Mitchell Rupe used to be on death row in the state of Washington, there for killing two bank tellers in 1981. But he was spared the hangman -- literally -- when a federal judge agreed that hanging Rupe would be cruel and unusual punishment.
Rupe weighed more than 400 pounds. He claimed that he would be decapitated by a hanging.
He died Tuesday in Walla Walla, inside a prison, at age 51. He had liver disease. The Washington Post reports that Rupe helped changed Washington law. Used to be, the hangman was the only way out. Now an inmate can choose between hanging and lethal injection.