Jason Massey, 27, 2001-04-03, Texas
Convicted murderer Jason Massey apologized profusely, revealed where he disposed the missing body parts of one of his victims and then prayerfully went to his death today for the murders of 2 siblings almost 8 years ago.
Massey, in a lengthy final statement, addressed relatives of his murder victims and his own relatives in seeking forgiveness for the double murders.
"I can't imagine what I've taken from you," he said looking at relatives of Christina Benjamin, 13, and her stepbrother, James King, 14.
"I want you to know I did do it. I'm sorry for what I have done," Massey said.
Massey was sent to death row for fatally shooting the teen-agers, whose bodies were found in a rural area of Ellis County 3 days after they
disappeared from their home in Garrett, about 30 miles southeast of Dallas.
Besides being shot, the girl's hands and head were severed. The body parts never have been found. There also was evidence of sexual mutilation.
"I want you to know that Christina did not suffer as much as you think she did," Massey continued while strapped to the death chamber gurney.
"I know you guys want to know where the rest of her remains are. I put her remains in the Trinity River."
Prosecutors speculated that the missing body parts were thrown in the
river and were washed downstream but were never found.
Massey turned to his parents and a grandmother watching from another window nearby and also apologized to them, saying, "All of this pain has brought us closer together and all of this suffering that we have been through has brought us closer to the Lord and in the end that is what counts."
He expressed love and recited a Biblical verse, then gasped slightly as the lethal drugs began taking effect. He was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m. CDT, 8 minutes after the drug flow began.
"He fancied himself a serial killer par excellence," Clay Strange, the prosecutor who convinced a jury to send the then 20-year-old to death row in 1994, said. "He wanted to be the greatest ever."
Massey worshipped infamous killers Bundy and Manson and Henry Lee Lucas, whom he later shared shared time with on Texas' death row, and sought the attention they received.
"I would have gotten better," he once warned.
It was that attitude, backed by evidence at his trial, that prompted an Ellis County jury to take only 15 minutes before deciding Massey should be put to death.
"It's impossible to assign a motive to a case like this," added Strange, now an assistant district attorney in Austin. "I think he did it because it was pleasurable to him."
Evidence showed Massey knew King and Benjamin, whom he flirted with, and arranged to pick her up in his car if she would sneak out of her house the early morning hours of July 27, 1993. He also told a friend in explicit language what he would like to do the girl. When she and her stepbrother subsequently were reported missing and their remains were found, the friend talked with police.
At Massey's trial, testimony showed the former roofer loved to kill and mutilate and kept journals he called "Slayer's Book of Death." There were at least four volumes of the journal, discovered by a hunter who found them inside a cooler hidden in bushes in a rural area. Also inside the cooler were the heads of 31 dogs and cats, said Strange, noting that Massey kept statistics on how many people he would have to kill each month to reach 1,000.
"It was just playing with numbers and it all centered around killing, generally killing people," Strange said. "But by far, his favorite targets were 11- to 13-year-old girls.
"It's almost a miracle we caught him as quickly in his career as we did," he added. "He's as evil as anybody I've ever encountered. I've met a lot
of people meaner, but no one more evil."
"I've changed, and people do change," Massey told the Ennis Daily News last month from death row. "As we grow, we change... I have a lot of
anger about the stupid mistakes I made and at the same time I recognize anger is just an emotion."
James King, whose son and stepdaughter were killed by Massey, said he was
glad authorities nabbed Massey when they did and that would-be serial killer didn't have the chance to act more on his fantasies.
"He's the devil," King told The Dallas Morning News. "He would have been worse than Ted Bundy... It's a shame he started with kids."
Massey's execution was the 1st of 2 scheduled for this month. David Lee Goff, 32, is set for lethal injection April 25 for a 1990 robbery-slaying in Fort Worth.
Massey becomes the 6th condemned inmate to be put to death this year inTexas and the 245th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on Dec. 7, 1982.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Jason Massey had big dreams of becoming one of the most infamous serial killers in U.S. history. He kept diaries where he laid out his detailed plans for torturing and killing, pored over police magazines and kept an old-fashioned soda cooler stocked with the skulls of animals he had murdered as he prepared to move on to humans.
But Massey wouldn't get very far. The 27-year-old Texas death row inmate would kill only two Ellis County teens before he was arrested, smiling, and eventually sentenced to die by lethal injection.
Massey is set to be executed tonight for the July 27, 1993, murder of James Brian King, 14, and his 13-year-old stepsister, Christina Benjamin. King was shot twice in the head and his body dumped off a bridge, while only part of Benjamin's nude body was found in some nearby woods.
The U.S. Supreme Court in mid-March declined to hear an appeal filed on Massey's behalf. If carried out, his execution will mark the 6th in Texas this year.
"The thing that jumps out in my mind most of all was the brutality of the crime," said Joe F. Grubbs, the Ellis County District Attorney who prosecuted Massey. "(Christina Benjamin) was eviscerated - just carved
on. There were these very long, delicate, intricate carvings. Her genitals had been carved on, her trunk had been eviscerated. Her head had been removed in chopping motions."
Benjamin's head and her hands have never been found. While police reports did not specifically list how Benjamin was murdered, DNA testing revealed a genetic match between Benjamin's blood and blood found on a hammer belonging to the former roofer.
Benjamin's blood also was found on Massey's car seat and on some duct tape found in the car. Carpet fibers from Massey's car matched fiber found on one of King's shoes. Police have speculated that before she was
murdered, Benjamin was handcuffed and forced to watch as Massey shot her stepbrother.
Grubbs said while the brutality of the crime was disturbing, also disturbing were Massey's detailed plans for becoming a full-blown serial killer.
While searching for Benjamin's severed body parts, a police officer found a cooler containing animal skulls and jaw bones, as well as 4 of 5 existing journals labeled, "Slayer's Book of Death," and "the thoughts of
"The 2nd thing that's so incredible about this case is that Mr. Jason
Massey wrote 5 volumes of a journal ... in which he expressed his thoughts, his ambitions, that his purpose in life was to be the greatest known killer in history."
In one Oct. 7, 1992, entry, Massey wrote, "My goal is (to murder) 700 people in 20 years."
Massey claimed to have been a killer since he was 9, when he murdered a cat. In one journal entry dated Jan. 31, 1993, he wrote that he had killed 41 cats, 32 dogs and 7 cows.
Massey wrote often about wanting to perform gruesome sexual tortures on many women, some of whom he specifically named. He wrote that "rape is not enough," and that he must kill the women so he could have "bones to talk with, burial sites to remember, towns in fear."
"My lust for murder grows like an oak," he wrote in one entry, while in another he wrote, "Summer of '95 is going to be hell on the women of Northeast Texas. One day into the future, people will say 'I knew Jason.'
People will be astonished by the sheer numbers that are dead. The media, films - I will have it all."
Massey had plans of venturing to Texas cities including Palestine, Athens and Hillsboro, where he wanted to hang around dance classes, bars, roller skating rinks and beauty shops, looking for prey.
"I see myself on highways, riding alone in the rain, sipping coffee, waiting for the right town, place and person," he wrote on Dec. 29, 1992.
"No place is untouchable."
According to police reports, Benjamin had planned to meet Massey late one
night. He showed up at the girl's house late one night and both Benjamin and King left with him.
"She was probably a little apprehensive (about going alone) so she asked her brother to go with her," Grubbs said. "It got him killed too. It was a grossly tragic situation."
The following morning, James King and his common-law wife, Donna Benjamin, discovered the children missing. The teens' bodies were found 2 days later.
One of Massey's friends, Christopher Nowlin, told police that several days before the murder, the two had seen Benjamin and later, Massey spoke in sexually explicit language about what he would do to the girl,
including killing her and cutting her up.
Several former friends and acquaintances testified at Massey's trial that the young man often talked about killing. One former classmate spoke about threatening phone calls and letters she received from him, including letters describing dreams of killing her.
Grubbs said Massey emulated noted serial killer Ted Bundy. Bundy was thought to be an attractive, determined man who nevertheless had an
appetite for sexually torturing and brutally murdering dozens of attractive young women.
"(Jason Massey) is just the most frightening man because with his polite manner and reasonably good looks, if you saw your young person with him you'd say, 'That's a nice person,'" Grubbs said. "He is the most dangerous person because he doesn't look like he would be dangerous until you look at (his journals) and see into his mind."
Grubbs said the victims' family look forward to Massey's execution as a form of closure.
"We very much would like to have it come to an end," he said.
Massey declined all media requests for interviews.
(source: Associated Press)
Sebastian Bridges, 37, 2001-04-21, Nevada
Defiant to the end, Sebastian Bridges shouted, "I killed nobody, I didn't kill anybody," in a last-minute, emotional outburst before he was executed by lethal execution Saturday at the Nevada State Prison.
Some of Bridges comments could be heard from behind blinds that blocked witnesses' view into the execution chamber, where he was brought at 8:50 p.m. and strapped to a table. The 37-year-old South African national was pronounced dead at 9:18 p.m., minutes after a combination of 3 drugs, 2 of them lethal, flowed into his body through a needle in his arm.
He was executed for murdering Hunter Blatchford, 27, in the Las Vegas desert in 1997. Blatchford had been romantically involved with Bridges' estranged wife, Laurie.
Bridges was granted an unusual last request by Department of Prisons Director Jackie Crawford: He was escorted into the execution chamber wearing a suit and tie instead of the usual new prison blue jeans and denim shirt.
