Daryl Keith Holton has selected electrocution instead of lethal injection for his execution scheduled for Sept. 19.
A Bedford County jury imposed four death sentences on the Shelbyville man for the November 1997 shooting deaths of his three sons and step-daughter.
Because Tennessee changed its method of execution in 1999, inmates previously placed on death row are offered the choice between electrocution and injection, according to Riverbend Maximum Security Institution Warden Ricky J. Bell during a media tour in anticipation of the execution of Gregory Thompson.
Thompson's execution was set for May 17, but placed on hold by a federal judge to consider arguments that he was not mentally competent to know the state wanted to kill him for his murder of Brenda Blanton Lane of Shelbyville.
Another argument raised to prevent executions has been that lethal injection is cruel and inhumane -- that the poison causes an excruciating pain which can't be detected by others after the condemned is heavily sedated and then administered muscle relaxers.
Holton's refusal to speak with anyone but his mother has led to a Tennessee Supreme Court decision that he has no legal counsel to argue against his execution, regardless of his mental condition.
On May 15, Holton made a rare public statement. He would not oppose the setting of an execution date.
It was probably no surprise to his uncle, Gary "Red" Holton who employed and housed his nephew at his auto repair shop here.
"Daryl will not try to stop that execution," Red Holton said last week
Daryl Holton killed the four children in Red Holton's garage.
On Aug. 30, the warden at Riverbend announced that Times-Gazette staff writer Clint Confehr, who's assigned to write about the criminal justice system, had been selected as one of seven news media representatives to witness Holton's execution. State law provides for such witnesses with relatives.
"They asked me and I declined," Red Holton said. "I had to kind of deal with all of it. He worked here. I deal with it every day when I open this building ... but this is where I make a living."
"I wouldn't want to spend the rest of my days like that," Red Holton said of incarceration faced by his nephew.
Former district attorney Mike McCown, who supervised Holton's murder trial, has said another legal maneuver will postpone the execution, and the condemned man's uncle sees it the same way.
"Laws aren't written for average, law-abiding people," Red Holton said. "They're written for the criminals.
"If we had public executions and made the elementary school children witnesses, it would make an impression.
"We have nothing to deter crime," he said.
Holton divorced his wife, Crystle, in 1993 after she became pregnant by another man. Reconciliation had failed. He concluded that his children's lives were ruined because they'd be raised in a broken home, so he killed them. He planned to go to Rutherford County and kill their mother and himself but realized if he died, he couldn't explain himself, so he surrendered to police in Shelbyville.
Daryl Holton was in the military during the Gulf War. That was "not directly" related to the crimes, "but when he came out of the military, because of her (Crystle), he had nothing and he gave up."
Daryl Holton "was the nicest guy. If your oil plug came out, he'd put it back in and not charge you. The next day, he'd not talk with you," Red Holton said, calling that a "split personality."
However, "His IQ was brilliant. He's very intelligent."