Death Penalty and Death Row in USA

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Penalty in USA

Information about individuals executed July-December

    Tracy Alan Hansen, 2002-07-17, Mississippi

Tracy Alan Hansen was executed by lethal injection at 6:32 p.m. today in a room of Unit 17 at the State Penitentiary at Parchman.

Tracy Alan Hansen was on death row for 15 years, but it took only minutes to carry out his 6 p.m. execution Wednesday at the State Penitentiary.

State pathologist Steven Hayne pronounced Hansen dead at 6:32 p.m., prison officials said.

Hansen, the 1st inmate executed in the state since 1989, was put to death for the 1987 murder of state Trooper David Bruce Ladner, who had stopped the vehicle Hansen was driving on I-10 west of Gulfport.

Hansen and his girlfriend Anita Krecic were wanted in Florida at the time for a string of robberies stretching from Fort Lauderdale to Gainesville. Convicted of capital murder, Krecic is serving a life sentence at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Rankin County.

Prison officials said Hansen's execution was delayed by several minutes because the inmate gave a long speech rather than a few last words.
Officials finally removed Hansen's microphone and began the flow of lethal drugs via intravenous lines in each of his arms; Hansen died about nine minutes after that.

"I don't want to die. My life is being taken from me," witnesses to the execution quoted Hansen as saying. "... I'm sorry in my heart. Trooper Ladner was a good man. I didn't mean to kill him."

"I don't have the right to ask the family not to be angry," Hansen said as his microphone was removed. Witnesses said he then exhaled and closed his eyes.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m., the U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, refused to stay Mississippi's 1st execution in 13 years.

Ladner's 2 sons, Damon and Brandon, witnessed the execution. The slain trooper's brother, Kirk, also witnessed the execution. Herman Cox, the former Harrison County district attorney who prosecuted the case against Hansen, both witnessed the execution and spoke afterward on behalf of the Ladner family.

"Justice was carried out today," Cox said. "Tracy Hansen did not have to shoot twice."

From what he saw, Cox said, Hansen was not in pain when he died. "That is not true of Trooper Ladner," Cox said. "He was shot and died 36 hours later."

The Ladner family will continue to oppose Krecic's bids for parole, Cox said. "We hope God will have mercy on Tracy Hansen," he said.

No family member of Hansen, who said he was raised in a middle-class family near Orlando, witnessed him being put to death. Hansen did, however, speak by telephone to his father, Orlando resident Lawrence Hansen, several times Wednesday. Efforts to reach Hansen's family, including his father, were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Ladner family members arrived in a chartered bus at the penitentiary at 3:40 p.m. All told, there were 60 family members, friends and law enforcement supporters on the bus, Ladner family members said.

MDOC spokeswoman Jennifer Griffin said Hansen ate his last meal at about 4 p.m., Griffin said.

Hansen mailed 23 letters Wednesday morning, Griffin said. She said she did not know who the recipients are.

Hansen has requested the American Cremation Society of Memphis cremate his remains, but it's unknown what will happen with the ashes, Griffin said.

Hansen on Wednesday visited with the Rev. Fennena Clayson, a paralegal, and with attorneys Charles Press and Debra Sabah, Griffin said. Clayson and Sister Donna Gunn, who also visited Wednesday with Hansen, both witnessed the execution.

Death penalty protesters began arriving at the penitentiary at about 4:30 p.m. and were allowed to stand in a designated area outside the prison.

In Jackson, about 75 death penalty opponents sang "Amazing Grace" in front of the Governor's Mansion as the hour of Hansen's death approached. The group started praying and singing at Smith Park at 5 p.m. before walking to the mansion on Capitol Street.

"We just want to pray," said the Rev. Jerry Tobin, associate pastor of Christ the King Catholic Church in Jackson.

Nearby, James Smith of Canton carried a sign saying "Thou shalt not kill."

"It's just wrong to take a life," Smith said. "I don't believe in it. God gave life to us, and only He should take it away."

Hansen was allowed to place phone calls on Wednesday that were approved by the Department of Corrections. Those he called:

His father, Lawrence Hansen, from 9:35-10:31 a.m., 11:28-11:45 a.m.

Friend Rhea Abbott of Aberdeen, Wash., from 9:20-9:25 a.m., 11:46 a.m.-12:20 p.m. and 12:24-12:42 p.m.

Friend Karen Elsea of Silver Springs, Md., from 9:27-9:29 a.m., 11:45-11:46 a.m., and 12:45-12:47 p.m.

Hansen also tried to call his brother, Scott Hansen, but was unsuccessful, said Department of Corrections spokesman Ken Jones.

Since January 2001, Jones said Wednesday, Hansen had made regular phone calls to his father. Department of Corrections officials had earlier said Hansen has had no contact with family members.

Of those calls, Griffin said, 211 were incomplete, which means Hansen wasn't able to reach his father for one reason or another. Another 53 calls were "disconnected," or fairly short calls, and another 52 calls were "successful" and lasted the maximum 15 minutes allowed, Griffin said.

Hansen becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be executed in Mississippi since 1989, and the 5th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.

(sources: Clarion-Ledger and Rick Halperin)

    Randall Eugene Cannon, 42, 2002-07-23, Oklahoma

Randall Eugene Cannon was executed Tuesday for the 1985 slaying of an 84-year-old woman who was abducted from her Oklahoma City home, badly beaten and burned.

Cannon, 42, was pronounced dead at 6:05 p.m. after receiving a lethal combination of drugs.

The state's 3rd execution this year and its 134th in history came after Cannon's appeal for a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected.

Cannon was sentenced to die for the 1985 killing of Addie Hawley, who was abducted from her Oklahoma City home the night of June 24 and found hours later nude and incoherent in a vacant lot.

She had been beaten and had severe burns over 60 % to 65 % of her body. Authorities say Hawley, who died the next day, had moved 10 to 15 feet while burning.