Crawford said Bridges' last words were: "You have no justification to kill me. It's just wrong. It's just wrong."
Crawford said she honored Bridges' request to have his minister, who was not identified, with him as he died. Allowing the minister to be present was a change from past prison policy, but it is done in other states, she said. It was the first execution under Crawford's direction.
"It was the man's last request, and therefore we did (allow it)," she said.
Crawford said Bridges' anxiety level was high as last-minute efforts were made to get him to halt his execution.
"He never changed his mind," she said. "He said, `Absolutely not,' he did not want an appeal."
The victim's father, Walt Blatchford, flew in from Tennessee to watch Bridges die. Blatchford said the execution was a step toward closure, but
Bridges' death would not bring his son back.
"I was impressed when Sebastian went in. He was very stoic," Blatchford said. "Apparently he was prepared to go out gracefully. The last-minute pleas, attempts to get him to change his mind, obviously upset him, and I think it cheated him of the opportunity to go out in the style he wished to go."
Blatchford said he was not surprised when Bridges looked right at him through the witness window and said, "This is murder."
"I had the opportunity to observe him during a portion of the trial, and there is a somewhat twisted man there," he said. "I didn't take any of that seriously. I couldn't take it personally."
The last-minute efforts to stop the execution delayed the process twice, while Assistant Federal Public Defender Michael Pescetta conversed with
Pescetta would not talk about his conversations with Bridges as the inmate, his long hair tied in a ponytail, was strapped down awaiting the lethal drugs.
"He died protesting his innocence and the process that brought him there," Pescetta said.
Only a handful of protesters opposing the execution braved a chilly night to make their opinions known. About two dozen people held a candlelight vigil outside the prison gates.
Nancy Hart, a representative of Amnesty International and the Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty, called the execution a violation of Bridges' fundamental human rights.
"No other industrialized Western nation uses the death penalty," she said. "It's barbaric and it should be abolished."
Bridges was taken to the "last-night cell" across from the execution chamber at 12:15 p.m. Saturday. He ate his last meal at 4 p.m.
Bridges spent his last hours visiting with his minister and Pescetta, who had sought to persuade him to appeal his case.
It was the 9th execution in Nevada since the legislature in 1977
reinstated the death penalty. All but one have involved inmates who waived their appeals. There are now 85 men and 1 woman on death row in Nevada.
Bridges had declined to appeal his death sentences through the courts.
Pescetta said Bridges would have had a strong case on appeal involving his Sixth Amendment right to legal representation. Bridges had $56,000 in his possession when he was arrested but was not allowed to use the money to hire a defense lawyer at trial, Pescetta said. Bridges was appointed a public defender, but he ultimately represented himself and was sentenced to death by a jury.
Pescetta said Bridges believed the courts should have reversed his conviction without his pursuit of an appeal. No attempt was made to seek a pardon because Bridges did not want to spend the rest of his life in prison, the attorney said.
"A pardon or commutation would not do it for him," Pescetta said Thursday. "His position is, either reverse my conviction or kill me."
Bridges' execution came as capital punishment became a hotly contested topic in the 2egislature. The Senate Judiciary Committee on April 10 amended a bill that would have abolished the death penalty to instead establish a 2-year moratorium on executions while lawmakers study the fairness of the punishment.
Gov. Kenny Guinn said the legislature's consideration of a moratorium would cause him to evaluate whether to let the Bridges execution proceed. But in a heated debate in the Senate on Tuesday, the moratorium and study measure, Senate Bill 254, was amended to exclude inmates such as Bridges who do not appeal their executions.
Following the change to the bill, Guinn said he would not intervene to
halt Bridges' execution.
The bill passed the Senate on a 13-8 vote Wednesday and is expected to receive favorable consideration in the Assembly.
Bridges becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Nevada.
(sources: Las Vegas Review-Journal & Rick Halperin)
Mose Young, 2001-04-25, Missouri
Mose Young, who gunned down 3 people in a pawn shop that wouldn't make a deal, was executed by injection early today at Potosi Correctional Center.
He was pronounced dead at 12:14 a.m. Young lost his final bid for mercy Tuesday night when Gov. Bob Holden rejected his request for clemency and a commutation of the sentence to life in prison. A federal appeals court had rejected Mose's final legal appeal on Monday, leaving the clemency request his last hope.
Shortly before Holden announced his decision, Young said by telephone from the prison, "It's getting kind of shaky, but I understand what I'm facing."
Young's bid for clemency restated what he had pleaded in a lengthy series of court appeals -- that his original defense lawyer did a miserable job.
On Feb. 8, 1983, Young walked into a former location of Lee's Pawn Shop, at 5934 Natural Bridge Avenue, with a rifle after employees at both Lee's shops refused to lend him $1,800 for a stickpin.
He murdered Kent Bicknese, 22, of west St. Louis County, who was on a sales call for his brother's billboard company; James Schneider, 33, of Edwardsville, a co-owner of the shop; and Sol Marks, 80, of Creve Coeur, a part-time employee.
Ronnell "Rock" Bennett, another co-owner, escaped to the basement. Bennett, now deceased, had known Young at Vashon High School and identified him.
Young testified during his trial in 1984 and insisted that a man nicknamed "Mickey" had fired the shots.
Evelyn Bicknese, 66, of West County, the mother of Kent Bicknese, and three other relatives witnessed the execution.
Young spent part of Tuesday with two Roman Catholic nuns and had a last meal. The nuns also attended the execution. Young glanced their way, said something to them and smiled before he died.
Young was within 7 hours of execution on July 11 when the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stopped the countdown. The court ordered a hearing on the claim that Jane Geiler, a former assistant prosecutor in St. Louis, had been prevented by then-Circuit Attorney Dee Joyce-Hayes from reporting her memory of Young's trial in the clemency appeal.
A follow-up hearing went against Young. In 1984, Geiler was a supervisor to public defender John M. "Jack" Walsh, who represented Young. Walsh was disbarred in 1988 for his handling of another death penalty trial.
Young becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death in Missouri this year and the 49th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1989.
(sources: St. Louis Post-Dispatch & Rick Halperin)
David Lee Goff, 32, 2001-04-25, Texas
A man convicted of killing a drug counselor in 1990 while on parole for the robbery and attempted murder of 2 other people was executed by injection Wednesday.
David Lee Goff, 32, insisted he was innocent of the death of Michael McGuire, 34.
"I want to give all the praise to God and glory and thank Him for all that He done for me," Goff said. "With this, let all debts be paid that I owed real or imagined. The slate is wiped clean, all marks erased. Other than that there is no justice. That's not justice."
The U.S. Supreme Court denied 2 appeals by Goff's attorneys Wednesday afternoon.
Goff said he wasn't present when McGuire, who worked and lived at the Star House rehabilitation center in Fort Worth, was abducted and fatally shot Sept. 1, 1990. McGuire's decomposing body was found by some children several days later in a wooded area about 6 miles away.
Goff was on parole after serving less than 5 years of a 15-year term for two counts of attempted capital murder. Those crimes occurred on consecutive days in August 1984 when he was 15. Prosecutors had him certified to be tried as an adult.
Those victims, who had been shot, survived and testified against him at the punishment phase of his trial for McGuire's murder.
"He was a poster child with his criminal history," said Richard Alpert, an assistant district attorney who prosecuted Goff. "He was just a scary individual."
Another man, Craig Ford, was arrested and charged with capital murder in the McGuire slaying but charges were dropped and Ford testified against Goff. Alpert said while Ford was present when McGuire was killed, he did not participate in the slaying.
Goff had complained about what he said was the incompetence of his court-appointed lawyers, who argued unsuccessfully to jurors there was little evidence and no motive to connect their client to the crime.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
David F. Dawson, 46, 2001-04-26, Delaware
David F. Dawson was put to death early today for the 1986 murder of a Kenton woman.
Dawson, 46, was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 12:05 a.m. at Delaware Correctional Center.
He spent his last hours sleeping, eating, reading, writing letters, talking to Department of Correction staff and visiting with his family and friends and his spiritual adviser and attorney.
On April 17, Dawson admitted to stabbing Madeline M. Kisner to death after he and 3 other inmates escaped from DCC in December 1986.
The confession came during an unsuccessful commutation bid before the Board of Pardons and followed 14 years of denials and appeals.
Dawson separated from his fellow escapees and entered Mrs. Kisner's
Kenton-area home, where he bound and gagged the 44-year-old bookkeeper before stabbing her 12 times in the chest and neck.
Then asked during the pardons hearing why he killed Mrs. Kisner, Dawson blamed drugs and alcohol.
Using Mrs. Kisner's car to flee, he spent that night drinking in 2 Milford-area bars.
He was captured the next day near Lincoln after falling asleep in another stolen car.
The other escapees - Mark McCoy, Richard Irwin and Larry Nave - were later arrested in St. George, Utah, and were not involved in murdering
The jury hearing the case in June 1988 spent three hours deliberating before finding Dawson guilty of 1st-degree murder.
The 8 men and 4 women then took an hour and a half to unanimously recommend a death sentence.
Calling Dawson a "depraved character," Superior Court Judge Henry du Pont Ridgely followed that recommendation and originally sentenced him to die later that year.
That date and 3 others -in 1993, 1994 and March -were postponed through a series of appeals.
When Dawson and the 3 other inmates broke out of prison in 1986, he had 6 years left to serve on a 12-year sentence for theft and other charges.
