Laura Wilkerson

Laura Wilkerson
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Salon.com
APRIL 29, 2011 11:06AM

Dead Women Week 3: Patriot Militia, Alabama, 2002

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          Lynda Lyon Block was always civic minded. During her lifetime she had served as President of the Young Woman's Club at her local church. A Cub Scout mom. She served as an investigator or her local Humane Society. She was a Friend of her Local Library and she was State Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Florida. She also became the last person to die in Alabama's electric chair, “Yellow Mama,” built in 1927 by a cabinetmaking inmate serving a term for burglary, Edward Mason. “I was rather proud of my work,” Mason is reported to have said.

           Lynda Lyon was born February 8, 1948 in Orlando Florida to businessman Frank Lyon and his wife. Her father died when she was young and her mother maintained that after that her daughter was forever seeking a “Prince Charming,” and had always been, “idealistic.”

           It may have been a more practical turn that in 1983 brought her back to Florida at the age of thirty-five. There she soon married sixty-eight-year-old Karl Block, a retired military man and securities broker. Karl Block had been mourning the death of his only son since the young man died in a car accident in 1974. Lynda indicated that she could fulfill that desire. Block's daughter Marie, who had attended high school with Lynda, thought Lynda must be a “gold digger” but she kept her part of the bargain and in 1984 their son, Gordon, was born.

           In the early 1990s' Lynda began to develop an interest in politics and began attending meetings of the Libertarian Party. It was at a Libertarian Rally in 1991that Lynda met George Everette Sibley, Jr., formerly of South Bend, Indiana, and they quickly bonded over shared ant-government sentiment that only deepened after the Siege of Waco in 1993. Lynda began publishing a small-circulation publication, Liberatus, where she contributed articles such as The Day Our Country Was Stolen -- How the 14th Amendment Enslaved Us All Without A Shot Fired." She moved more to the radical fringe of the Libertarian Party, becoming a member of the “Patriot” militia movement. She burned her driver's license and birth certificate and held the that United States government was illegitimate. She declared herself a “Natural Person” and not subject to the laws and jurisdiction of the United States.

          By 1992 the Block's marriage had hit the skids. The couple had separated and was in the midst of a bitter divorce centering on money. Lynda was also having an affair with George Sibley, who had also embraced the extreme views of the “Patriot” movement. Lynda considered that she and George were married, despite having a per-existing husband, because the government had no authority to commit marriages. All this came to a head when Lynda and George confronted Block at his apartment and Block ended up with a stab wound in his chest.

           Karl Block survived but police were called and Lynda Block and George Sibley were arrested on domestic charges. Because the charges were domestic in nature the couple couldn't bail out until they appeared before a judge and were held five days in jail before that happened. Prosecutor's offered them a plea deal of six months probation . They rejected it. Lynda and George fired their Court appointed attorney and demanded a trial where they acted as their own lawyers, arguing that the Judge should be disqualified because he was sending secret hand signals to the court reporter to omit testimony. They were found guilty of assault and battery but were allowed to remain free on bail while awaiting sentencing.

           Lynda and George were growing more paranoid. They were convinced that the police wanted to force an armed confrontation. Given the couple's erratic behavior and statements they were placed under “routine surveillance by the State's felony squad. Despite such watchfulness, Lynda Block and George Sibley managed to pack up their car with household goods and weapons before slipping away unnoticed with Lynda's nine-year-old son. Their absence was discovered when officers knocked on the door to serve them with a legal document.

           Lynda, George and nine-year-old Gordon stayed with friends in Georgia for three weeks before crossing into Alabama when on October 4, 1993 they made the fateful decision to stop at WalMart in Opelika so Lynda could make a telephone call.

           As Lynda went to use the pay phone near the store, she left George and her son in the red Mustang with the “A Woman Raped Is A Woman Without A Gun” bumper sticker. A customer, Romona Robertson, became concerned that this was a homeless family living in the WalMart parking lot and approached Officer Roger Motley and asked him if he would check on the situation.

           By all accounts, except Lynda Block's, Roger Motley was a good guy. He would send his wife flowers “just because” and the week before he had given his bulletproof vest to a rookie officer, leaving him the only officer in Opelika without such equipment.

           Officer Motley did his duty and approached the red Mustang. He asked George Sibley and asked to see the man's driver's license. George Sibley told the officer he didn't need one and as he was explaining why this was so Officer Sibley placed his hand on his service revolver. Sibley reacted by pulling out a gun.

           Officer Motley took cover behind his police cruiser and exchanged shots with Sibley who was crouched behind the front bumper of the Mustang. As Officer Motley was engaged in a gun battle with George Sibley in the crowded WalMart parking lot as Lynda Block rushed up behind him firing the 9mm Glock she always kept on her person. Officer Motley was shot several times but managed to radio the call for help before putting the cruiser in gear, hitting a parked car. Officer Roger Motley died later that afternoon. He was thirty-nine years old.

           Sibley and Block fled with Gordon in the Red Mustang but were cut off by a police barricade between Okelika and Auburn. During tense, four-hour negotiations, Lynda said at one point, “Let's not have another Waco happen here,” to which the Negotiator responded, “What's Waco.”

           At their trial Lynda was appointed lawyers for their defense. She was not impressed with these representatives, contending they “refused to even consider the Constitutional issues I knew were crucial to my case. She fired them and acted as her own lawyer, arguing self-defense, claiming Officer Motley drew first, and that the indictment was invalid “based on the original 13th Amendment. She argued that Alabama had not legally been a State since the Civil War. She was found guilty and sentenced to die.

           Lynda Lyons Block rejected all appeals, along with the validity of Alabama's judicial system, but still managed to stay alive with the assistance of a court-appointed attorney that she struggled furiously against. She was initially jailed at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women at Wetumpka, Alabama where she decorated her cell with pictures of Abraham Lincoln and anti-government quotations.

           On April 15, 2002 Lynda Lyon Block was transferred from Julia Tutwiler Prison to the Holman Prison to await her execution scheduled on the 19th. A television station attempted to interview her on Death Row but Prison Commissioner Mike Haley refused to grant access. The station sued on First Amendment grounds but despite the fact that Commissioner Mike Haley had issued a memo asserting that he didn't want “to publicize this heinous crime and in so doing bring any recognition to Ms. Block,” Judge Joe Price found that, “The denial is based on security and control reasons and not content-related."

            On Friday, April 18, 2002 Lynda Lyon Block reportedly declined a last meal and a final statement. She did meet with her spiritual adviser, Sally Michaud, a former Chaplin at the Julia Tutwiler Prison. Her head was shaved and she was dressed in prison whites and her face covered with a black veil. At a little after midnight, April 19, Lynda Block was led from her cell on Death Row and taken to the execution chamber. Reportedly she was expressionless except for, “very wide eyes and a defiant look on her face.” She stared at Commissioner Haley, “like she was trying to stare a hole straight through him.”

           Steam rose from the wet sponges attached to the electrodes affixed to Linda Block and her body tensed and her fists clenched as first 2,5000 volts of electricity surged for twenty seconds followed by 250 volts for another 100 seconds surged through her. At 12:10 a.m. Lynda Lyon Block was pronounced dead.

           Lynda Lyon Block was buried in the Holman Prison Cemetery. George Sibley was executed by lethal injection at Holman Prison on August 4, 2005. They both outlived Karl Block, who died at the age of 87 in 2000.

Lyon Block

                             Lynda Lyon Block

Alabama

                    Alabama's "Yellow Mama"

 

 

 

 

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