"Of the 80 or 90 homicides I've worked in the last 21 years, when you consider only cases with single victims, this was the meanest killing I've ever been associated with," said Lou Keel, an Oklahoma County prosecutor who prosecuted Cannon.

Cannon, who was raised in Tulsa and had a history of drug use, admitted he watched co-defendant Loyd Lafevers commit the crimes but did nothing to stop them. However, the state argued and the jury found that Cannon played a more direct role in Hawley's death.

Cannon also pleaded no contest to charges related to the June 25, 1985, beatings of an 81-year-old woman and her granddaughter. Prosecutors allege Cannon and Lafevers, who was executed in January 2001, assaulted and robbed 2 other women around the same time.

Cannon appealed to the Supreme Court Monday, arguing that justices' June ruling requiring that juries not judges hand down death sentences indirectly affected his case.

That ruling reinstated an older case requiring that every fact-finding decision in a trial be made beyond a reasonable doubt, said Cannon's attorney Jack Fisher.

That means juries applying capital punishment must find that aggravating factors in support of death outweigh beyond a reasonable doubt mitigating ones against death, Fisher said. Oklahoma's standard only requires that one outweigh the other, he said.

But justices, who were asked to apply that ruling retroactively to older cases like Cannon's, declined to hear the case.

About a dozen relatives of Hawley and Cannon's other victims came to McAlester to witness Cannon's execution, the 1st held since the state changed the time from 9 p.m. Only Fisher and his wife came for Cannon.

Cannon ate his last meal about noon while he waited to hear if the Supreme Court would grant his stay.

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-0 on July 9 to deny Cannon's request for clemency.

The state executed David Wayne Woodruff on Jan. 31 for the 1985 killing of an Oklahoma City jeweler. Woodruff's accomplice was executed Jan. 29.

On June 25, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals granted convicted killer David Jay Brown a 30-day reprieve after he alleged that prosecutors withheld information supporting his defense. Brown was to be executed that night for the 1988 murder of his former father-in-law.

Cannon becomes the 51st condemned inmate to be put to death since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)


    Richard William Kutzner, 59, 2002-08-07, Texas

Repeatedly proclaiming his innocence, a career criminal with convictions in 3 states was executed Wednesday evening for killing a suburban Houston woman.
"There's nothing else I can say. I didn't do this," Richard William Kutzner, 59, said while strapped to the death chamber gurney.

Looking at the daughter of one of his victims, Kutzner blamed the murder on "2 guys who worked for me."

He also renewed his call for DNA testing on evidence from the crime scene that he insisted would exonerate him. Kutzner said he hoped his death would keep others from sharing his fate.

"Warden, this is murder just as surely as the people who killed Rebecca's mother," he said, referring to Rebecca Harrison. "I guess that's it. Warden, send me home."

As the drugs began taking effect, he remarked, "I taste it. I'm gone" After uttering a long gasp, he was pronounced dead at 6:33 p.m., 10 minutes after the lethal dose began.

It was 1 of 2 death sentences given to Kutzner, who acknowledged offenses but insisted they didn't include a pair of Houston-area slayings 17 days apart in 1996.

"I was convicted on the barest of circumstantial evidence," he said recently from death row. "I have never ever harmed anybody in the course of my so-called criminal career."

Kutzner was convicted of robbery in California in the 1960s, theft in Texas in 1984 and aggravated robbery 4 times in Texas in 1985. The Mount Clemens, Mich., native also was convicted of armed robbery in suburban Detroit and served prison time in his home state.

Condemned for strangling Kathryn Harrison, 59, at her Montgomery County real estate office, he was the 19th inmate executed this year in Texas and first of two set for consecutive evenings this week.

Harrison was choked and bound with plastic wire and cable ties Jan. 22, 1996. A videocassette recorder and a computer keyboard were missing. The restraints on the victim typically are used by air conditioning technicians, a job held by Kutzner and a trade he learned while imprisoned in California for an Orange County conviction.

Kutzner was within a day of execution in July 2001 when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the punishment to examine his request for DNA testing on evidence. His appeal was the 1st under a new state law, intended to boost the integrity of the Texas criminal justice system, that provided state-paid DNA testing in cases where biological evidence exists and the identity of an offender was at issue.

Kutzner argued a hair at the scene of Harrison's murder was not his, was withheld from evidence and should be tested. Prosecutors contended the woman's office was a public place, negating the significance of a hair belonging to someone other than Kutzner.

The court agreed with the state and refused the request.

"I expect the people of Texas really do want justice and want to know if they're going to kill people, at least they're going to kill the right ones," Kutzner said. "If I got a DNA test, I can show somebody else was at the scene of the crime."

Kutzner's lawyer, Jim Marcus, argued in federal court appeals that testing of hair and also of scrapings from under the fingernails of the victim could show someone else committed the murder.

"Placing a known offender, with no other connection to the scene, near the body of the victim would be powerful evidence of Mr. Kutzner's innocence," Marcus said.

"I'm sure he's proclaiming innocence, but there's no doubt in my mind," said Mike Griffin, the Montgomery County district attorney who prosecuted what he called "a tremendously good circumstantial case."

Griffin said the state appeals court believed even if DNA showed the hair belonged to someone else, "the evidence is so overwhelming that what difference would it make?"

Earlier Wednesday, the district attorney's office gave Marcus the evidence so he could arrange his own tests,

"It's no indication on our part there's something wrong with the case," said Gail McConnell, an assistant prosecutor who handles appeals in Montgomery County. "We have our evidence. We stick by it. But we're not going to deny any person, especially someone with a death sentence, the ability to test it.

"As far as we're concerned, we had the evidence to convict."

The Harrison murder was very similar to one in nearby Harris County. Reta Van Huss, 54, was found Jan. 5, 1996, on the floor of her Spring-area residence where she ran a storage space business. Witnesses said Kutzner had been there a few days earlier, inquiring about space. A contract with his name on it was found on her desk.