The escape from DCC was not Dawson's 1st.
He escaped 3 times from a maximum security juvenile facility before 1973.
In July 1975, Dawson fled through a fence at the pretrial annex building near Prices Corner.
In February 1983, he walked away from the Plummer Center in Wilmington, turning a one-day furlough into a 4-month excursion.
In his hearing with the Board of Pardons last week, Dawson said he had gone to school in Milford and Harrington.
During the hearing, Deputy Attorney General John Williams said Dawson had an "extensive" criminal record.
Mr. Williams said Dawson was jailed for burglary at age 11. He was committed to Ferris School at 13 in 1968, his 1st of 5 trips to the school.
Before he was an adult, Dawson was charged with 3 escapes and 2 attempted
His adult record, according to Mr. Williams, included 14 felony convictions and adult escapes.
There are 15 men on death row in Delaware. Dawson becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Delaware and the 12th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1992.
(sources: Newszap & Rick Halperin)
Marilyn Kay Plantz, 2001-05-01, Oklahoma
Almost 13 years after Jim Plantz was beaten and burned to death in a murder-for-insurance-money scheme, his wife - Marilyn Kay Plantz - died by lethal injection Tuesday night for her part in the slaying.
Marilyn Plantz was pronounced dead at 9:11 p.m. after being injected with a poisonous mix of drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Her death sentence came after her plot to kill her husband and collect a $300,000 life insurance policy unraveled in August 1988.
Jim Plantz, a press supervisor for The Oklahoman, was ambushed by William Clifford Bryson and Clinton Eugene McKimble as he came home from work. Marilyn Plantz recruited the pair to carry out the killing.
They waited for him inside his Midwest City home and attacked him with his son's baseball bats. During the attack, he cried out "Marilyn!" to no avail. She was in another room, waiting for the assault to end.
"For the past 13 years, she's been able to live, breathe and hope," Clovis Plantz, the victim's brother, said Tuesday afternoon. "His last hope was when he was being beaten, when he called out to her for help."
After the beating, Bryson and McKimble took Jim Plantz and his pickup to a rural road in eastern Oklahoma County, put him inside the truck and set it on fire. They tried to make the killing look like a traffic accident.
Evidence showed that Jim Plantz was still alive when the fire started. He tried to get out of the pickup, but quickly succumbed to the flames and smoke.
Marilyn Plantz stayed at the house and tried to clean blood stains from her carpet.
Relatives said they initially believed the accident story she concocted. They offered to help her, even after her arrest.
"That's how unbelieving we were," said Karen Lowery, Jim Plantz's sister. "We even tried to get a lawyer for her. Then the detectives started telling us what they found.
"She hid it well. She acted like she always had."
The investigation and trial changed their minds.
"The day they picked her up ... and when they started finding things out about her, that's when she died as far as I'm concerned," said Earl Plantz, her former father-in-law.
Marilyn Plantz and Bryson were convicted of 1st-degree murder and sentenced to die. Bryson was executed June 15.
The 3rd co-defendant, McKimble, testified against the other 2 in exchange for a life sentence.
Jim Plantz's insurance policy eventually was awarded to his 2 children, Trina Plantz Wells and Chris Plantz.
Hanging over the execution were continuing questions over Joyce Gilchrist, the Oklahoma City crime lab manager who is being investigated by the FBI amid allegations that she misidentified evidence and gave improper testimony.
Gilchrist testified at Plantz's trial, but her testimony was limited and had little impact on the case, Attorney General Drew Edmondson said.
Her death ends a long vigil for Jim Plantz's family. 12 family members
and 3 other supporters were scheduled to witness the execution.
Forgiveness, Lowery said, is unlikely.
Earl Plantz agrees, but he does have lingering questions.
He said that Marilyn Plantz was readily accepted by the family when she married his son and that his son's death was like "a stab in the back." He still is puzzled how a seemingly healthy marriage ended so violently.
"All I want to know is why."
Plantz becomes the 11th condemned inmate, and the 2nd female, to be put to death this yearin Oklahoma, and the 41st overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.
(sources: The Oklahoman & Rick Halperin)
Clay King Smith, 30, 2001-05-08, Arkansas
The state executed a murderer Tuesday who said he wouldn't appeal his sentence because it would bring more torment to the families of his 5 victims.
Clay King Smith, 30, died for the 1998 killings of his ex-girlfriend, her cousin and three children at Pine Bluff.
"I'd like to say I'm sorry about what I did to the victims' families," Smith said before his death. "I hope your hearts can heal. I love my family. I love my family."
Smith had written to the families telling them he would not challenge his
death sentence if it would cause them more pain. With their permission, he said, he would have fought for his life. Word from the families never came.
Smith had not filed any appeals with the federal court and did not ask Gov. Mike Huckabee for clemency. He could have stopped his execution until the last minute. Federal judges have previously granted automatic stays to inmates who have not filed federal court challenges.
Brenda Bratton, the mother of one of the victims, told the Pine Bluff Commercial newspaper that Smith had written to her and said, "something woke him up and told him to kill."
Smith was convicted of killing Misty Erwin, 20, in her Pine Bluff home, along with her cousin, Shelly Sorg, 24 and Sorg's children, Sean Michael, 5, and Taylor, 3. Samantha Rhodes, 12, a family friend, was also slain.
Smith becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Arkansas and the 24th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Terrance Anthony James, 41, 2001-05-22, Oklahoma
A man was executed by injection Tuesday for killing a fellow inmate he allegedly blamed for his arrest.
Terrance Anthony James, 41, was convicted in the 1983 death of Mark Allen
"Corkey" Berry. James had been serving a 5-year sentence after pleading guilty to theft, but he and another inmate, Dennis Earl Brown, blamed Berry, 25, for their arrests, prosecutors said.
Berry was killed while he and Brown played cards. James approached Berry from behind, wrapped a wire around his neck and strangled him, prosecutors said.
Brown held Berry's feet and put his hand over Berry's mouth. James, Brown and Samuel Raymond Van Woudenberg, another inmate, then hanged Berry in a shower stall, prosecutors said. Van Woudenberg is on death row, but his sentence is being reviewed. Brown pleaded guilty 2nd-degree murder and received 35 years in prison for testifying against James and Van Woudenberg, prosecutors said.
James becomes the 12th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma, and the 42nd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.
James becomes the 30th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
the USA, and the 713th overall since America resumed executions on
January 17, 1977.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Samuel D. Smith, 2001-05-23, Missouri
After taking an extra day to review Samuel D. Smith's case 1 last time, the state of Missouri on Wednesday executed the twice-convicted murderer for killing another inmate during a prison knife fight.
Smith died at 9:07 p.m., 3 minutes after the 1st of 3 drugs were administered at the Potosi Correctional Center, said Department of Corrections spokesman Tim Kniest.
His death followed a day of deliberation by the Missouri Supreme Court after a last-minute appeal that prompted the court to grant a stay at 1 a.m. Wednesday. The appeal argued that prosecutors suppressed important evidence during trial.
14 hours later, the state's highest court turned down the appeal, clearing the way for his execution.
Smith was sentenced to death for killing fellow inmate Marlin May during a knife fight in 1987. The last-minute appeal concerned a videotaped statement from another inmate, James Miller, who witnessed the knife fight. Smith's attorney, Kevin Locke, argued the trial prosecutor failed
to make the defense aware of Miller's statement.
Miller claimed that while Smith stabbed May, he did it before guards tried to pull May to safety. That was contrary to other testimony.
In papers filed Wednesday, Locke argued that the distinction was important and asked for a new trial.
A guard, George Adams, had testified that Smith made one final "bone crunching" stab wound to May's chest as Adams was trying to pull May to safety. Locke said the trial jury considered that final blow crucial in determining that Smith deliberately tried to kill May -- deliberation being a key factor in the death penalty.
"The testimony of Miller may well have exculpated Smith, either of his guilt or his punishment," Locke wrote.
Attorney General Jay Nixon disagreed. He argued in papers filed Wednesday that Miller's testimony would simply call to question when the fatal wound was inflicted.
"Even assuming that the jury would have accepted Miller's version of events over that of Adams's, that does not negate (Smith's) guilt," Nixon wrote.
Gov. Bob Holden declined to intervene in the case Tuesday, and stood by that decision, spokesman Jerry Nachtigal said.
Smith wasn't initially involved in the fight that would lead to May's death on Jan. 5, 1987. May, 24, and several other inmates in Housing Unit 5 at the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City attacked inmate Demetrius Herndon.
When Smith tried to intervene, Smith and May began fighting and couldn't be separated by guards until both were sprayed with pepper mace.
May died at the scene from 19 stab wounds to the head, chest, back and arm.
Smith was serving 2 concurrent 12-year sentences for 2nd-degree murder and 1st-degree burglary, along with a consecutive 2-year term for escape prior to conviction.
His victim, May, was at the prison following 1982 convictions on second-degree robbery, 1st-degree burglary, 2nd-degree burglary and stealing over $150.
Aritha Payne, May's mother, has urged the state to halt the execution.
"I think her voice is more important than mine," Smith told The Associated Press Tuesday. "If anyone is allowed to speak about this, it should be her."
Locke has also argued that Smith's original counsel, David Kite, was trying his 1st criminal case and made several mistakes during trial, costing Smith a lesser sentence.
