Kemmler was the first person in the world to be legally executed using an electric chair. He murdered his common-law wife Matilda 'Tillie' Ziegler with a hatchet on 29 March 1889. Current of 1.000 volts was passed through Kemmler for 17 seconds and he was declared dead by Dr. Edward Charles Spitzka. Witnesses noticed Kemmler was still breathing so attending physicians Dr. Spitzka and Dr. Charles F. Macdonald came forward to examine Kemmler. After confirming he was still alive Spitzka called out "Have the current turned on again, quick — no delay." In the second attempt Kemmler was shocked with 2.000 volts. Blood vessels under the skin ruptured and bled and some witnesses erroneously claimed his body caught fire. The New York Times reported instead that "an awful odor began to permeate the death chamber, and then, as though to cap the climax of this fearful sight, it was seen that the hair under and around the electrode on the head and the flesh under and around the electrode at the base of the spine was singeing. The stench was unbearable." (6 August 1890)
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