Kutzner endorsed a $300 money order, 1 of 2 money orders stolen from her. He contended another man gave him the money order.

Then authorities found 30-inch plastic tie wraps at his house and in his vehicle that matched those on the victim. Like Harrison, Van Huss was strangled, and her hands and feet were bound with the strips.

A Harris County jury took 16 minutes before returning a death sentence.

Authorities matched the same strips to both killings. An FBI analyst testified that the metal cutter recovered from Kutzner's truck was used to cut the plastic strips at both murder scenes. Friends testified that he gave them Harrison's VCR and keyboard.

"I didn't do it, I didn't do it," Kutzner repeated from death row. "I've been convicted, and it doesn't make any difference to the courts.

"I'm an ex-convict," he said, explaining why prosecutors went after him for capital murder. "I was easy."

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Earl Alexander Frederick Sr., 51, 2002-07-30

Earl Alexander Frederick Sr. was executed Tuesday for the 1989 beating death of a Spencer man.

Frederick, 51, who said he wanted his sentence carried out, was pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m. after receiving a lethal injection of drugs.

He was convicted twice for killing Bradford Lee Beck.

Frederick had told the Oklahoma Attorney General's office he wanted to waive any appeals to his sentence.

"Mere words cannot begin to express the sorrow I feel over my actions," Frederick said in a February 2001 letter to Assistant Attorney General Sandy Howard. "I am guilty of the crime, let there be no doubt of that."

Beck's mother Beatrice and his cousin Mark Smith were expected to witness the execution.

"I never thought I would live to see the execution carried out," Beck's family said in a statement. "I am relieved to know that justice will be served this evening."

Frederick was 1st convicted in 1992 and sentenced to death for killing Beck.

Beck's body had started to decompose when it was found in a field in Midwest City on Jan. 15, 1990. The medical examiner listed the cause of death as undetermined head trauma.

Prosecutors said the 41-year-old Beck, a partially paralyzed Vietnam War veteran, befriended Frederick in November of 1989. Beck let Frederick stay with him and told his family that Frederick was an old war buddy. Beck said the two had stayed together at a veterans hospital.

The 2nd trial came in 1998 after a judge ruled Frederick was competent to stand trial again.

At the time of his arrest, Frederick told authorities one of his personalities, named Jeff, made him do bad things. Prosecutors argued Frederick was faking multiple personality disorder.

He was convicted and again sentenced to death.

"I certainly feel the conviction and sentence I received the 1st time was justified," Frederick said. "Just as it was (the 2nd) time also."

Frederick becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma, and the 52nd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.

The state executed John Joseph Romano on Jan. 29 for the 1985 death of an Oklahoma City jeweler. Romano's co-defendant, David Wayne Woodruff, was put to death 2 days later.

Last week, Randall Eugene Cannon was executed for the kidnapping and killing of an 84-year-old Oklahoma City woman.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    T.J. Jones, 25, 2002-08-08, Texas

An 8th-grade dropout who was a teenager when he was convicted of killing an East Texas man during a carjacking more than 8 years ago apologized for the crime and was executed today.

"I would like to say to the victim's family I regret the pain I put y'all through. I hope you can move on after this," T.J. Jones said, looking at relatives of his victim.

Then Jones, 25, turned to a second window where his mother was watching and said, "Mom, I love y'all. Take care. I'm ready."

He gasped and stopped breathing. Jones was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m., 7 minutes after the lethal dose began. His mother sobbed quietly and was comforted by Jones' aunt.

Jones was 17 when he was arrested with 3 companions for gunning down 75-year-old retired electrician Willard Davis, who had surrendered his car to them outside his home in Longview, about 190 miles north of Houston.

"They tried to make him get in the back seat and he said: 'No. Here's my car. Please let me go to my wife,'" recalled Alfonso Charles, an assistant district attorney in Gregg County who helped prosecute Jones. "And T.J. shot him right between the eyes."

Jones' lawyers filed no late appeals to try to halt the punishment.

"He has exhausted his remedies," attorney Don Davidson said.

Jones' sentence and his age at the time of the shooting renewed criticism from traditional death penalty opponents. As a teenage offender, Jones "would not be facing this punishment in almost any other country in the world," Amnesty International said in a statement.

"He's not a juvenile," Gregg County District Attorney Bill Jennings responded. "Under Texas law he is an adult and he's in an adult system.

"He did an adult crime and he deserves to receive an adult penalty, which in this case 12 jurors decided should be death."

Texas is among 22 states that allow capital punishment for 17-year-olds.

Jones was the 12th Texas inmate and the 20th in the United States executed since 1976 for a murder committed when the killer was younger than 18. In May, and with much greater outcry from capital punishment opponents, Napoleon Beazley received lethal injection in Texas for killing the father of a federal judge. Beazley was 17 at the time of the crime.

"I'm pretty sure of my fate here," Jones, who declined to speak with reporters in the weeks leading up to his execution, said on a Web site sponsored by an anti-death penalty organization. On the site, he asked for pen pals "who will give me moral support and if possible help me to make the rest of my stay here as comfortable as can be in this situation."

Court records show Jones and 3 partners approached Davis the mid-afternoon of Feb. 2, 1994 and demanded his red Chrysler LeBaron. When Davis surrendered the car but refused to go with them, he was shot with a .357-caliber Magnum.

Witnesses saw Jones and his companions get in the car and drive away. Davis' wife of 56 years heard the shots from inside her house and was among the 1st to see the body.

All 4 teenagers were arrested soon after the shooting.

"The car made it a short distance before a tire blew out," Jennings said.

Jones' partners were convicted of engaging in organized criminal activity and received long prison terms.