Smith becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Missouri and the 50th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1989. Only Texas (246), Virginia (82) and Florida (51) have carried out more executions.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Abdullah T. Hameen, 37, 2001-05-25, Delaware
A career criminal convicted of killing a man during a drug deal 10 years ago was executed by injection early Friday after a judge rejected his long-shot appeal.
Abdullah T. Hameen, 37, received the injection at the Delaware Correctional Center just after midnight as punishment for the murder of Troy Hodges in 1991.
Hameen's execution came after several appeals were filed Thursday by his attorneys and supporters seeking to have his death sentence commuted to
life in prison. The appeals were rejected by the state superior and supreme courts.
"It was a long shot," defense attorney John Malik said.
Hameen's supporters argued that he had become a model inmate and mentor to other prisoners and at-risk youngsters.
But prosecutors and some members of the state Board of Pardons were troubled by his long and violent criminal career, during which he killed 2 men and shot and seriously wounded 2 others.
Some also doubted that his conversion from hardened criminal to peace-loving activist was genuine, noting prison writings in which he blasted the criminal justice system as racist and oppressive.
Hameem becomes the 13th condemned inmate to be put to death in Delaware
since the state resumed capital punishment in 1992.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Vincent Allen Johnson, 42, 2005-05-29, Oklahoma
Oklahoma executed a man who murdered a woman in a hail of gunfire and at the request of her common-law husband and a friend.
Vincent Allen Johnson, a 42-year-old former oil field worker, said in a taped confession he was expecting payment of $100,000 for killing Shirley
Before the injection, Johnson was asked if he had anything to say. He
looked at the ceiling and said: "No sir, I don't."
Authorities said Johnson, firing from guns held in each hand, shot Mooneyham 6 times. Her estranged common-law husband, Ted Holt, was acquited on murder charges. The friend, John Crain, was never brought to trial.
During Johnson's trial he maintained his innocence, but authorities produced 3 earlier confessions, including one that was on audiotape.
Johnson becomes the 13th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma and the 43rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.
Johnson becomes the 33rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 716th overall since America resumed executions on January
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Timothy McVeigh, 33, 2001-06-11, Indiana (Federal)
Remaining silent and showing no emotion, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was executed Monday morning.
McVeigh died by lethal injection at 7:14 a.m. (8:14 a.m. EDT) at the Federal Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.
McVeigh was executed for the April 19, 1995, attack in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people and wounded hundreds more. The bombing was the deadliest terrorism act ever on U.S. soil.
McVeigh's death was the first federal execution since 1963.
The 33-year-old Gulf War veteran did not say a word in the final minutes before his execution. Media witnesses said McVeigh lifted his head and looked at them and then looked at the ceiling. He died with his eyes open.
McVeigh left a handwritten statement quoting Invictus, a 19th century poem by British poet William Ernest Henley. It ends with the lines "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul."
McVeigh's body was removed immediately after his execution in a government van, Justice Department officials said. They would not give any information about its destination.
McVeigh's body is to be cremated, but his lawyers said information about his remains and any resting place would remain privileged.
'Just a big relief,' witness says
Ten people -- members of the victims' families and survivors of the bombing -- also witnessed the execution from a room beside the death chamber.
Paul Howell, whose daughter was killed in the bombing, said McVeigh was expressionless.
"What I was hoping for is that we could see some kind of 'I'm sorry,' but we didn't get anything like that. My emotions were that it was just a big relief. Just a big sigh came over my body and it felt real good," Howell said.
More than 650 miles away in Oklahoma City, 232 survivors and family members watched on closed-circuit television.
"He actually lifted his head and looked directly in the camera, and it was as if he was looking directly at us," said Larry Whicher, who lost his brother. "His eyes were unblinking. They appeared to be coal black. I truly believe that his eyes were telling me ... that if he could, he would do it all over again."
Bush: 'Not vengeance, but justice'
U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft met with victims' families in Oklahoma City for about a half-hour before the execution. Ashcroft spokeswoman Mindy Tucker said he wanted to be in Oklahoma City to "thank them for their guidance through this process, to thank them from their patience and to again express sorrow for their loss." He did not stay for the closed-circuit viewing.
About a half-hour after the execution, President Bush said that McVeigh had "met the fate he chose for himself six years ago.
"The victims of the Oklahoma City bombing have been given not vengeance, but justice," the president said.
McVeigh's attorneys, who had sought a new sentencing hearing after the FBI revealed last month it had withheld thousands of pages of documents during the trial, decried the execution and said it would not end the pain.
"If killing McVeigh does not bring peace or closure to them, I suggest to you that it is our fault," said Robert Nigh, who witnessed his client's death with colleague Nathan Chambers. "We have made killing a part of the healing process."
Execution draws international criticism
Following the execution, a steady stream of visitors could be seen at the Oklahoma City National Memorial Center. Some family members could be seen praying and hugging each other in front of the 168 chairs representing the victims of the attack.
Fewer people than expected turned out for protests supporting and opposing the execution. About 75 anti-death penalty protesters had participated in a two-mile march from St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church to the prison on Sunday.
The execution has drawn international criticism. The president of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly called it "sad, pathetic and wrong.
"It demonstrated the futility of capital punishment to act as a deterrent, giving him the notoriety he sought in committing this horrendous crime," Lord Russel-Johnson said in a statement. "It is high time the United States rethought its attitude to the death penalty and aligned its position with the great majority of the free and democratic world."
Jay D. Scott, 48, 2001-05-14, Ohio
A convicted killer whose life was twice spared by a court just minutes before he was to be put to death was executed Thursday for the 1993 murder of a delicatessen owner.
Jay D. Scott, 48, died by lethal injection just after 9 p.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility at Lucasville.
It was his third execution date in two months. Courts ordered delays on April 17 and May 15 over questions about his competence.
By the time the scheduled May 15 execution was delayed, the execution team had already placed into Scott's arms the shunts that would carry the drugs to kill him.
Scott's lawyers had pleaded with the courts to spare his life a third time because he is schizophrenic, arguing that killing a mentally ill person is cruel and unusual.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday refused Scott's appeals. His lawyers had also argued that the two canceled executions were cruel and unusual.
Only Gov. Bob Taft could have stopped Scott's execution Thursday.
Scott's lawyer had pleaded with the governor for clemency, but Taft had said Wednesday he would not grant it because Scott's lawyers had presented no new evidence since he rejected similar requests in April and May.
Scott was convicted of killing Cleveland delicatessen owner Vinney Prince, 70, who was shot in the chest after she prepared food for Scott and an accomplice.
Scott killed a security guard the next day at a Cleveland restaurant and was sentenced to death a second time, but that sentence was overturned
because it was found that a juror knew of his first sentence.
Scott becomes the 1st Ohio condemned inmate to be put to death this year, and the 2nd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1999.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
John Wheat, 57, 2001-06-13, Texas
A former church custodian was executed Wednesday evening for a shooting rampage 6 years ago in Fort Worth where 3 children were killed and 4 other people wounded.
John Wheat was convicted of killing 20-month-old Lacey Anderson in a spree that also claimed the lives of her 2 older siblings, Eddie Ochoa, 8, and Ashley Ochoa, 6. All 3, all shot in the head, were found in their mother's apartment after Wheat surrendered to police closing in on him. Angie Anderson, their mother, was injured.
Wheat was pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m., 8 minutes after the lethal dose of drugs began.
"I deeply regret what happened," he said. "I did not intentionally or knowingly harm anyone. I did not do anything deliberately. That's it."
Then Wheat uttered a word in Vietnamese, "didimau," which prison officials translated as meaning, "Let's get out of here."
He coughed twice, sputtered and gasped before he stopped moving.
Wheat lived at the same apartment complex where Anderson and her children lived and he occasionally babysat them.
5 friends and relatives of Wheat watched him die and 1 remarked in the chamber following his death that the 3 children now had someone to care for them in heaven.
Angie Anderson's aunt, Cynthia Bolin, said "That's a bunch of bull."
Wheat becomes the 8th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas, and the 247th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Juan Raul Garza, 44, 2001-6-19, US
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — With an apology for ``the pain and grief that I have caused,'' convicted murderer and drug kingpin Juan Raul Garza was executed Tuesday, eight days after Timothy McVeigh became the first federal inmate put to death since 1963.
Garza died at 7:09 a.m. by chemical injection, strapped to the same gurney where McVeigh was executed last week.
He nervously flexed his feet as Warden Harley Lappin tied the curtains back on the witness rooms. As the chemicals entered his veins, he kept his head cocked to the left, toward the room assigned to his own witnesses. His eyes slowly closed half way and his lips turned a light blue.
He went to his death calmly and, unlike McVeigh, with remorse. ``I just want to say that I'm sorry, and I apologize for all the pain and grief that I have caused,'' he said. ``I ask your forgiveness and God bless.''
As Garza was being executed, about 50 anti-death penalty activists outside the U.S. Penitentiary sang ``We Shall Overcome'' and other protest songs.
The scene was in stark contrast to the buzz of media activity that met McVeigh's final days. Dan Dunne, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman, said only about 75 reporters had registered for credentials to cover Garza's death. More than 1,000 reporters had credentials for the McVeigh execution.
Garza, 44, was convicted of murdering a man by shooting him five times in the head and neck and ordering the deaths of two other men. It was all part of Garza's marijuana smuggling operation, which federal prosecutors say he ran ruthlessly.
He was the first person to be executed under the 1988 federal Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which imposes a death sentence for murders stemming from a drug enterprise.
