Mr Death : Fred A. Leuchter
Using film made at American prisons, Leuchter talked about his upbringing where his father was a corrections officer. Through his family associations, young Leuchter claimed he was able to witness an execution performed in an electric chair. Leuchter’s impression of the event was that the electric chairs used by American prisons were unsafe and often ineffective. The event led him to design modifications to the device that were adopted by many American states.
Leuchter claimed he was invited to other American prisons to inspect and design modifications to their electric chairs. Though not possessing any formal training or education in the matter Leuchter claims he was told that the individuals who did possess formal and accepted qualifications would not provide advice due to their opinions on the death penalty, fear of reprisals or that they were squeamish about the subject.
Leuchter’s career continued with other state prisons seeking his advice on execution facilities other than electrocution, such as gas chambers, hanging and lethal injection. Though initially professing his ignorance of other methods of execution, the authorities seeking his advice reminded him that others with more qualifications refused to help. Leuchter claimed to have taught himself on these other methods of execution and provided advice that was used by the authorities to improve safety and efficiency.
His fall began when Leuchter claimed to have been sought as a witness for the defence of Ernst Zündel on trial in Canada for publishing and sending material denying the Holocaust overseas. Leuchter was asked by the defence to travel to Poland to visit Auschwitz to investigate whether there had been operating gas chambers for executions at the camp.
At his first examination Leuchter felt that using poison gas in a building with the internal and external design of the buildings currently on display in the site would have caused the death of everyone in the area outside the buildings as well as inside. The film shows videotape footage taken in Poland of Leuchter taking samples of bricks in the buildings to take back to the United States forensic science crime labs to determine whether there was evidence of poison gas in the material. As per the usual procedure the samples were not identified as to where they came from. Leuchter stated the laboratories reported that there was not any trace of any poison gas at any time.
After his conclusions were scientifically disproven and publicity ensued, Leuchter lost his positions as consultant to American prisons.