Testimony showed Jones lived in a gang house with the then-16-year-old mother of his child and was addicted to smoking marijuana laced with embalming fluid. He had been arrested repeatedly as a juvenile for burglary and police said the gang was believed responsible for numerous assaults.

3 days before the Davis killing, authorities determined Jones shot a convenience store clerk during a robbery in nearby Tyler. The victim survived 5 bullet wounds and testified against Davis in the punishment phase of the capital murder trial.

Another 2 executions are set for next week, and 2 more for later in the month, including Toronto Patterson, who was 17 in 1995 when he was arrested for shooting a mother and her 2 young daughters at their home in Dallas.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Javier Suarez Medina, 33, 2002-08-14, Texas

In Huntsville, convicted cop killer Javier Suarez Medina was executed ednesday evening amid Mexican government protests he was not provided proper legal assistance guaranteed to foreigners under an international treaty.

Speaking both English and Spanish, Suarez apologized for the crime, asked forgiveness from the relatives of the slain police officer and thanked the people of Mexico for their support in his case.

"I'd like to apologize to the Cadena family for whatever hurt and suffering I've caused them," he said in a final statement that lasted several minutes. "I sincerely ask in your heart to forgive me."

The mother and son of the officer were among the people watching him die.

"I don't hold anything against anybody," Suarez added. He turned to his family and told them he was going to "a better place. This is just a stepping stone. I'm going home. I'm at peace. I'm at rest."

Switching to Spanish, he asked that God bless all the people of Mexico. "Thanks for your support and for never leaving me alone," he said.

At one point, he said "Viva Mexico." His father, watching through a window, raised a clinched fist at that moment.

Suarez, 33, was condemned for the 1988 slaying of Dallas officer Lawrence Cadena, 43, gunned down during an undercover drug buy. Suarez, 19 at the time, and a partner were wounded and another companion killed in an ensuing shootout with Dallas police.

"There's a part of me that's looking forward to it," Suarez told The Huntsville Item in a story published today. "I'm more at peace now. I know that the state views executing me as punishing me, but I consider this sending me to my real home."

Suarez's attorneys asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the lethal injection. The high court, without comment, turned him down about 90 minutes before the scheduled execution time.

Gov. Rick Perry, who traditionally withholds a decision in execution cases until legal challenges are resolved, then denied Suarez a 30-day reprieve, the only action Perry could take without approval of the parole board.

"I have reviewed all of the information presented to me -- including the issue of the international treaty," Perry said. "My staff has met with Mexico government officials to hear their concerns about this case, and I have talked with Mexican President Vicente Fox about this matter. I respect the sovereignty of Mexico and its laws, and I know that President Fox recognizes the sovereignty of U.S. and Texas law."

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles earlier this week refused, in a 17-0 vote, to commute Suarez's sentence to life in prison. The panel also voted 16-1, rejecting a request they recommend Perry put off the punishment for 90 days.

Dallas authorities said Suarez gave conflicting information when asked about his birthplace, identifying both Mexico and Texas. Birth in Mexico would allow him to seek legal help from the Mexican consulate when he was arrested Dec. 13, 1988.

According to provisions of the 1963 Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, which the United States has signed, detained foreign nationals are allowed to contact their consulates for help, but Suarez's supporters say he never was told of that right.

"Consular notification and access are both binding legal obligations and essential human rights safeguards that must be respected," said Amnesty International, which opposes all executions. "Unless Texas authorities halt this execution immediately, the United States will once again lose its credibility as a nation which respects its binding human rights obligations."

"We think and believe strongly that the need to provide consular notification is a very important issue," State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said. "It has implications for reciprocal situations, obviously."

Reeker, however, said the State Department took no position on the punishment, which was strongly opposed by Mexico President Vicente Fox. Fox said Suarez may have avoided the death penalty, which is not a legal punishment in Mexico, if he had received help from the Mexican government. He wrote Perry and then talked with the governor earlier this week to air his concerns.

"I realize that Mexico is a sovereign country and certainly I hope that President Fox and the citizens of Mexico respect our sovereignty not only as a nation but also as a state," Perry said Wednesday.

There was little dispute Suarez killed Cadena Dec. 13, 1988. The officer, a 17-year police veteran, was fatally shot in his car in an East Dallas convenience store parking lot while trying to complete the purchase of what he thought was about $4,000 worth of cocaine. The cocaine turned out to be fake.

"I thought he was just a ... regular drug dealer," Suarez testified at his trial. "He didn't have no sign for me to know that he was a cop."

Besides raising claims about the treaty violations in their appeal to the Supreme Court, Suarez's lawyers said his 14 execution dates since his 1989 conviction amounted to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.

Lori Ordiway, chief of the appellate section of the Dallas County district attorney's office, said many of the previous appeals Suarez filed contributed to the delays.

"You can't have it both ways," she said. "Only in the last one, a week before execution, does he raise this violation of Vienna Convention claim.

"He had 13 years. He was convicted in 1989. He is alleging he became aware of this some time right after trial or during trial. It's a way for him to try to delay his rightful sentence."

The arguments about the Vienna Convention were not new.

Similar appeals in 1999 failed to save condemned inmate Stanley Faulder, a Canadian, and in 2000, Miguel Flores, a Mexican.

At least four Mexican nationals have been executed in Texas, along with a man from the Dominican Republic and one from Vietnam. More than 2 dozen of the 453 inmates on Texas death row are foreigners -- 18 of them from Mexico.

Evidence showed Suarez walked up to Cadena's car, opened the passenger door and threw inside a bag of powdery substance. Then he pulled from beneath a long dark leather overcoat a semiautomatic machine pistol and opened fire, killing the officer with shots to the abdomen, chest and both arms.