Despite lingering questions about the racial and geographic equality of the federal death penalty, President Bush and the U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to delay Garza's execution.
The court rejected claims that the jury should have been told that the alternative to a death sentence was life in prison with no possibility of release, and that Garza's death sentence would violate two international treaties.
Following the two Supreme Court rulings, Bush turned down a clemency request by Garza, a U.S.-born Mexican-American convicted in Bush's home state of Texas in 1993.
Garza attorney Gregory Wiercioch said an upcoming report on the death penalty from Attorney General John Ashcroft would someday be placed on the shelves next to the Dred Scott decision and Plessy v. Ferguson, ``as a shameful attempt to justify the unjustifiable.''
``Some day this precise savagery will end, but not today,'' Wiercioch said. ``Today President Bush had the last word. But he will not have the final say on the death penalty. History will.''
Death penalty opponents and some former Justice Department officials wondered whether Garza would have been sentenced to death if he were white or had committed his crimes elsewhere.
Six of the 19 men now on federal death row were sentenced in Texas; 17, including all six from Texas, are minorities.
``There is a question of whether the way the system is set up produces arbitrary and discriminatory results,'' said Robert Litt, a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Clinton Justice Department.
A Justice Department study released last year found wide racial and geographical disparities in the use of the federal death penalty. Because of that study, then-President Clinton delayed Garza's December execution date, saying, ``In this area, there is no room for error.''
A Justice Department review released earlier this month found no evidence of bias in federal death penalty sentences. Ashcroft ordered further study but said Monday there was no evidence of racial bias in Garza's death sentence and no reason to delay his execution any further.
The original Justice Department study found that 80 percent of federal defendants charged with capital offenses over a five-year period were minorities. The study also found that just nine of the 94 U.S. attorney districts accounted for about 43 percent of all cases in which prosecutors sought the death penalty.
Garza's attorneys cited 26 cases involving crimes similar to Garza's where prosecutors did not seek the federal death penalty.
Garza spent Monday resting, reading, watching television and visiting with his attorneys, said Jim Cross, executive assistant at the prison. Garza also met with the warden, who explained what the inmate could expect in the coming hours.
His final requested meal consisted of steak, french fries, onion rings, diet cola and three slices of bread.
Early Tuesday, death penalty opponents arrived together on a bus with a police escort. Some carried signs, some began praying. One man sat by himself in a field about 600 yards from the prison and lit a candle.
Dwight Conquergood of Chicago said, ``It's a personal outrage. I'm appalled and aghast. Judicial killing is theater. It's planned, it's staged and it's deliberate.''
Miguel "Silky" Richardson, 46, 2001-06-26, Texas
A man was executed by injection Tuesday for fatally shooting one of two hotel security guards slain at a San Antonio hotel in 1979.
Miguel "Silky" Richardson, 46, was the ninth condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas, where a record 40 convicted killers were executed last year. "I feel so much love," Richardson said as witnesses filed into the chamber.
In Indiana, a man convicted of killing a couple during a
home robbery was scheduled to be executed early Wednesday. Richardson was in a room at a San Antonio hotel with three prostitutes when he was confronted by the security guards responding to a complaint.
As Richardson was being escorted to the lobby, the two unarmed guards, John Ebbert and Howard Powers, were robbed and shot to death. Richardson was arrested a few days later in Denver during another robbery.
The prostitutes testified against him at trial, one of them describing how he made the guards beg for their lives.
James Lowery, 54, 2001-06-27, Indiana
Murderer visited with attorneys and spiritual adviser after final court refusals. Jim Lowery, 54, formerly of Crawfordsville, was pronounced dead at 12:29 a.m. CDT/EST, becoming the 3rd person to be executed in Indiana in 16 days.
His last hopes for a reprieve dashed by federal judges Tuesday, Lowery spent his last hours visiting soberly with his attorneys and his spiritual adviser while awaiting the executioner.
Both the U.S. Supreme Court and the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
declined to intervene on Lowery's behalf Tuesday afternoon.
Gov. Frank O'Bannon already had refused to commute his death sentence to one of life in prison.
Despite that, one of his attorneys said, Lowery was spending his last few hours thinking of others, not of himself.
"He's clearly more concerned about the impact of his death on other people," said Monica Foster, who has represented Lowery for 16 years.
Indiana State Prison spokesman Barry Nothstine said the condemned man appeared somber but composed as the hour of his death approached.
"The attorney general's office tells me there's nothing more (Lowery) can do," Nothstine said.
A series of 3 drugs were to flow into Lowery shortly after midnight, and he was to become the 3rd person executed on Indiana soil in 16 days.
Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and drug kingpin Juan Raul Garza
were put to death by federal authorities in Terre Haute earlier this month, using the same method.
"Indiana has become the killing field, hasn't it?" Foster said.
Other death penalty opponents said they are appalled by the numbers.
John Krull, executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, warned against allowing the Hoosier state to become "the Texas of the North."
"We're killing people as fast as Burger King makes hamburgers," Krull said after a sparsely attended noontime gathering in the Statehouse.
"It's an embarrassment," said the Rev. Jackie Means, an Episcopal priest who directs the church's prison ministries. "We can no longer continue to act as God."
Means planned to lead an 8 p.m. service at St. Andrew's Church in
Michigan City before heading to the prison with a group of protesters.
Lowery was convicted of the 1979 murders of Mark and Gertrude Thompson, who both were 82 years old at the time. He shot the couple in their Tippecanoe County home during a robbery. He had been fired from his job as their caregiver a few months before.
Lowery also shot another person in the home, Janet Brown, their new caregiver. But Brown survived.
In his five-page denial of the inmate's request for clemency, O'Bannon noted that Lowery had benefited from the work of skilled attorneys and had been convicted and sentenced to death in 2 separate trials. The 1st verdict was overturned on procedural grounds.
"24 jurors and 23 judges have found the death penalty appropriate in this case," O'Bannon wrote. "The process was fair, and I defer to the findings of the courts."
But death penalty opponents decried the governor's refusal to commute the death sentence, especially in light of the horrific abuse Lowery is said to have suffered during his youth. The 54-year-old Lowery told Parole Board members earlier this month that he had been raped repeatedly by state employees at a state-run mental institution.
Supporters also cite his exemplary record while in prison. Charlie Kafoure of the Indiana Coalition to Abolish Capital Punishment noted Lowery's "heroic" role as a peacemaker during 22 years on death row.
But others told the Parole Board that the life of cruelty and crime
Lowery led outside prison walls couldn't have been turned around inside.
His own stepdaughter, Heather Rice, said he used to press a gun to her head and pull the trigger when she was a child. The goal: intimidation.
"Let this man finally be brought to justice," she said at the time.
The board unanimously recommended against clemency.
Lowery had told prison officials he didn't want anyone witnessing his death except his spiritual adviser. But Tuesday he relented and invited
both Foster and co-counsel Brent Westerfeld to watch, as well.
He declined his ceremonial last meal, receiving standard prison fare instead, Nothstine said.
"I think he would tell you that he views his death as a private thing," Foster said. "He really doesn't like the whole circus atmosphere."
Lowery becomes the 1st condemned (state) inmate to be put to death in Indiana this year, and the 13th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1981.
Lowery becomes the 39th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 722nd overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.
(sources: Indianapolis Star & Rick Halperin)
Jerome Mallett, 42, 2001-07-11, Missouri
A 42-year-old Missouri man was executed by injection early Wednesday for killing a state trooper during a traffic stop in 1985.
Jerome Mallett had claimed he shot James Froemsdorf, a 9-year veteran of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, in self-defense after the patrolman allegedly hit him and pulled a gun on him on an Interstate 55 roadside in Perry County.
But in a videotaped statement made after his arrest, Mallett said he shot Froemsdorf, 35, during a struggle for the gun.
Mallett said mistakes by his attorney, Kenny Hulshof, caused him to receive the death penalty. Hulshof, who went on to become a prosecutor and is now a Republican congressman, did not return calls for comment.
In his original appeals, Mallett's attorneys argued their client, a black
man, didn't receive a fair trial because it was moved to Schuyler County, which has few black residents, and thus led to an all-white jury. Mallett was black.
The appeal also claimed Circuit Judge E. Richard Webber was biased because he sent a plaque in honor of the victim to the highway patrol and a letter of condolence to the patrolman's widow.
Based on those issues, a circuit judge vacated Mallett's murder conviction and sentence. The state Supreme Court later reinstated both and the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal of that decision, although 3 justices dissented.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
James Wilkens Jr, 2001-07-11, Texas
Apologizing profusely and repeatedly asking forgiveness, convicted killer James Wilkens Jr. was put to death today for a shooting spree that claimed the lives of his ex-girlfriend's 4-year-old son and her new boyfriend almost 15 years ago in Tyler.
"I am sorry. Please hear me. Please understand. In the name of God, please forgive me," he said, looking at Sandra Williams, the mother of the 4-year-old killed in the rampage. Only Williams, shot in the back, survived.
"Find peace and comfort. I am sorry. For your sake, forgive me, all of you," he said, looking at Williams and the child's two grandfathers, who also witnessed the execution.'
Then he turned to several friends who also were witnesses and expressed love to them and thanked them for "giving me more than I deserve."
Then Wilkens prayed, asking God to forgive "the horror I have committed."
After telling the warden he was ready to go and urging that "God be with all of you,'" he exhaled once, gasped a couple of times and slipped into unconsciousness as the drugs took effect. He was pronounced dead at 6:23 p.m. CST.
