Jerry B. Givens' last execution was on April 13, 1999, a month after he appeared before a federal grand jury and his life started falling apart.

He had been socializing with a childhood friend from Creighton Court, Sylvester Booker. Booker had been in prison for drugs, but Givens said he believed Booker had straightened out and was a legitimate businessman.

Givens said Booker asked him to buy vehicles for him in Givens' name so that Booker, who had a poor driving record, would not have to pay high insurance premiums. Booker gave Givens the cash to buy them.

Givens was called to testify before the grand jury on March 16, 1999, about dealings he had with Booker. He had conducted an execution a week earlier. A half dozen more were scheduled in the coming weeks and Givens had to prepare for them, too.

"When you got executions in front of you that you've got to prepare for, it might take you a week, three weeks to prepare . . . and it might take you four weeks to actually forget about it."

He said he was reluctant to tell the grand jury about his execution duties. "I didn't know anybody on that grand jury. I didn't feel comfortable." Nevertheless he said, "I broke down and told them that, and I got emotional then.

"I might have just said anything just to be talking. . . . I don't really recall what I told them," he said.

According to the evidence, Givens told the grand jury that he bought vehicles for Booker with money he won gambling in Atlantic City.

Booker testified that he had given Givens the cash to buy the vehicles, but Givens never knew about his drug dealing.

A jury later convicted Givens of one count of money laundering and three counts of perjury. He was sentenced on March 7, 2000, to serve 57 months.

Jeffrey L. Everhart, who represented Givens, said he still believes his client was innocent. "But the jury disagreed with us," he said. -- Frank Green

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