Backup officers stationed nearby immediately responded, wounding Suarez and a 2nd suspect and killing a 3rd companion. The other wounded man, Fernando Fernandez, was convicted of cocaine delivery and aggravated robbery and is serving a 60-year prison term.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)


August 14, 2002

The Final Request of Javier Suarez Medina: An Appeal for Peace and Forgiveness

Despite unprecedented and urgent interventions by many of the United States closest allies, Mexican national Javier Suarez Medina was executed this evening in Huntsville, Texas. The execution was allowed to proceed after the United States Supreme Court denied the final appeal and after the Governor of Texas refused to grant a reprieve.

Javier told me to be sure and express his profound thanks for the support of the Mexican government and the prayers of the Mexican people, Lydia Brandt, counsel to Mr. Suarez Medina, said today. I know that he was also intensely grateful for all of the efforts made on his behalf by the international community.

Javier asked that there be no violence or demonstrations to protest his execution -- he wanted there to be peace.

Most of all, Javier wanted to convey his deepest remorse to the Cadena family. One of his main concerns regardless of whether his sentence was carried out was that the family of Officer Cadena know that he is grieving with them, she said.

Javier specifically asked that it be made known to the Cadena family that he deeply regrets the crime and the suffering that they've endured, and that he really wants the family to find closure and peace, Ms. Brandt said.

Background Information

The final tally of intervening nations and international bodies bears testament to the depth of concern which the case of this quiet young Mexican generated around the world. As of earlier today, seventeen nations had expressed deep concern over the undeniable violation of Mr. Suarez Medinas consular rights, either by sending appeals for clemency or by intervening at the Supreme Court in support of a judicial review. The nations are, first and foremost, Mexico--along with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Uruguay and Venezuela.

An extraordinary array of inter-governmental, religious, legal and human rights organizations also called on the United States and Texas authorities to stay the execution. They included: the European Union, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, UN Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International, the American Bar Association, the Dominican and Franciscan Orders and many others.

(source: Lydia M.V. Brandt---The Brandt Law Firm, P.C.---Richardson, Texas)

    Daniel Basile, 35, 2002-08-14, Missouri

A Missouri inmate sentenced to death in the 1992 contract killing of a suburban St. Louis woman was executed Wednesday night, ending his 22-hour reprieve granted when a supposed alibi witness surfaced.

Daniel Basile, 35, died at 10:05 p.m. at the Potosi Correctional Center, 4 minutes after the 1st of 3 lethal chemical doses was administered, Department of Corrections spokesman John Fougere said.

Basile's fate was sealed after the Missouri Supreme Court, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court and Gov. Bob Holden refused to intervene.

Holden ultimately delayed the execution to give the courts time to review the case, marking the 1st time in 13 death penalty cases since Holden took office that he has intervened.

In its appellate ruling Wednesday, a 3-judge 8th Circuit panel found that "Basile knew of the witness at the time of his trial," and that "we are satisfied the alibi witness' story does not constitute `clear and convincing evidence' of actual innocence ..."

After Basile's execution, Holden said "the citizens of Missouri can rest assured that the defendant was given every opportunity to present all claims prior to the sentence being carried out."

"While delays at this late date are difficult for all concerned, particularly for the victim's family, our court system is designed to accommodate this type of situation and ensure that justice is served," Holden said in a statement.

Hours before his death, Basile said he was "nervous" and that "I believe in God and that Christ died for our sins, and as long as we ask for his forgiveness we will be at peace," he said.

Basile had claimed he was innocent in the 1992 shooting death of Elizabeth DeCaro, 28, of St. Charles. Basile was convicted in a murder-for-hire plot by DeCaro's husband, Richard, who had taken a $100,000 life insurance policy on his wife.

Richard DeCaro was acquitted in state court but was later convicted, along with Basile, on federal charges, and is serving a life sentence.

Basile said Montgomery-Lewis could exonerate him in the killing because she drove him to a St. Charles parking lot to pick up the DeCaros' Chevrolet Blazer. It had been alleged that Basile murdered DeCaro, then drove the Blazer from her home.

Basile said he offered Julie's name to his trial attorneys, but they never pursued her.

In her statement faxed to Holden's office, Montgomery-Lewis said "the reason I have not come forward before now with my knowledge is because I had discussed testifying with Daniel at the time his case went to court."

"He alone decided that it would appear improper due to the fact that we were both in relationships and would not allow me to say anything to anyone," Montgomery-Lewis said.

On Wednesday, Basile said in an interview he never called upon Montgomery-Lewis to testify at trial because he was convinced he would be exonerated without her, and that "I didn't think I'd have to go in there with some big show of evidence."

"I told her to go ahead and stay out of it," Basile said. "I told her it (testifying) would probably be more hassle."

Georgianna Van Iseghem, Elizabeth DeCaro's mother, called the maneuver a ploy to delay the execution.

"I feel for his family and their anguish, but I know he's guilty," Van Iseghem said.

Basile becomes the 5th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Missouri and the 58th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1989.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Wallace M. Fugate III, 52, 2002-08-16, Georgia

Wallace M. Fugate III, convicted of killing his wife in front of their 15-year-old son in 1991, was executed Friday after 2 narrow escapes from the death chamber.

Fugate 52, was pronounced dead at 9:46 p.m., the 7th man put to death since Georgia adopted lethal injection as its method of execution.

Before a lethal sequence of three chemicals was pumped into his body, Fugate said very little beyond thanking his attorneys, who won last-minute stays of execution in June and then again this week. He then said goodbyes to his slain wife and dead son.

His last words were: "I feel right with God. Nothing to worry about."

After being administered the sedative sodium pentothal, followed by Pavulon to paralyze his lungs, and potassium chloride to stop his heart, Fugate nodded to his attorney and a paralegal, smiled weakly, then yawned, rolled his head to the right and died.

His attorney, Stephen Bright, said that before the execution Fugate had met with his parents for the 2nd time in 3 days, and spoke warmly of his wife, Pattie, and son, Mark, who was slain 5 years after his mother in an unrelated case.