Wilkens was already on parole after serving 14 months of a 5-year sentence for robbery when he was arrested a day after the child, Larry McMillan Jr., was shot repeatedly as he cried on a couch. Also killed in the rampage 2 days after Christmas 1986 was Richard Wood, 28.
Wood was dating Wilkens' former girlfriend. According to testimony at his
trial, Wilkens broke into Wood's empty trailer home and waited until Wood and Williams and the child returned from an out-of-town holiday trip.
All 3 were shot when the apparently jealous and enraged Wilkens opened fire with a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle. Only Williams, shot in the
back, survived. Wood was shot in the head. The child was shot 13 times.
"The 1st thing that goes through my mind is the picture of Larry McMillan Jr. sitting on the couch with a toothbrush in his mouth with several bullet holes in him that Wilkens had fired at point-blank range," Smith County District Attorney Jack Skeen said. "I can still see him slumped over with the bullet holes in him. A 4-year-old boy. It was just horrible."
Wilkens pleaded innocent, contending he was insane at the time of the attack.
"There was no question about his competency," Skeen said. "It was just a
"He was sitting there and waiting. He just ambushed them. It was like: bang! bang! He just waited and executed."
"In all honesty, as God as my witness, I do not remember," Wilkens, who
declined to speak with reporters in the weeks leading up to his execution, said in a 1992 death row interview. "I went nuts, to tell you the truth. I remember some, not all. It's very bizarre. I had killed them so many times in my mind, it was a dream. I didn't know reality."
A Smith County jury in 1988 convicted Wilkens of capital murder and decided he should be put to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, however, reversed the conviction and sentence in 1992, saying psychological testimony improperly was admitted during the punishment phase of the trial.
He was tried a 2nd time the following year, telling a jury he heard voices and envisioned Wood as his abusive father. The 2nd jury wasn't swayed, convicting him and also deciding he should be executed.
"My son didn't get a 2nd chance," Williams, now Sandra Carpenter, said this week.
Carpenter, who testified against Wilkens at each trial, had to have a section of her intestine removed because of her injuries. She said she also continues to suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
"It doesn't let you forget," she said. "I wish it did.
"I hate him for it."
The U.S. Supreme Court 2 weeks ago refused to review Wilkens' case and federal appeals courts rejected late requests seeking to halt the execution.
Next on the injection list is Richard Kutzner, set to die July 25 for strangling a Montgomery County real estate agent during a robbery in
1996. It's 1 of 2 death sentences given to Kutzner, who also was convicted and condemned for a similar robbery and murder in Harris County 2 weeks earlier.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Jerald Wayne Harjo, 40, 2001-07-17, Oklahoma
A man who strangled a Sasakwa grandmother and smothered her with her pillow 13 years ago paid for the crime with his life Tuesday night.
Jerald Wayne Harjo, 40, died at 9:10 p.m. in Oklahoma's death chamber.
Harjo's feet knocked together under the white sheet draped across his body. His eyelids fluttered when he closed them, after telling the warden, "Uh, no," when asked if he had any last words.
Harjo took one deep breath after the lethal drugs began to flow, then snored as the air left his lungs. He was pronounced dead just 2 minutes after the execution began.
Harjo was the 14th person executed this year and the 44th since the state resumed the death penalty in 1976.
Harjo climbed into 64-year-old Ruth Porter's spare bedroom window to look for keys to her van on the stormy night of Jan. 16, 1988. He murdered her in her bed, took the keys and drove to his brother's house in Wewoka.
Porter's daughter found her the next morning with a pillow over her face. Her windpipe was crushed, her face was scratched and bruised and her pubic hair was singed with a lighter. Investigators believe the Sasakwa elementary school secretary was raped.
Her daughter, Mary Branscum, and 7 other relatives watched as lethal drugs pumped into Harjo's veins Tuesday night. The 1st one rendered him unconscious, a 2nd stopped his breathing and the last -- potassium chloride -- arrested his heart.
Harjo asked his family not to attend the execution.
"As Christians, we are not here for revenge but to see justice served for Ruth Harris Porter," a statement from Porter's family read. "We know that this execution does not make up for what happened to our mother, aunt and grandmother. But Jerald Harjo made his choice and this is the price he must pay."
Porter's daughter said she hasn't been able to forget the final image of her mother, her nightgown pulled up to her neck and a pillow on her face.
Branscum watched Harjo's execution in part for her father, who died in 1993 and asked her to see the process to the end. Her father was in a Memphis, Tenn., hospital when his wife was murdered because he had been paralyzed in an auto accident years earlier.
"Never in his wildest dreams did he believe he would outlive her,"
Branscum wrote recently in a letter to the state attorney general's office. "My father did not have the same light in his eyes and joy in his heart after his wife was murdered."
In Oklahoma City, 8 death penalty protesters were arrested outside a branch of the attorney general's office Tuesday, about 4 hours before Harjo's execution.
The protesters -- 6 men and 2 women -- surrendered peaceably to police officers as they approached the building from a parking lot. They were handcuffed and booked on complaints of trespassing.
Rex Friend, Oklahoma City attorney and protest leader, said they would be released on $85 bond.
Friend issued a statement as he and 19 other protesters stood outside an office complex in northeast Oklahoma City where employees of Attorney General Drew Edmondson work.
The attorney said the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals had split 3-2 on whether the crime for which Harjo was convicted met the standard of being
"especially heinous, atrocious and cruel."
Harjo had been smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol the night he decided to ride his bicycle to his brother's house in Wewoka, former Seminole County Sheriff Charles Sisco said. A thunderstorm made him ditch the bicycle just north of Sasakwa, next to Porter's rural frame house.
Harjo tried to hot-wire the woman's van, but couldn't.
Investigators believe he climbed through a window by stacking cement blocks outside one of Porter's windows.
A Wewoka police officer who knew Harjo was on a suspended sentence for
stealing a car drove by Harjo's brother's home on a hunch and found the woman's van.
Harjo eventually confessed to the crime on audiotape after investigators found his muddy tennis shoe prints on Porter's floor, Sisco said.
The jury that recommended the death sentence heard the tape and testimony from a trooper who said he saw Harjo riding down the highway on a bicycle.
(source: The Oklahoman)
Mack Oran Hill, 47, 2001-08-08, Texas
A body shop worker went to his death proclaiming his innocence today in the killing of a business associate 14 years ago in Lubbock.
Mack Oran Hill was executed 4 days before his 48th birthday and 2 months after his execution was stopped by an 11th-hour court reprieve. Strapped to the Texas death chamber gurney, Hill expressed love to his family and proclaimed his innocence.
"I'll be waiting for everybody," he said, nodding toward five relatives, including his parents. "I'm fine. I'm innocent and I know Lubbock County officials obviously believe I'm guilty, but I'm not."
He mentioned by name the former Lubbock County district attorney, Travis Ware, who prosecuted him, adding that Ware "has the burden on him to prove."
Hill was pronounced dead at 6:22 p.m., 8 minutes after the lethal dose began.
His relatives sobbed loudly as he gasped and sputtered and turned deep purple as the lethal drugs took effect.
On June 6, Hill was eating what was intended to be his last meal when he received word the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had halted his punishment to review his appeal. When the court later rejected the appeal, his execution was reset for Wednesday.
"It's really a strange experience," Hill said recently, describing his June visit to the death house at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit. "I had thought it was too late to get my hopes up.
"This 2nd time is a lot rougher. I feel like my head's on a chopping block with a sword hanging over it."
Hill insisted he was not responsible for fatally shooting Donald Johnson, 43, taking the victim's money and truck, then stuffing the Lubbock man's
body in a 55-gallon drum and dumping it in a lake.
At the time, Hill was on parole for aggravated robbery in Tarrant County after serving less than four years of a 12-year sentence.
Hill and his attorneys contended in their appeals the prosecutor in his case, Travis Ware, the former Lubbock County district attorney, made secret deals with witnesses to help win the conviction.
"There's nothing to this," Ware said this week. "There was no deal."
In August 1987, a fisherman on Montague County's Amon Carter Lake, some 200 miles east of Lubbock, spotted the drum and called authorities.
Inside the container, weighted with concrete, was a mummified body wrapped in carpets and blankets and tied with neckties.
Johnson, wearing a T-shirt that advertised his paint and body shop, was identified as the victim.
Hill was arrested and charged with the slaying. He had been driving Johnson's truck and living in Johnson's travel trailer.
"If I ever had a scintilla of doubt, I would never have prosecuted him and sought the death penalty," Ware said. "Mack Hill is a cold-blooded murderer."
An acquaintance, Herbert Elliot, testified he saw Hill shoot Johnson March 3, 1987, at the Lubbock body shop where Johnson lived, use a knife and hammer-like kitchen tool to open wounds to drain Johnson's body of its blood, then wrap it in the carpet and blankets.
The next day, Elliot said Hill stuffed the body into the drum and he and
Hill drove to the lake where they backed Johnson's truck to the water and rolled the drum into the lake.
Elliot received a 20-year prison term and is now free. Hill, who contends Elliot was the killer, was condemned.
"I was across town in bed -- sick," Hill said of the slaying. "I wasn't
Besides his robbery conviction, court records showed Hill had been involved in some illegal drug transactions and credit card fraud. He also was implicated, but never charged, in a similar murder in 1978.
