Arizona’s most notorious death row inmates past and present have incredible stories.
A visit to the victim's wife, parking confusion leading to the arrest of Harding and his controversial 11 minute execution are some of the interesting details in today's story.
DONALD EUGENE HARDING
Date of Birth: March 1, 1949
Executed: April 6, 1992
Harding was executed for the murders of two men in Tucson. However these crimes were at the tail end a long crime spree which took him from Arkansas to Arizona.
On January 25, 1980, Harding, posing as a security guard, went into a motel room in Tucson where businessman Robert Wise was meeting business associate Martin Concannon. Harding hogtied them, beat Wise with a lamp and stuffed socks into Concannon’s mouth. He then shot both of them in the head and chest.
Harding stole items from both men and took Concannon’s car.
Harding made his way to Phoenix in the stolen car where he killed another man, Allen Gage, by stuffing socks in his mouth, after binding him with tape he got from Gage’s colonoscopy bag.
Later that night, in a strange turn of events, Harding went to Wise’s home in Mesa. He asked Wise’s wife if “Bob was there.” She told him no, but that she was expecting him home any moment and that he was already overdue. Wise’s wife would later testify that she believed Harding left her home because he was afraid of the large family dog.
Back in Tucson, police were just getting to the La Quinta Motel where they found the two deceased bodies, bound and tied to the bed.
Blood was found on the lamp used to strike Wise, but for some reason it was found still plugged in the wall.
The autopsy performed on Martin Concannon would show that he survived the the gunshot wounds, instead dying from lack of oxygen.
Harding drove the stolen car to Flagstaff and tried to park the car at the Skydome on the campus of Northern Arizona University. A police officer directing traffic told Harding that the parking lot was for “booster club members only,” and he would have to find another place to park.
After having a conversation with Harding, the officer thought it was odd to hear someone with a Southern accent driving a car with Ohio license plates. He contacted his dispatcher asking for a records check and found out the car was stolen from Tucson. After requesting assistance, the officer arrested Harding. Evidence used in his conviction was found inside the car.
Harding’s crimes in Arizona were part of a crime spree Harding committed since his escape from an Arkansas jail in 1979.
From the time of his escape to his arrest in Flagstaff Harding was linked to six murders and 13 robberies, in the cities of Chicago, Knoxville, Dallas, Waco, Salt Lake City, Lake Tahoe, Bakersfield, San Diego, Tucson and Phoenix.
Harding was the last inmate in Arizona to be forced to the gas chamber. After his 11-minute execution on April 6, 1992, Arizona voters required prisoners condemned after November 1992 to be executed by lethal injection. Those prisoners sentenced to death before November 15, 1992 were given the option of the gas chamber or lethal injection. (Karl Le Grand was the only one to choose the gas chamber.)
Arizona switched to the gas chamber in 1933 after a condemned woman was accidentally decapitated during her hanging.
Harding’s last Meal:
Several Fried Eggs
Several Strips of Bacon
Toast with Butter and Honey