A federal judge refused Fugate's claim Tuesday that lethal injection is unconstitutionally cruel because it may be possible for prisoners to feel intense pain if the sedative wears off before death.

Fugate fatally shot his wife during a struggle outside the family home in Putnam County, according to court testimony. But he insisted the gun fired accidently after he took it out to a van and they scuffled inside.

Mark Fugate gave 2 accounts of his mother's death. He told police his view was blocked and that he could not tell whether Fugate grabbed his mother by the hair and fired the gun in her face.

At the trial, he testified that he saw his father tilt his mother's head back, pull the trigger and then look at him and smile.

The record of the trial and appeals shows Fugate's appointed trial lawyers did not challenge the son's testimony, nor did they hire an investigator to check the account. The lawyers also appeared to be unfamiliar with any significant Supreme Court decisions concerning the death penalty.

But a 3-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the death sentence last summer, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal in May.

The state Supreme Court denied his appeal on Wednesday and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant a stay Friday night.

Fugate becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Georgia and the 30th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983. One woman and 119 men remain on death row.

    Gary Wayne Etheridge, 38, 2002-08-20,Texas

Convicted killer Gary Wayne Etheridge was executed in the Texas death chamber this evening for the fatal stabbing of a 15-year-old Brazoria County girl more than a dozen years ago while the then-paroled burglar said he was high on drugs.

Etheridge, 38, acknowledged knifing the girl's mother, who hired him as a maintenance worker despite knowing his criminal past, but said he wasn't responsible for killing Christie Chauviere at her Brazoria County home.

"I've been a criminal all my life," Etheridge said from death row. "I was there. I done wrong and I feel responsible but I did not kill the girl."

The U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, refused today to stop the punishment. His appeals attorneys had argued in appeals that earlier lawyers did not provide him competent help.

It was the second time in recent months the former maintenance man prepared for death.

A day before Etheridge was scheduled to die in June, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the punishment after his attorneys complained the judge who signed his death warrant once called him "a piece of trash" and was biased against Etheridge.

A new judge was assigned to his case and reset the execution date for Tuesday.

Etheridge, with a history of theft and burglary convictions, was on parole for about 6 weeks after serving part of a 10-year term for burglary when he showed up at the home of Gail Chauviere.

Chauviere had given him a job at a condominium she managed near Surfside, about 60 miles south of Houston. Etheridge said he demanded money "to fill a hole for drugs" and he knew the woman carried in a bag some cash received from tenants.

When Chauviere resisted, she was stabbed. Her daughter, Christie, also was assaulted and fatally stabbed with a knife.

"I never intended to hurt everyone," Etheridge said. "I cut and stabbed Gail with a little bitty pocket knife."

Etheridge, who started using cocaine at age 17, said he probably was high on drugs at the time and she fought as he tried to put the woman in a closet.

"She kicked me and it hurt," he said.

Etheridge drove off in the woman's car. A neighbor found Chauviere, seriously wounded with at least 30 stab sounds, and her daughter. The girl had been bound with a telephone cord and fatally stabbed several times in the chest. The high school freshman also had been sexually abused with an object.

Five days later, after wrecking the car in Mobile, Ala., Etheridge was arrested while hitchhiking south of Houston. He told police he was heading back to Brazoria County to turn himself in, apologized to the arresting officer for killing the girl and gave a written statement that he committed the murder.

In a death row interview, Etheridge blamed the slaying on a companion.

"I was not alone," he said. "I'm not an innocent person by any means, but I did not kill Christie."

At his trial, however, Gail Chauviere identified him as the lone attacker.

"We were very fortunate to have a surviving eyewitness," said Jim Mapel, who prosecuted Etheridge. "This little girl's mother was cut to ribbons."

Authorities said Etheridge discovered where the woman lived because a week before the attack, Chauviere and her daughter called him over to give him a puppy. Chauviere died years later of a liver disease believed related to injuries suffered in the assault.

Another execution is set for next week. A Dallas man, Toronto Patterson, was scheduled to die Aug. 28 for killing a 3-year-old Dallas girl in a shooting rampage that also claimed the lives of the girl's mother and a 6-year-old sister. Patterson was 17 at the time of the crime.

Etheridge becomes the 22nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas, the 4th this month, and the 278th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982. Texas, which executed a record 40 condemned individuals in 2000, already has 11 more execution dates set between now and the end of the year.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Anthony Green, 37, 2002-08-23, South Carolina

Anthony Green was put to death Friday evening for the killing of a Naval wife and mother out shopping at a mall 15 years ago.

On Thursday, Gov. Jim Hodges denied requests from Green's attorneys and humanitarian groups to halt the execution. The state Supreme Court had earlier denied Green's call to stop the execution and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied his appeal Thursday afternoon.

The U.S. Supreme Court, Green's last chance for a stay, refused to block Green's execution Friday afternoon.

Green died by lethal injection at 6:18 p.m., a prisons official said.

Green, 37, had been on death row since 1988 for the murder of 36-year-old Susan Barbara Babich of Hanahan. She was robbed and shot in the head with a rifle moments after she parked her car at The Charles Towne Mall in November 1987.

Green was arrested about a half-hour later with a rifle and Babich's checkbook in his car. He told police he shot the woman because she saw him sneaking up on her.

"Because of the act of one selfish individual, our family's perspective on society, as well as how we approach everyday activities, has been forever changed," the Babich family wrote in a statement forwarded by her brother Daniel Merton.

No one from Babich's or Green's families was present for the execution.

The Babich family thanked the jurors on Green's case and the South Carolina justice system. The Babich family's statement said they chose not to attend Friday "for it will serve no purpose in our lives. We seek not mere revenge but what the justice system has deemed necessary and appropriate.

"Justice has prevailed," they wrote, "and will be served in our conscious absence."

