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Hurlburt is calm, impassive, and entirely professional. He also doesn’t know that this, his 140th execution, will be his last.But he’s gritting his teeth and a thin sheen of sweat adorns his stern face. Hurlburt slides a leather helmet over Miller’s carefully-shaven head. He connects a cable, ensures the wingnut is finger-tight, that the electrode is flush against the skin.Born in Auburn, New York in September 1867, Hurlburt was initially hired as an electrician at Auburn Prison – the first prison to host an execution by way of electrocution, that of William Kemmler on August 6, 1890.
The horror lingered long in the mind of Sing Sing doctor Amos Squire, who described it thus: “All of us in the execution chamber – witnesses and officials – could hear them, as could those of the seven who went first.The “State Electrician,” John Hurlburt, a grim-faced man in his late fifties, of average height and wearing a dark suit and spotless black shoes, steps forward. But Hurlburt’s disposition betrays nothing as he carefully checks the electrode strapped to Miller’s right leg.The electrode is in working order, and the sponge it contains is soaked in brine, just as it should be.With that, he takes a few steps to the alcove where the switchboard waits.All that remains is for the warden to give the signal.