Hill's ex-wife testified her former husband fatally shot her stepfather,
then wrapped his body in blankets and dropped the remains into a dry well in Montague County. Elliot testified Hill admitted to the slaying.
Another witness testified how Hill took him to the lake and pointed out the barrel to him. When a declining lake level exposed the end of the barrel, the witness said Hill used a metal pole to push the container into deeper water.
sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
Jeffery Doughtie, 39, 2001-08-16, Texas
Convicted killer Jeffery Doughtie was executed Thursday for using a metal pipe to fatally beat an elderly couple at their Corpus Christi antique shop after they refused to give him money to support his $400-a-day drug habit.
"For about 9 years, I've thought about the death penalty, if it's right or wrong. I don't have the answer. But I don't think this world is a safer place without me in it," Doughtie said while strapped to the gurney in the death chamber.
He said the punishment should have been carried out much sooner.
"Killing me now ain't hurting me. It gave me time to say goodbye to my family," he said.
"It started with a needle and it's ending with a needle," he said with one needle inserted in his right hand and the other in his left arm.
He looked toward friends watching from the other side of a window, expressed love and thanked them.
"I will be with you. I will be with you every time you take a shower. If you leave crying, you don't do me justice. If you don't see peace in my eyes, you don't see me."
He winced, said "It's burning," then took a long breath, a slight gasp and exhaled as the lethal drugs began to flow. He was pronounced dead 10 minutes later at 6:32 p.m.
Doughtie's execution attracted none of the attention that 24 hours earlier accompanied the scheduled punishment for another Texas death row inmate, Napoleon Beazley.
Doughtie was the 12th inmate put to death this year in Texas, where a record 40 executions were carried out last year.
"I'm responsible," Doughtie said during a recent death row interview about the killings of Jerry Dean, 80, and his wife, Sylvia, 76. "I've lived a
full life. I have few regrets. If they let me out, I'd probably get stoned again.
"An old dog like me, I had 100,000 chances to get it right. The death penalty was made for a person like me."
(source: Associated Press)
Clifton Allen White, 43, 2001-08-24, North Carolina
Clifton Allen White, strapped onto a gurney with an intravenous line running into each arm, stared at the ceiling and appeared to say a prayer at 2 a.m.
Within 2 minutes, White, covered up to his neck in a blue sheet lay motionless. His eyes were closed beneath his glasses as one chemical put
him to sleep and another relaxed his muscles.
Then after about 20 minutes, Warden Robey Lee walked into the small room silent except for a ticking wall clock. 8 people, including White's wife
and sister, gathered inside the witness chamber at Raleigh's Central Prison to watch him die.
"The orders of the court have been carried out," Lee said.
White, 43, of Charlotte, was pronounced dead at 2:23 a.m. 12 years after he tied up 28-year-old Kimberly Ewing and slashed her throat with a paring knife at her home.
Before White died, he looked to his left and told his wife, Barbara White, that he loved her. He said the same to his sister, Teresa Hunt.
Both women were seated a few feet away, separated by a double-paned window.
"I'm going home," Clifton White said.
Stephanie Ewing, the victim's daughter, was 7 when her mother was killed. She held the hands of her cousin, Christopher Cook, and her aunt, Kyle Cook, as she watched the man who killed her mother put to death. She showed little emotion, but nodded to assure relatives she was okay.
As prison officials prepared to take White's body to a Raleigh hospital, relatives of the killer and of the victim spoke out. Kyle Cook said White should have been put to death sooner and that his death was far more humane than her sister's.
"The penalty has been carried out, but this is by no means justice," Cook said. "He went to sleep. Kim suffered a violent death. His family had over 12 years to say goodbye to him. We were robbed of that luxury."
White was the 18th person executed in North Carolina since the state reinstated capital punishment in 1977. He was the second person put to death this year. John Noland, executed in 1998, was the last Charlotte person put to death. Ronald Frye of Hickory is scheduled to be executed Aug. 31.
After the execution, White's Durham attorney, Jonathan Broun read a statement from his client. In the statement, White apologized to Ewing's family.
"I want to once again tell Stephanie Ewing and her family that even with my last breath, I am sorry for the pain that I have caused their family," he wrote. "I hope that their family can find in their hearts forgiveness for me one day."
White's attorney said the convicted killer was under the influence of cocaine and alcohol at the time of the murder. Broun also said nothing was gained by putting White to death.
A jury found White guilty of 1st-degree murder in 1990 and a judge sentenced him to die. The N.C. Supreme Court overturned the conviction, citing errors in the admission of evidence. White was convicted in the 1994 retrial and again sentenced to death. He had been on death row since Feb 1994, prison officials said.
Last week White's attorneys filed a clemency petition with Gov. Mike Easley's office. Late Thursday, the plea was denied. Defense attorneys also filed three separate appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday,
last minute efforts to halt the execution. White's attorneys challenged the constitutionality of state laws that do not give prosecutors the option of seeking a sentence of life without parole. They also argued that the murder indictment lacked elements of premeditation required in capital cases.
A third appeal challenged a decision earlier this month by the N.C. Supreme Court upholding Easley's right to hear clemency pleas because he prosecuted capital cases as N.C. attorney general.
Hours before the execution more than 100 people gathered outside the Raleigh prison. They held a candlelight vigil to protest the death penalty. Several held a long white banner that read:
"The death penalty makes us all murderers."
As the rain fell just after 3 a.m., the quiet protestors went home.
Relatives of the now dead killer hugged each other as they walked toward their cars. Barbara White of Charlotte, who wed Clifton White in a prison ceremony almost 11 years ago, said her husband was at peace.
"I hope this also brings closure to the victim's family," she said.
(source: Charlotte Observer)
Clifton White's Final Statements
The 1st item below is a written statement by Clifton White. The 2nd item is his final words while strapped to the gurney. The texts of both appear exactly as released by Central Prison (Raleigh, North Carolina).
By the time of this reading of my final statement I will be sitting at Jesus feet with my Mother and Father. All my life, I have believe that I would never be able to do anything that would make my family proud of me.
Tonight, I have paid my debt to society. If my death brings any peace and
closure to Kimberly Ewing's family then this will be a considered as a added bonus. I want to once again tell Stephanie Ewing and her family that even with my last breath, I am sorry for the pain that I have cause their family. I hope that their family can find in their hearts, forgiveness for me one day.
I want to tell my family how much I appreciate their support, and their love that they have shown me through the last 12 years. There are not enough words for how proud I am of my sister and all she has gone through in her efforts to make everyone understand how this could have happen. I have been blessed to have a sister who loves me no matter what. Teresa, I love you and the kids, take care of them and see you in heaven, I'll be the one by the gates smiling.
I want to thank Barbara, my wife. This woman married a man who had nothing to give her, she had nothing to gain. She has stood by me and loved me for 12 years, if that is not unconditional love nothing is. I love you, Barbara.
I want to Thank the warden, the staff and Chaplain Chestnut for making my last days the best they could be. They have shown me kindness and compassion that is rare to find in a prison these days.
To my friends & family on D-Block West, stay strong in your faith and remember I'm watching over all of you.
I want to thank John Johnson, a young man who became my pen pal in efforts to stop the death penalty. You are like family to me, so remember to keep up the fight, and I'll be watching over you.
I want to thank Johnathon Broun and the Center for Death Penalty for all of their hard work on my behalf. I love each and everyone of them, and will see them on the other side.
I also want to thank all the people who did not know me at all, who had never meet me, but worked endlessly to help change a system that is not working, there has to be a better way.
With All my love,
Clifton Allen White
I'd just like to say that I hope that God will find some way to let the VanDorns find forgiveness in their heart for me. That I'm very sorry for what happened.
I wish I could change it but I can't.
I'm sorry it happened. I'd like to thank everybody who has had anything to do with me the last couple of days, they've treated me very kindly, you've treated my family very kindly. I just hope everything goes alright.
I hope the Lord takes me home. Thank you Warden.
(source: People of Faith Against the Death Penalty)
James Homer Elledge, 58, 2001-08-28, Washington
James Elledge was executed early this morning at the Washington State Penitentiary.
Elledge becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death in Washington this year and the 4th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1993; he was the 2nd killed by lethal injection and the 3rd in recent years to welcome his execution. His course toward death was a speedy one, and Elledge, 58, hastened it at every opportunity.
James Homer Elledge went quietly to his execution early this morning, getting the sentence he pleaded for after murdering a woman in the
basement of a Lynnwood church.
Just after midnight, Elledge was strapped to a gurney, and prison
officials began administering a combination of four chemicals that would render him unconscious, then kill him. He declined a request for a sedative to calm him.
At 12:10 a.m., the Washington Attorney General's Office couldn't confirm that Elledge had been declared dead.
Elledge told a friend earlier that he had no intention of making a final statement. In his will, though, the man who strangled and stabbed Eloise Fitzner made it clear he believed he'd been forgiven for his crimes.
"I commit myself to God's care, secure in His love for me and trusting in the salvation purchased for me through the suffering and death of His Son, Jesus Christ," he wrote. "I leave those who survive me the comfort of knowing that I have died in this faith, and have now joined my Lord in eternal glory."
He pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, admitting he lured Fitzner, an acquaintance, to the church where he worked as a janitor. Since then, he has steadfastly maintained that he deserved to die. He instructed his lawyer to present no evidence in the penalty phase of his trial that might encourage jurors to spare his life.
Those close to him said he viewed his impending execution as a sort of redemption.