Opponents of the death penalty argued that Green's execution showed the racial bias in sentencing in South Carolina. Green is black, Babich was white.

During his time as a solicitor, now-state Attorney General Charlie Condon sought death sentences in 40 % of his cases of black-on-white homicide, the South Carolina Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty said.

Condon only sought death, the coalition said, in 2.9 % of cases in which the victim and defendant were black.

In July, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights asked South Carolina not to execute Green while it studied whether putting him to death would violate his human rights.

The group said if Green were to die at the state's hand before "an opportunity to examine his case, any eventual decision would be rendered moot ... and he would suffer irreparable damage."

Condon has said the brutality of Green's crime spoke for itself.

Green becomes the 2nd condemned prisoner to be put to death this year in South Carolina and the 27th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1985. Michael Passaro is scheduled for execution in the state on Sept. 13.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Toronto Patterson, 24, 2002-08-28, Texas

Apologetic but maintaining his innocence, a former teenage drug dealer was executed Wednesday evening for killing a 3-year-old cousin at her Dallas home - 1 of 3 relatives gunned down so he could steal some fancy car wheels.

"I am sorry for the pain, sorry for what I caused my friends, family and loved ones," Toronto Patterson, now 24, said while strapped to the death chamber gurney.

"I feel a great deal of responsibility and guilt for what happened.

"I should be punished for the crime, but I do not think I should die for a crime I did not commit."

Patterson said that while he was sorry, nothing could bring back the victims and he prayed his death would bring peace and unite his family.

"I ask for your forgiveness and that you will all forgive me," he said. "I invite you all to my funeral. We are still family."

As the drugs began taking effect, Patterson exhaled and then gasped. 9 minutes later at 6:20 p.m. CDT, he was pronounced dead.

Patterson was 17 when he was arrested for the fatal shootings of Ollie Brown, 3; her sister, Jennifer, 6; and their mother, Kimberly Brewer, 25.

His age at the time of the slayings renewed criticism of capital punishment for teenagers from death penalty opponents.

2 other condemned killers were executed in Texas - one 3 weeks ago and another in May - for crimes committed when they were 17. While execution critics referred to them as juveniles, under the law in Texas and at least 21 other states they were adults.

"I'm scared, but being here, seeing so many other people with dates dying, and how everything gets in motion, I pretty much seen how things are going to go. I guess you'd say - something like a routine," Patterson said in an interview last week on death row, where he is known as "Tonto."

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles earlier this week refused requests for a reprieve or for clemency.

Patterson's attorneys appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, contending his punishment, because of his age at the time of the crime, would be unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. About 2 hours before his scheduled execution time, the high court, in a 6-3 vote, rejected his appeal.

"Such executions not only violate international norms, they also offend human decency," said Steven Hawkins, executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. "The mind of a juvenile offender is by definition less developed than the mind of an adult."

Not so, said George West, one of the Dallas County district attorneys who prosecuted Patterson.

"The stated age of an individual is one thing, their maturity and experience is another," West said. "And this guy wasn't a dummy."

Evidence showed Patterson went to the home of his great-aunt on June 6, 1995, so he could steal the chrome wheels from a BMW stored there. Similar wheels on his own car had been stolen.

Armed with a .38-caliber pistol, prosecutors said he shot Brewer, his cousin and his great-aunt's daughter, as she was seated in a recliner. Then he moved on to the children, shooting the 6-year-old as she watched cartoons on television, and the 3-year-old as she cowered in a corner of the room, her hands over her ears.

"It was extremely sad," West said this week. "The only person who could stop him physically was Kimberly, the woman... But what does he do? He decides: 'I've got to eliminate eyewitnesses because that means I could try to increase my odds of not getting caught. So I eliminate the two kids who know me.'

"No question about thought processes there," West added. "There was no need to kill the kids otherwise."

Authorities said he then took 3 rims from the car but was unable to remove the fourth. His fingerprints were found on the rims, left at his girlfriend's house. His bloody clothing was traced to the victims. He told his girlfriend he had robbed and shot someone.

He was arrested the following day. Police saw him in news footage in the crowd outside his cousins' house as the bodies were being removed. He was not grieving, prosecutors recalled.

In testimony at his trial and in interviews, he blamed the deaths on unnamed "Jamaicans."

"I wasn't there when the shootings occurred," he said last week.

"It was a hokey story," said Jason January, another of the prosecutors in Patterson's case. "We were very very confident we got the right man."

Patterson becomes the 23rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas, and the 279th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on Dec. 7, 1982. 5 condemned inmates are set to die in September.

America has now executed 21 juvenile offenders since 1985, and 13 of them have been put to death in Texas.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Tony Lee Walker, 36,2002-09-10, Texas

A tear running down his face, a northeast Texas man convicted of raping and fatally beating a 66-year-old woman in an attack where her husband also was killed was executed Tuesday evening.

In a brief final statement, Tony Lee Walker said goodbye to a friend in Switzerland, who he identified as Diego, and another in England, who he called Wild Flower.

"I love you and will never forget you," Walker said.

"And to my family," he said, choking back tears, "nothing."

As the drugs began flowing, Walker started saying the Lord's Prayer, reaching the words "thy kingdom come" when he stopped. He looked at a chaplain standing at his feet and said, "help me, chaplain."

The chaplain continued saying the prayer as Walker gasped and sputtered several times. After Walker stopped breathing, a tear ran out of his right eye and down the side of his face. He was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m., 8 minutes after the drugs began flowing.

In a written statement, Walker said he was sorry for the crime and asked the victim's family if they "can find it in their hearts to forgive me, but if not I will understand."

Walker, 36, was high on crack cocaine and armed with pieces of railroad tie about the size of a baseball bat when evidence showed he clubbed Virginia Simmons and her husband, Willie "Bo" Simmons, 81 at their Daingerfield home the night of May 23, 1992.

