execution

Execution-style murder and execution-style killing are news media buzzwords applied to various acts of criminal murder where the perpetrator kills at close range a conscious victim who is under the complete physical control of the assailant and who has been left with no course of resistance or escape. One of the more notorious occurrences of an execution-style murder was the St. Valentine's Day massacre in Chicago in 1929 where a number of assailants posed as police officers. Color of authority however is not a defining component of the event, as the crimes of Stanley Williams and Dennis Rader also fall into this category. The terminology may derive from the process of binding the victim and killing them at close range while conscious. Some thrill killings have variously been described as execution-style murders.

The Columbine High School massacre included some execution-style murders in the library where the two killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, had shot (or executed) a large number of students after teasing and taunting them for their looks, race or beliefs.

The weapon involved is usually a handgun, though long guns, blunt instruments, and bladed weapons have also been used in killings labeled as execution style. The method is generally understood to presume such a degree of wanton, premeditated evil that any other crimes undertaken during the incident (e.g., robbery, kidnapping, rape) cannot even be considered as motives. In those jurisdictions which still maintain the option of capital punishment, execution-style killings usually qualify the offender for the death penalty.

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