Murder, He Wrote: Virginia Man Executed in Case Involving Mocking Letter to Prosecutors

Paul Warner Powell could be the first man put to death in part for sheer cockiness. Powell was convicted in a second trial of the murder and attempted rape of Stacie Reed, 16. The evidence against him included a letter that he wrote to prosecutors mocking them with admissions of his crime after he assumed that he could not be tried again for the crime after a reversal.

Powell was convicted in the 1999 murder of Stacie Reed and the rape of her 14-year-old sister in their Manassas home. In his letter, he wrote “[s]ince I have already been indicted on first degree murder and the Va. Supreme Court said that I can’t be charged with capital murder again, I figured I would tell you the rest of what happened on Jan. 29, 1999, to show you how stupid all of y’all … are.”

He added “I guess I forgot to mention these events when I was being questioned. Ha Ha!” he wrote in 2001. “Do you just hate yourself for being so stupid … and saving me?” Not really. He died at 9 pm last night.

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79 thoughts on “Murder, He Wrote: Virginia Man Executed in Case Involving Mocking Letter to Prosecutors”

  1. Have you tried that approach, working out in the yard?

    No I’m under house arrest, I mean rest, I’m not allowed in the yard 🙂

  2. AY,

    Yes I have and often I’d agree. But bdaman is referring to that bug I had just before moving. It was some kind of flu or something, but working in the yard with that one? Eh, not likely. It just saps your energy. I got so tired making coffee one Sunday morning, I just went back to bed. A really nasty bug. My mother got it as well and it took her almost a month to kick it.

  3. Duh,

    I was following you up until this point.

    Could you explain this in terms that I understand. I agree with the first part of the sentence, but with the prior know statement by me.

    “I just don’t believe societal vengeance serves a good purpose. Society knows that too. If they didn’t, they would care less about the method of carrying out the sentence.”

  4. Buddha,

    Lot’s of sleep. Hmm, figured a good workout in the yard would make most people tired anyway. Have you tried that approach, working out in the yard?

  5. bdaman,

    If you had that bug I had? Be careful. It’ll trick you. You’ll think your fine once or twice, but oh no, you’re not. Lots of sleep is what finally got me well.

  6. Buddha that was it. Thanks for looking it up. I’m not up to par as of late. I think I got what you had and I don’t like taking medicine, worse I have now given it to my little one.

  7. AY,

    “NOR SHOULD the DEATH PENALTY ever be used on a person that is mentally infirm. I find it reprehensible that they can drug them to make them sane in order to execute them. Something just wrong about that.”


    To me that’s the very definition of cruel and unusual. Make someone sane just long enough to tell them you are going to kill them? It’s a bit like pulling a drowning man out of the ocean, giving him a glass of water and then promptly tossing him back in the sea.

  8. mESPO:

    “More proof, it seems, of the wisdom of Oscar Wilde who reminded us that, “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”

    He may have been a bit of a dandy but he sure could turn a phrase.

  9. AY,

    To expand:

    If we only execute the arrogant sociopath are we only executing those with a mental illness? Is a person who brags about killing another not mentally ill?

    Don’t get me wrong. I can be one vengeful SOB. If Powell did what he did to one of mine he’d be chewing on his pecker while I beat him to a bloody pulp. Then I’d bury him alive. That’s the DDP (Duh Death Penalty).

    I just don’t believe societal vengeance serves a good purpose. Society knows that too. If they didn’t, they would care less about the method of carrying out the sentence.

  10. As stated before, I am for the death penalty in principle for certain crimes. However, the economics of the process do not wash. It is cheaper to warehouse them. This is in addition to the unacceptably high number of wrongful convictions.


    Here’s a story about the Houston lab you were thinking of and their bad scientist, James Bolding.

    This being said, most scientists are in it for the science. In Houston? Eh, not so much.

  11. AY:

    I find myself in total agreement with you here. Like you, I am firmly against the death penalty imposed by Powell on his victim. While I have trepidation against the sanction when placed in the hands of the state and premised on dubious evidence, I have no such concern here. In fact, had I been asked, I would have dutifully turned all the electricity off in my house to insure full capacity for Ol’ Sparky. Barbaric, maybe, but a gesture to civility and respect for human life – the innocent variety .

  12. Duh,

    I do not understand the point that you are trying to make. Please expand on this so that I may properly respond. Thank you.

  13. Bdaman,

    I had check that out before I posted that. So unless your previous post had been deleted you were not here don’t you see?

    Mike A.,

    In a case such as Death resulting from a Rape, I too am opposed to the Death Penalty.


    I am sure that the above answers your question.


    99% of the time the Forensic Labs work for the Prosecutor to obtain a conviction. And yes, I am aware of the cooked results in Houston. Texas btw does not hold this victory all by itself.

  14. Mike Appleton,

    I often try to explain to people that we all agree on much more than we disagree. Fortunately, those things that most of us all agree on don’t get debated. 🙂

    AY, If I understand you correctly, only people who are arrogant, or those who are repentent deserve the death penalty. I don’t see any others who will confess to their crime. Some would say the he who repents should be spared. That would leave only those who are arrogant. That would be mostly sociopaths. Is that not a form of mental illness? I think you see where I’m going with this. That’s why I’m happy to let those who are truly guilty suffer by being permanently excluded from society.

  15. I used to consider DNA reliable enough of an indicator but today, I am not so sure now, as it is possible to cook the results.

    Wasn’t there a big scandal involving the Houston crime lab over this a few years ago.

  16. AY, Does any state put the death penalty on the table for rape? I thought Coker v Georgia (1977) eliminated that as a possibility.

  17. It is curious that Bdaman did not post until duh was asked.

    did not post? you mean as far as you know. Have you not seen how many new posters have been visiting the blog since it was announced that Professor Turley has received yet another honorable mention. I also see that he has interjected for a call of civility a few times. I’m sure he’s proud that you “Heed the Call”.

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