From our files: Last execution of county man was 1952

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 1, 2015

According to Department of Corrections archives dating back to 1927, there has only been one execution of a person from Covington County. State archives record him as Desmond Miles, but Star-News archives reported his name as Deasmon.

Local attorney Ab Powell recalled that his father, Abner Powell Jr., was one of the attorneys who represented Miles on appeal.

“I remember the night he was executed, his family all came to our house,” he said. “There were people standing around on the porch until the clock struck midnight, even though there wasn’t much chance that the governor would grant a stay.”

From the Oct. 9, 1952, edition of The Star-News:

Covington man to die in chair

Frantic, last-minute efforts by attorneys for Deasmon Miles, convicted of murdering a Georgia man near Rawls, have proved futile and the Babbie man will go to his death in the electric chair at Kilby Prison shortly after midnight Thursday, Oct. 11.

It will be the first death of a Covington County white man in the electric chair.

Ben Lightfoot, Luverne attorney, who with Allen Cook and Abner Powell Jr., Andalusia lawyers, served as counsel for Miles, said Gov. Gordon Persons had told him in Montgomery on Wednesday that no further stays of execution will be granted.

“Miles will die in the electric chair early Friday,” Lightfoot quoted the governor as saying.

Two 30-day delays in the execution of Miles were allowed by the governor awaiting a report on a sanity hearing. The report was received in Andalusia Monday that Miles had been declared sane. This finding was that Miles was sane at the time of the slaying and was sane now. It added that the convicted man was apparently feigning insanity when examined at Tuscaloosa.

Miles was found guilty of shooting Alton Hill of Roberta, Ga., on April 6, 1951, near Gantt Pond where the two men had come on a fishing trip. Miles worked for a Roberta, Ga., lumber company at the time. Hill lived in semi-retirement.

The body of Hill was found in a wooded thicket near the Rawls school house eight weeks after the shooting.

At the trial Miles pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and self-defense. Miles testified that he and Hill had engaged in an argument and that Hill had fired a pistol at him before he shot the Georgia man.

It took a Covington Circuit Court jury two and one-half hours to bring the verdict of death in the electric chair.