Violent Crimes Compensation Board; Delaware State Police Sgt. John R. Evans, Smyrna Police Chief Richard Baldwin, Martin W. Johnson III of the Delaware Police Chiefs Council, and deputy attorneys general Marsha Epstein and Cynthia Kelsey. 4 state lawmakers rounded out the official witness list; Sen. James T. Vaughn Sr., D-Smyrna; Rep. Bruce C. Ennis, D-Smyrna; Rep. George R. "Bobby" Quillen, R-Harrington; and Clifford G. "Biff" Lee, R-Laurel. Alternate witnesses, Mrs. Welch said, were DOC staffers Joyce A. Talley and Linda A. Riddagh.
In his final 24 hours, Weeks spent his time sleeping, eating, watching television, reading and visiting with members of his family, Ms. Welch said.
Weeks pleaded guilty in 1993 to 1st-degree murder in the deaths of Gwendolyn Weeks, 27, and Craig Williams, 33, a friend who was with Mrs. Weeks in her Bear apartment at the time. Police said Weeks and another man, Arthur Govan, broke down the door to the residence as Mrs. Weeks was placing a desperate 911 call for help. Mr. Williams and Mrs. Weeks were each shot in the head as they huddled together on the living room floor. Police said Mrs. Weeks was shot twice in the head. Mr. Williams was shot 3 times in the head, as well as in his arm and chest. The arm wound, authorities said, came as he raised his arm in an attempt to defend himself.
Govan was convicted of 1st-degree murder in a jury trial and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Prosecutors said Weeks masterminded the killings, roped Govan into the scheme and even offered to pay him for being an accomplice.
Weeks becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Delaware and the 11th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1992. Weeks becomes the 79th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 677th overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.
(sources: Newszap & Rick Halperin)
The Collegian Online
"Dwayne's Body," by Dennis Wilson.
"Whatever the part played by feelings of humanity for the condemned in the abandonment of the liturgy of public executions, there was, in any case, on the part of the state power, a political fear of the effects of these ambiguous rituals." — Michel Foucault
A cold and empty phone booth stood at the edge of an open field of dead weeds and heavy night, across the road from a closed mechanic's shop. We were lost. We imagined for a moment walking across the vacant street, picking up the hard plastic receiver, dialing 911. There was a murder about to happen, we would tell the emergency operator, a man was about to be killed, we would tell her, our breath short and smoky in the leaning booth.
We laughed, imagining it: the red and blue strobe lights slicing through the night, fast and determined police cars making frantic turns, the looks of stupor and confusion when the policemen found themselves standing outside of the Delaware Department of Corrections as the cold gathered and it began to rain. Standing there, unsure and feeling cheated out of an actual murder.
After driving past a few times, trying to look as nonchalant as it was possible to look in our dark car and our college skins, we pulled up to one of the roadblocks that had been set up around the prison. We approached a policeman holding a radio and rolled our window down as directed. The November air rushed in against our artificial heat, and the policeman asked us what our business was.
"We're here to protest tonight's execution," our driver said. We saw no point in being vague about these things. "Hold on," the young policeman said, and stepped away from the car to speak into his radio. In front of us, in the rain, another policemen walked past with a large black dog on a short leash. The rain, and the night, and our destination; every movement seemed slow, submarine. It was about a quarter past ten. I imagined roadblocks like this one all around the prison, flashing lights echoing out away from the approaching moment, compact men with close-shaved heads waiting in the rain, asking questions, redirecting traffic.
Over $25,000 would be spent on overtime pay alone, and it wasn't to prevent the prisoner from escaping; it was simply the cost of making one man's death as shielded and invisible to the public as possible, a part of the ritual and circumstance that was summoned up to preserve our current explanation of justice.
We pulled up to a second officer, standing by the side of the road in a reflective yellow raincoat. We rolled down our window again. The policeman leaned over. "For or against?" he asked. In the car, there was momentary confusion. And then we understood, and laughed uneasily. "Oh," our driver replied, "we're against the death penalty." Later, we would laugh about this. What if we had said "both"? Or what if two of us had said "for," and two "against"? It was one of those things we wished we had thought of at the time, but didn't.
"Drive up here and park your car on the right," the officer directed. Having done this, we gathered our jackets and stepped out of the car. We were approached by three or four other policemen. We were given a few instructions: once we left our car, we could not return unless it was to leave the premises. If we wanted to protest against the execution of Dwayne Weeks, we had to stand in the designated protest area — there was a separate area for those who approved of the death penalty on the other side of the road. We were not to approach that area, or even cross to the other side of the road. Again, once we entered the protest area, we could not step outside of it unless it was to leave.
This having been said, we walked to the protest area under the gaze of the policemen. The area in question was about 200 square feet, demarcated by a chest-high orange fence strung with POLICE LINE — DO NOT CROSS tape. The entirety of the muddy square was grossly illuminated by a set of floodlights that poured out white light in slashes across the freezing rain. The whole of it was patrolled periodically by a police officer with a German Shepherd. We continued to do what we had been doing all night — we half-joked about it. Hey, we said, they're policemen. Maybe this is the only way they know to go about things.
We were the first ones to arrive, and for a very long time we stood out in the middle of our field, alone under the rain, removed from the view of even a passing motorist. We huddled together with our backs turned to the floodlights, away from the prison complex. We thought about waiting in our car, but then we remembered the rules. We were approached by local television anchors and journalists who seemed to emerge from the night like slow trains. Hooded men hoisted their unwieldy cameras and bathed us in more artificial light as a woman stood in front of us, asking us questions about our motivations, our reasoning, speaking in clipped tones to the perpetually silent cameramen.
Students from college newspapers asked us similar questions. One man asked us how we could sanction the activities of a heinous man such as Dwayne Weeks, who had admitted to killing two people in a fit of calculated anger. They wanted short, direct answers to their weighted, impossible questions. They wanted to get out of the rain. We gave them their answers, and they left as they had come, leaving us still huddled in our oversized pen. Not long after they left, others like us began to arrive.
At about 12:20 a.m., a non-descript blue car drove across the empty field and pulled up to the protest area. By that time, about 80 other people had assembled to show their disapproval of the death penalty: church congregations, Amnesty International representatives, members of the Delaware State Green Party, and others. The rain had abated, and now came down in cold, drifting drizzles, highlighted like hollow fragments of crystal in the floodlights. For the past twenty minutes, a large bell supplied by a local order of Franciscan monks had been tolling, and all else had been silence and spotted flames from the white candles supplied by Amnesty. Across the road, the area for pro-death penalty advocates was empty.
As the car came to a full stop, a man emerged from the passenger side. Those few reporters that were left crowded around him as he spoke from the confines of his business suit, which looked strangely out of place. He stated simply that at 12:16 a.m., the state of Delaware had executed Dwayne Weeks on two charges of first degree murder. Having said this, he stepped back into the car, which promptly drove back across the field in the direction of the prison. There was a momentary silence, until a male voice from somewhere in the crowd started to sing 'We Shall Overcome.' Other voices picked it up, and the song ran its usual course. After the song had finished, a man from a local anti-death penalty organization said a few words about the ongoing struggle. Following this, we walked with the others out of the demarcated area and back to our cars, having been unseen by anyone expect for the police, a handful of reporters, and ourselves. Our hands were cold, and difficult to move.