Others saw different religious overtones to the case. Fitzner's brother, Michael Helland, said yesterday he saw the murder as a "Good Samaritan"
killing, since his sister, like the biblical figure, had tried to help others down on their luck without regard to her own safety. And Jim Johnson, pastor of The Lighthouse, a Free Methodist church, compared the crime in the church that had befriended him to Judas' betrayal of Jesus.
Elledge, 58, met with his court-appointed defense attorney, Bill Jaquette, throughout the night. He also had frequent visits from prison chaplain Gil Alden.
At 4 p.m., prison guards moved him without incident to an execution holding cell to which was added only a pillow, a mattress, 2 sheets, 2 towels and 3 blankets.
He declined to eat his last supper. His final meal was at 6 a.m. Prison officials then gave him 2 hours -- an hour longer than normal -- of exercise time outside.
Lawyers were ready to file appeals at a moment's notice if he changed his mind, but he didn't give them the opportunity. The process went far more calmly than the state's last execution, of 27-year-old Jeremy Sagastegui in 1998. Sagastegui's mother had tried to intervene on his behalf, and his execution was on hold until early evening while last-minute appeals were debated.
Sagastegui raped and killed a child, then killed the child's mother and a family friend. The other men executed here, Westley Allan Dodd and Charles Campbell, were also triple-murderers who had killed at least one child.
Outside the century-old walls of the prison, sparse crowds showed up to either protest or praise Elledge's death.
About 100 protesters gathered for a candlelight vigil, culminating in 45 minutes of silent prayers and reflection.
"When it's over, we go home," said Kevin Glackin-Coley, director of the detention ministry for the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle.
"Tomorrow, we wake up and start trying to figure out a way that we don't have to come
back to Walla Walla for another execution."
He said opponents will probably ask the Legislature for a moratorium on executions to buy time to look at problems with Washington's death-penalty law.
By 11 p.m., only 4 people had showed up in an enclosure the size of a football field set aside for death-penalty supporters. Kelly Budau, a clerk at a Walla Walla Albertson's, said he watched the news about previous executions on television and decided to turn out this year.
"If they done a murder and that, they should die," he said.
Death penalty opponents said Elledge's desire to die pushed a more common murder case that wouldn't normally have resulted in execution over the edge. The jury heard nothing about his past except his long criminal history, and were never told potential mitigating information from his past, including that he appeared to have a history of mental illness and that he had saved a prison guard's life during a riot.
"This one is really, really disturbing to me because of who this individual is and what his background is. He's just not a person who qualifies or should be executed -- he did a bad thing, he belongs in prison, and I'm very sorry for the family (but) he is just not a death case," said Gonzaga University Law Professor Speedy Rice, who wrote the clemency petition.
On Friday, Catholic Archbishop Alex Brunett called on Gov. Gary Locke to reconsider his decision not to grant clemency. The request was met with
"Clemency is called for when there is some extraordinary circumstance that might require intervention or an act of grace from the governor ...," Locke's counsel, Everett Billingslea, said yesterday. "While we certainly are cognizant of the arguments about 'volunteers' and the problems that presents, particularly in this case, the governor doesn't believe those circumstances are present here."
Elledge had no doubts about the course he chose.
"I don't look at this as an execution, I look at it as a separation," he told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer earlier this year. "There's a dirty part of my soul, and I want it destroyed."
Helland, the victim's brother, planned to spend the evening with his mother and to wait up until he heard it was over. He had hoped Elledge's final words would be to say he was sorry for Fitzner's murder. At the trial, Elledge told jurors those words wouldn't bring Fitzner back.
"He had an opportunity to choose his words very carefully then, so I just don't think that was an oversight on his part," Helland said.
Prosecutors and some jurors said the brutality and pre-meditated nature of the crime, as well as a long criminal history, which included a 1974 murder, clearly justified both the decision to seek the death penalty and the verdict.
Jury forewoman M.L. DeMorett said in a recent letter that Elledge deserved to die for a cold, calculated murder.
"We looked for areas where the system may have failed him," she said of jury deliberations. "Comment was made that he had several chances in life to get beyond the past. He still lost control and killed another person, took another life."
The 2 detectives who investigated Fitzner's disappearance and found her body chose to attend the execution, as did the Snohomish County prosecutors who persuaded jurors to impose the death sentence.
Lynnwood police Detective Jim Nelson said he feels little sympathy for Elledge. "I feel a lot worse about her than I do about him. He knows what's coming, he's had a chance to make his peace with whatever he feels he needs to do. And he did this to himself. He committed his second
murder, he's been given chance after chance."
But at least 1 juror who voted for execution had reservations about his decision after hearing what Elledge would not allow to be presented at his trial: that he saved the life of a guard during a prison riot, that he may have suffered from mental illness and that he had a childhood so bleak that he asked to stay in reform school rather than be sent home.
"I could have seen it changing my mind," said Jon Sherrell, the juror, told the P-I earlier this year.
For opponents of the death penalty, Elledge's execution also underscored
a continuing flaw in capital punishment -- the volunteer. He was put to death a little more than 3 years after Fitzner's murder, which is practically light-speed for a justice system that can take years to decide questions of life and death.
For members of Lighthouse Methodist Church, the execution meant the death of one member for the murder of a 2nd. Church members who knew Elledge
gathered for a private service last night.
Elledge's own family did not attend the execution, and had honored his wishes that none of them intervene in the case.
"I said years ago that if he doesn't change his life, turn it around, he's going to end up dead. And like I say, it's sad and I hate it, but there's nothing I can do about it," a brother, Allen Elledge, said earlier this year.
The murder took place on April 18, 1998, when Elledge invited Fitzner and her friend to the church. He had presents waiting for them , he said, and would take them to dinner afterward. It was a trap.
Fitzner, 47, had infuriated Elledge the year before by sending a letter warning his girlfriend, who later became his wife, against Elledge, "that horrible man." Elledge's anger at Fitzner simmered for months, then blew up. He planned the murder, pre-cutting lengths of cord to bind the women; then strangled Fitzner in the church basement and stabbed her in the throat to make sure she was dead. Her friend, ordered to face a wall, heard Fitzner say "No, stop, I can't breathe," before a brief struggle.
Fitzner's body was discovered the next day, crammed in a church storage space, her hands clasped as if in prayer. Elledge turned himself into police after trying to kill himself twice, sounding bewildered at his own reasons for the murder and already determined not to fight his punishment.
Elledge spent most of his life behind bars, starting at age 10 when he was sent to a youth prison for breaking and entering.
He grew up in poverty and difficult times, court documents said, once asking to go back to reform school because he was starving at home. He went to prison in Santa Fe, N.M., for robbing a Western Union office, where he also kidnapped a female attendant. After his parole, he wound up in Seattle in 1974, where he killed Seattle motel manager Bertha Lush in an argument over his bill.
Elledge said one reason he wanted to die was because he was a Christian, and was remorseful for his sins. He believed God had forgiven him, he said in a prison interview last year.
(sources: Seattle Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Rick Halperin)
Jack Dale Walker, 2001-08-28, Oklahoma
Jack Dale Walker was executed by lethal injection Tuesday, almost 13 years after he stabbed his estranged girlfriend and her uncle to death.
Walker was pronounced dead at 9:09 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
Several members of the victims' families watched the execution, including some who witnessed the vicious attack by Walker at a mobile home in Bixby, a Tulsa suburb.
Shelly Ellison and Donald Epperson suffered deep wounds from a hunting knife wielded by Walker, 35, on Dec. 30, 1988.
Ellison, 17-year-old mother of Walker's 3-month-old son, suffered 32 stab
wounds. Epperson was stabbed 11 times.
During 20 minutes of terror that began about 8 a.m., Ellison broke free to dial 911. "I need help. He's stabbing me. I'm dead. Please," she told the dispatcher.
Children were yelling and a baby could be heard crying in the background.
Juanita Epperson, mother of Donald Epperson, also was severely stabbed, but survived.
At a clemency hearing, Walker apologized to the victims' family "for all the pain I've caused them and for this whole ordeal that has been tragic for a lot of people."
His plea for a life sentence was rejected after several family members gave eyewitness accounts of the vicious attack and said Walker had been violent in the past and would be a continuing threat.
Walker, the product of a broken home, had a history of drug and alcohol abuse. The week before his execution, he told a Tulsa World reporter that psychological treatment could have prevented the slayings.
Born in Claremore, he attended Bixby High School. Unlike many convicted murderers, Walker had no felony convictions, but was prone toward violence, according to Ellison's relatives.
He was only 22 when he went to the Bixby home to try to persuade his girlfriend to leave with him by threatening suicide.
But on a police tape immediately after his arrest, Walker said he went to the home with "the full intention of either taking the baby or murdering her or whoever got in the way."
Walker's son, now 13, wrote a letter to the clemency board in support of his father's execution.
"Sometimes I think about what life would be like if my mom were alive, but then I come to my senses and realize that was destroyed by one man, Jack Walker," wrote Joshua Ellison, who has been adopted by his maternal grandparents.
"I think Jack Walker should pay for what he did to my mother. I think he should die for taking my mom away from me."
Walker said he hopes his son will forgive him when he is older.
A Jehovah's Witness, he said he did not fear death, calling it merely unconsciousness. "God has forgiven me of my sins, not mankind," he said.
Walker becomes the 15 condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma, and the 45th overall since the state resumed capital punishment
(sources: The Oklahoman & Rick Halperin)