Recent Death Sentences By Name, Race, County, And Year

2021 Death Sentences by Name, Race, and County

Eighteen new death sentences were imposed across the United States in 2021, matching 2020’s total as the fewest in any year since the Supreme Court struck down all existing death-penalty statutes in 1972.

Seven states imposed death sentences in 2021. Oklahoma and Alabama each handed down four new sentences; California and Texas each imposed three. Florida imposed two; and Nebraska and Tennessee imposed one death sentence each. Alabama’s disproportionately high number of death sentences was skewed by its outlier sentencing practices. No Alabama jury unanimously voted for death, but Alabama — alone among the states —permits judges to impose the death penalty based upon a non-unanimous jury recommendation. Three death sentences were imposed following non-unanimous jury votes. In the fourth case, the defendant waived his right to a sentencing jury.

Only two U.S. counties — Los Angeles County, California and Oklahoma County, Oklahoma — were responsible for more than a single death sentence. The two sentences imposed in Los Angeles both resulted from jury verdicts handed down before the county elected reform prosecutor George Gascón, who has pledged not to seek the death penalty. The final judicial sentencings in those cases had been delayed by the pandemic. One death sentence in Florida also was the result of pandemic-delayed court proceedings, after a jury recommended a death sentence in 2019.

Notably, there were no death sentences in many formerly heavy-use death-penalty counties, including Harris County, Texas; Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; and Duval County, Florida. The election of reform prosecutors in those and other counties across the country has contributed significantly to the continuing low number of new death sentences.

The majority (61.1%) of people sentenced to death in 2021 were either Black or Latinx. No white defendant was sentenced to death in trial proceedings that did not involve any white victim. Alabama, Texas, and Oklahoma collectively accounted for 61.1% of the year’s new death sentences.



Defendants Sentenced to Death in 2021

First NameMiddle NameLast NameStateDate Sentence Formally ImposedCountyRace of DefendantNumber/Race of Victim(s)Age at CrimeNon-Unanimous / Judge Sentencing
Donnie AbernathyAL11/29/21CherokeeWhite3 White Females38Jury waived / 1-judge sentence
Christopher HendersonAL10/13/21MadisonWhite2 White Female; 2 White Males4011-1 jury / 1-judge sentence
MichaelAnthonyPowellAL5/24/21ShelbyBlack1 White Female4311-1 jury / 1-judge sentence
MichaelDaleIervolinoAL11/30/21St. Clair CountyLatinx1 White Male3210-2 jury / 1-judge sentence
DouglasJadeHarrisCA7/1/21Los AngelesBlack1 Latino Male, 2 Latina Females30 
Michael GargiuloCA7/16/21Los AngelesWhite1 White Female, 1 Latina Female25 
Adrian OrtizCA2/26/21TulareLatinx1 Latino Male19 
Billy WellsFL5/25/21BradfordWhite1 White Male43 
Reynald Figueroa SanabriaFL7/2/21PinellasLatinx1 White Female, 1 White Male41 
Aubrey TrailNE6/9/21SalineWhite1 White Female513-judge panel
JosephFidelAllinieceOK7/27/21ClevelandBlack1 White Female29 
Daniel VasquezOK11/5/21McClainLatinx1 Black female33 
Derrick LadayOK7/7/21OklahomaBlack1 Black Male22 
William ReeceOK8/19/21OklahomaWhite1 White Female38 
Steven WigginsTN8/12/21DicksonWhite1 White Male31 
Otis McKaneTX8/6/21BexarBlack1 White Male31 
TyroneJamaalWilliamsTX11/19/21HuntBlack2 White Females30 
WilliamGeorgeDavisTX10/27/21SmithWhite4 White Males34 

2021 Death Sentences by Race of Defendant and Victim

RaceNumber of Defendants Sentenced to Death
White 8
Black 6
Latinx 4
Total 18
Race of Victim(s)Number of Cases
White 13
Latinx 2
Black 2
Multiple Races (Including White) 1

2021 Death Sentences by County

CountyNumber of Death Sentences
Los Angeles, CA 2
Oklahoma, OK 2
Bexar, TX 1
Bradford, FL 1
Cherokee, AL 1
Cleveland, OK 1
Dickson, TN 1
Hunt, TX 1
Madison, AL 1
McClain, OK 1
Pinellas, FL 1
Saline, NE 1
Shelby, AL 1
Smith , TX 1
St. Clair County, AL 1
Tulare, CA 1

2021 Death Sentences by State

StateDeath Sentences in 2021
Alabama 4
Oklahoma 4
California 3
Texas 3
Florida 2
Nebraska 1
Tennessee 1