AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
ORLANDO, Fla. _ Lynda Lyon Block was never one to go along with the crowd.
As a grade-schooler, she favored books over television. At Edgewater High School, class of 1966, she skipped rock for Ravel. As an adult, she edited her own magazine, took long-distance sailing trips, rode a motorcycle cross-country and joined the Libertarian party.
It only stands to reason that she would display the same flair for independence now, as a death-row inmate.
Block _ former Cub Scout mom, Humane Society volunteer and Friends of the Library president _ may well become the last murderer to die in the Alabama electric chair.
The 54-year-old Orlando native is scheduled to be executed at 12:01 a.m. EDT Friday for the 1993 shooting death of police Sgt. Roger Motley, a small-town cop who thought he was coming to the aid of needy strangers in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Opelika, Ala.
A recent change in Alabama law allows death-row inmates to choose lethal injection over the electric chair, but it does not take effect until July 1. That will be too late for Block.
She requested clemency in a written appeal to Gov. Don Siegelman this week, but was tersely denied. She had put herself on the fast track to the electric chair by insisting on acting as her own attorney in her trial, then refusing to cooperate with the lawyer who was appointed to handle her appeal.
"I tried my best to save her life," said the appeals attorney, W. David Nichols. "The warden took me down to her cell and said: `Lynda, they're trying to fry you. You oughta talk to this boy. He wants to help.' But she wasn't interested."
She wasn't interested because, in her view, the state of Alabama does not exist, the legal system is corrupt, the federal government is the result of a grand conspiracy, and she is one of the few who knows it.
Block considers herself a member of the patriot movement, a small but avid militia group whose advocates believe that many of the day-to-day governmental functions that most people take for granted _ such as income tax, birth certificates and drivers licenses _ are illegal.
They are illegal, they argue, because the U.S. government has been swallowed up, gradually and surreptitiously, by power-hungry bureaucracies that have made a mockery of the U.S. Constitution and eclipsed the intentions of the founding fathers.
Block and like-minded "constitutionalists" have a solution. They have seceded from the United States, one by one. They revoke official documents such as birth certificates and drivers licenses, actions that help to make them, they claim, "Free American Inhabitants."
To support their position, they cite obscure legal precedents, forgotten constitutional amendments and stirring quotes from the country's founding fathers.
In her own murder trial, Block maintained that the state of Alabama …