Until He Is Dead: A History of Nebraska's Death Penalty

Air Date: 10/01/2015

In 1878 Kearney County Sheriff lead convicted murderer Samuel Richards to the gallows built for the occasion in Minden. As hundreds of spectators watched, a hangman placed a noose around his neck. Thus, Richards became the first person in the state's history to be legally executed.  

Whether by hanging or electrocution, Nebraska, since declaring statehood, has used capital punishment sparingly. As the state prepares for its first execution by lethal injection, we ask a simple question, "How did we get here?" The result is the documentary …until he is dead: A history of Nebraska's death penalty.

Covering a century and a half of differing methods, changing laws, and shifting public opinion, the program illustrates the fascinating and sometimes disturbing stories of those executed with rarely seen photographs. Each of the episodes sheds light on the legal and ethical choices made by public officials. Viewers will leave with fresh insights into the rationale for and opposition to the ultimate punishment given the worst of society's offenders. 

Research revealed a wealth of long-forgotten details about Nebraska's death penalty that both amaze and educate. Nebraska Public Media examined hundreds of old public documents, press accounts, and court records from across the state. In addition, interviews with experts in history and law provide context to the stories of horrific crimes and the public's demand for justice.

The result is a program that will become an essential part of the discussion of Nebraska's complicated relationship with capital punishment. 

....until he is dead: A history of Nebraska's death penalty premiered in February 2013.