WARNING: Graphic

Greg Angel is one of about 20 people staring through a glass window as convicted killer Patrick Hannon appears shackled to a bed on the other side.

The American CBS News reporter, based in Florida, has already witnessed the executions of two death row inmates. On Wednesday, his tally rose to three when he watched Hannon be put to death by chemical injection, in Florida State Prison, news.com.au reports.

Hannon was executed for the 1991 murders of Brandon Snider, 27 and Robert Carter, 28.


Nearly three decades later, family members of Carter and Snider gather in a small room, with a large window, to watch the man - who took the lives of those young men - lose his own life as ordered by the Florida Supreme Court.

Mr Angel was one of four members of the media invited to witness the execution in a bid to ensure a "humane process".

"It's seen that the media has a watchdog advocacy role and it's the reporters' job to ensure a lethal injection is carried out with an accurate record of events," Mr Angel told news.com.au.

Patrick Hannon was executed on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, for killing two people in 1991. Photo / AP
Patrick Hannon was executed on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, for killing two people in 1991. Photo / AP

Despite the nature of the assignment, it's not one that comes at a personal cost, according to the reporter.

"What I find most striking is how unaffected I am," he said.

"Many define an execution as a barbaric act, but it is veiled in the guise of a medical procedure. It is very anticlimactic: There are no violent physical reactions, one you may have with an execution by electrocution.

"It's as though you are watching someone fall asleep, yet as you watch, you can see the sudden change in colour in the inmate's face.

"Their lips first appearing darker in colour, and then their face becoming an ashy white. That is the only real reminder that what you are watching is someone being put to death."


It's late afternoon on November 8, 2017 when a small media contingent, including Mr Angel, is piled into a van and driven to the middle of a razor-wired compound inside Florida State Prison.

The only items they are allowed to bring inside are five $1 notes - for vending machines - and ID. Inside, they are each given a manila envelope with a palm-sized notepad and two pencils.

About 3.5 hours later, the group is eventually escorted from a waiting room to the witness chamber where 18 people are already seated, " their gaze locked forward on the 4.5 x 12 foot reflective glass window".

"The black curtain is drawn and it's easy to see the reflections of their faces on the glass," Mr Angel says.

"We're not sure who is who specifically, but we do know they are the families of Robert Carter and Brandon Snider."

The tiny room is busy but silent "with the exception of the buzzing of the window-unit airconditioner".

"It buzzes as the clock keeps ticking," Mr Angel says.

At 8.36pm, the witnesses watch a dark curtain rise on the window - which doubles as a one-way mirror - and reveals a sterilised white room on the other side.

"There is Patrick Hannon, a white man, 6'3", short, trimmed hair, and beard," Mr Angel says.

"He is tethered by thick leather straps to a gurney in the centre of the room.

"His body covered in a white sheet, with only his head, neck, and forearm exposed."

Hannon is already hooked up, via his forearm, to a machine that will pump lethal drugs into his body "just moments from now", according to Mr Angel.

"Hannon's head tilts up, his eyes shift left to right as he tries to assess the room," Mr Angel says.

"The only thing he sees, from his vantage point, is reflective glass. He has no way of seeing into the witness room, who is there."

Hannon delivers a final statement before the team warden announces: "With the preparation phase complete, the penalty phase will now begin."

Mr Angel documented Hannon's execution and shared his notes on the 'penalty phase' with news.com.au.

8.38pm "The lethal cocktail of drugs that will kill Hannon begins to be administered through an IV hooked to Hannon's forearm. Hannon's head is tilted forward, with a long stare at the glass. He rests his head, but only for a brief moment, before again tilting his head up again. His eyes moving back and forth, surveying the room the best he can."

"Hannon lays his head back on the gurney for the final time. His mouth is slightly open.

His lips fluttering. His face will give the only clues to the process, this journey from life to death unfolding before our eyes. Hannon's hands are covered in a white glove-like fabric."

"There is minimal chest movement, but a few coughs or gasps for air. For the next minute, it remains constant, multiple coughs, but nothing alarming. Each person seems to have a different reaction."

"A few minutes after the process began, the warden approaches Hannon. The warden uses his finger to flick Hannon's eyes a few times. The warden then grabs Hannon by the shoulder and vigorously shakes him. This is the assessment to ensure Hannon is unconscious, to lessen any adverse pain or effect of the soon to be delivered lethal drugs.

In Florida lethal injections, there are three primary drugs used in the cocktail, administered in stages at various doses.

The Etomidate injection is used first, to ensure the inmate is unconscious. A round of Rocuronium Bromide is then used to relax the muscles, essentially to paralyse the inmate, and the third and final and fatal drug is the Potassium Acetate. This is the drug that stops the heart."

"Satisfied Hannon is unconscious, the next round of drugs is administered, and the process continues in a typical anticlimactic fashion. There is little movement from Hannon. However, there is a change in colour in his face. I notice the first appearance of a darker colour in Hannon's lips; a sign of death setting in."

"Hannon's face appears to become more ashy white, his lips now even darker in colour than a few minutes before."

"We are now 10 minutes into the process. If all is going accordingly to how it should, we should be done in a few minutes. (Former death row inmate) Mark James Asay was pronounced dead 11 minutes after the process began. (Another former death row inmate) Michael Lambrix's lethal injection took 15 minutes."

"A tall, bald man, wearing a doctor's coat and stethoscope around his neck pulls open a curtain from behind the warden. The doctor walks into the execution chamber/room, and makes a quick right turn to approach Hannon's body. The doctor begins to perform a physical exam, using a flashlight to find signs of eye movement in Hannon's eyes. The doctor checks for any other signs of life, a pulse, breathing, anything. No signs of life are found.

The doctor mouths a few words to the warden, and exits through the curtained doorway where he came in. The warden reaches over and picks up the receiver of a beige phone on the wall, presumably telling the Governor's office that the execution has been completed.

The warden hangs ups, turns to the window where witnesses are on the other side and announces "The matter of State of Florida v Patrick Hannon was carried out at 8:50pm."

The black curtain then abruptly drops as quickly as it went up.

In 12 minutes, Hannon went from a condemned inmate on Florida's Death Row to a former existent being of Earth."

CBS News reporter Greg Angel told news.com.au he's not affected by watching death row inmates be executed. Photo / Facebook
CBS News reporter Greg Angel told news.com.au he's not affected by watching death row inmates be executed. Photo / Facebook


Mr Angel told news.com.au that his experiences watching death row executions haven't shaped his views on the death penalty.

"I believe it is a divisive issue, one that is up to society and government to determine the merits of," he said.

But he's adamant the executions he witnessed were carried out in an ethical and humane way.

"I can say through my observations, as lethal as the end result it, is does not appear from the outside looking in, to be a violent, painful, process," he said.

"There is no surge of physical response, no explosion of verbal cries.

"It is silent, and somewhat peaceful.

"A drastic difference in tone compared to the violent crimes these men are convicted of carrying out that put them on the gurney in the first place."