Herbert Blakeney, Pennsylvania

 

Update: Monday, August 31, 2015 9:32 am EDT

Herbert John Blakeney's execution was scheduled to occur at 7 pm EDT, on Friday, September 4, 2015, at the State Correctional Institute Rockview in Rockview, Pennsylvania. Herbert’s execution has been stayed. Forty-nine-year-old Herbert is convicted of murdering his 14-month-old stepson Basil Blakeney on February 2, 2000, at his estranged wife’s apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Herbert has spent the past 13 years on Pennsylvania’s death row.

Herbert’s execution has been stayed by the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. They stayed the execution on July 21, 2015. This was Herbert’s second execution warrant.

According to Herbert, he was negated and abused by his mother and by her husband, Herbert’s step-father. Allegedly, his father abandoned him when he was young. Herbert also alleges that his family tried to have him killed. While in prison, Herbert has converted to Islam, taking the name Luqman Bilal Abdullah Muhammad.

On the days leading up to February 2, 2000, Herbert Blakeney’s estranged wife, Sacha Blakeney, had called police several times to have Blakeney escorted away from her apartment, including once on February 1, 2000. After police escorted Herbert home, he later returned to the apartment to retrieve some clothing. He also repeatedly called the apartment, wanting to speak to Sacha, who was out. Sacha had left her two infant children with a friend, Duana Swanson, with whom Sacha was sharing the apartment. Another friend, Garth George, came by to keep Duana company.

 

That evening Garth was out buying beer when he ran into Herbert, who informed Garth that, “he was getting ready to do something.” Herbert also said that he did not want Garth involved. When Garth returned to the apartment, he discovered that the telephone lines had been cut. Garth called the police from a payphone, and they promised to keep an eye on the apartment. Garth called them again when he left for the evening.

 

During the early morning hours of February 2, 2000, Herbert entered the apartment with an eight-inch butcher knife. Herbert entered the Duana’s room and dragged her from the bed while she screamed. A child ran from the room, which caused Herbert to release Duana and chase the child. The child attempted to escape out the back door, which he opened to find Harrisburg Police Officer William Vernouski standing with his gun drawn, having heard Duana screams.

 

Upon seeing the officer, Herbert turned to Duana and stabbed her in the chest. He then grabbed Sacha’s 14-month-old son, Basil, who he had not fathered. Herbert threatened to kill the child and held the knife at Basil’s throat. Officer Vernouski, who was now accompanied by several other officers, attempted to get Herbert to release the child and his weapon. Herbert refused, retreating to the back stairs.

 

Hebert slit Basil’s throat to the bone, using a sawing motion. Police officers shot Herbert three times before he was willing to release the child and his weapons. Herbert survived his injuries.

 

Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Basil. Please pray for strength for the family of Herbert. Please pray that if Herbert is innocent or lacks the competency to be executed, evidence will be provided prior to his execution. Please pray that Herbert will come to find peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already found one.

 

 

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