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Condemned Killer to Meet With Medicine Man Before Execution

March 2, 1993

SMYRNA, Del. (AP) _ A Sioux Indian who wants to die for slitting a friend’s throat in a drunken rage will get last rites from a medicine man who has been helping him prepare for execution by injection.

James Allen Red Dog, whose execution is scheduled for Wednesday, has said he wants to die. He has refused to appeal the death sentence that followed his no-contest plea last year to first-degree murder, rape, kidnapping and weapons charges.

After killing Hugh Pennington of suburban Wilmington in February 1991, he kidnapped and repeatedly raped a woman.

Red Dog, who authorities say has been involved in four other killings, was in Delaware as a federally protected witness in exchange for testimony about prison gangs and the American Indian Movement when he killed Pennington.

The murder prompted Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del., to sponsor legislation requiring federal officials to notify state officials when a dangerous criminal is placed in their jurisdiction.

Red Dog’s family has supported his decision to die, saying in a statement: ″Our brother will take these last steps to his death with pride and dignity ... and proud that he’s giving in return for what he took - a life.″

Describing himself as a warrior, Red Dog has been practicing Sioux spiritual rituals in his cell at the Delaware Correctional Center. The Sioux believe that when they die, their spirit journeys across the universe.

But Charles Thunderhawk Lone Wolf, a Sioux religious leader who failed to persuade Red Dog to change his mind, said Tuesday Red Dog will be committing suicide if he doesn’t fight for his life.

″He doesn’t die a warrior’s death. That is a bad misconception,″ he said.

Lone Wolf believes Red Dog has gotten bad spiritual advice. He denounced the medicine man who will be present at the execution as a fraud and said the state’s corrections commissioner, Robert J. Watson, also an American Indian, should step down.

The medicine man, John Morsette, who traces his lineage to three North Dakota tribes, will perform final rites with Red Dog before the execution, scheduled between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Wednesday in a trailer at the prison.

Red Dog’s crimes have left bitter feelings among some members of the Nanticoke tribe in southern Delaware. Red Dog befriended the tribe after he moved to Delaware, then ran to them for refuge when he kidnapped the woman after killing Pennington.

″When everybody knew what he had done, there was nobody who would help him because we have families to protect, too,″ said Kenneth Red Deer Clark, the tribal chief.

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