Walker lived nearby and knew the victims. He confessed to police a couple of days later after his bloody shirt and other items from the crime scene were found in a wooded area between his home and the Simmons' home.

"If you're going to confess to murder, that's probably bad enough but when you put the details in that he did, that's what got him the death penalty," said Richard Townsend, the former Morris County district attorney who prosecuted Walker.

"He talked about doing things like sexually assaulting the elderly woman, then getting a beer in the kitchen and drinking a beer and trying to sexually assault her again when she was dead.

"He went into detail that made him look like a monster."

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected a commutation request by a 17-0 vote. No 11th-hour appeals were filed in the courts.

"There are simply no meritorious issues we could urge in good faith," his lawyer, Buck Files Jr., said. "After 5 years and 9 or 10 months, I have no more rabbits to pull out of the hat."

Files said he had hoped to spend time with Walker on Tuesday and offered to arrange transportation for Walker's wife to visit her husband in prison in the hours before his lethal injection but Walker declined to see either of them.

"As he put it, he didn't see any point to it," Files said.

Evidence showed earlier the evening of the killings, Walker was at the Simmons' house to purchase a beer and paid the couple 50 cents for it. When he returned, Bo Simmons let him in, presumably because he wanted another beer. Daingerfield was a dry community and the Simmons' house was a place he knew he could get a drink, authorities said.

In the attack, the wood ties broke from the force of the blows. Evidence showed he then grabbed a walking cane, which also broke, to continue the attack.

At his trial, Walker disputed his confession, testifying other men with him were responsible for the slayings although he did not deny the rape. Evidence, however, showed Walker was alone.

"He gave the worst confession I ever read, easily nailing himself to the wall, admitting not only the murder, but went into details," Townsend said.

On an anti-death penalty Web site, Walker, who refused to speak with reporters in the weeks before his scheduled punishment, wrote to a supporter in 1998 urging people purchase his wood craft products, like clocks and jewelry boxes.

"I have always been infatuated, working with wood," he said in the letter.

Walker also was convicted in 1978 of a murder in Dallas, where he was with others pulling a store robbery where a person was killed. He received a 5-year prison term but was discharged on early release after serving a little more than 2 years.

Walker becomes the 24th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 280th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Michael Passaro, 40, 2002-09-13, South Carolina

This time Michael Passaro was ready to die.

The 40-year-old inmate could have stopped his execution any time because he has never appealed his sentence, but with his mom, sister and 11 other witnesses watching, he died by lethal injection at 6:15 p.m. Friday. It was just 25 months after he pleaded guilty to murdering his daughter.

Passaro smiled and mouthed words of encouragement to his family through the glass barrier. He let his final few breaths out as his eyes slowly closed. It was a much less violent killing than the one 4 years ago that brought him to the death chamber.

In the midst of a custody dispute, Passaro parked the family minivan in front of his estranged wife's Myrtle Beach condominium, doused the inside with gasoline and set it on fire with their 2-year-old daughter, Maggie, strapped in her car seat. Passaro planned to die in the blaze, too, but jumped from the van when it exploded.

Firefighters who rushed to the scene asked Passaro if anyone was inside, but he refused to answer.

As the burgundy curtain opened at 6:01 p.m., Passaro turned toward his mother and sister, who were sitting in the front row. He blew them kisses and even laughed once, telling them over and over "I love you" and "It's over." He never looked at anyone else.

Meanwhile, across the room, the victim's grandfather placed his hand on Maggie's 2 sisters. They stared at Passaro without flinching. A state agent sat between the 2 families, who never looked at each other. About 2 minutes after the curtain opened, Passaro began puffing his breaths out of his lips. His breathing slowed, and his eyes crept shut until his chest stopped rising and his eyes were just glassed-over slits. 11 minutes after the execution began, a doctor came into the room and put a stethoscope to Passaro's chest, which was covered in a white sheet. He lifted Passaro's eyelids then pronounced him dead at 6:15 p.m.

Passaro, was a Navy veteran and former nurse technician with no other violent crimes on his record.

Richard Charles Johnson died May 3, while Anthony Green was put to death Aug. 23. The state executed 7 inmates in 1998, the busiest year in recent history. No other executions are imminent, Robb McBurney, spokesman for Attorney General Charlie Condon, said Friday.

Passaro's court-appointed lawyer, Joe Savitz, sat outside the Broad River Correctional Institution with a cell phone, ready to file an appeal if Passaro changed his mind.

Savitz said before the execution that he doubted the phone would ring because Passaro believed he would be reunited in heaven with his dead daughter and his 1st wife, who died nearly a decade ago as she tried to help a victim in a car accident.

Prosecutor Greg Hembree, who sent Passaro to death and watched the sentence carried out Friday, called him a cold-blooded, cowardly killer who wanted to hurt his estranged wife, Karen, as much as he could. He pointed to a typewritten suicide note salvaged from the van. "Whatever anyone does, please make sure that Karen doesn't kill herself over this," Passaro wrote. "I want her to live in pain for the rest of her life."

The girl's family issued a statement that said they would rather focus on Maggie's life instead of the death of her father.

"There are no words that could describe the horror that a mother must feel to see an ambulance take her child away," the family said.

They recalled fond memories of Maggie - reading her bedtime stories and seeing her standing by the refrigerator asking for strawberry milk. They refused to talk after the execution, choosing to issue a statement. "Maggie we love you and we miss you. You are always in our thoughts and prayers," they said.

Just 25 months ago, Passaro pleaded guilty to murder and a judge sentenced him to death. He has never appealed, telling his lawyers and judges a trip to the death chamber is better than spending the rest of his life in a cell.

"You do not have to live this life. I do. The state says I should die for what I did, and I am not going to stand in their way," Passaro wrote in a note to the state Supreme Court, opposing Savitz's attempts to force him to appeal his case.

Passaro was so determined to die he even personally appeared before the justices in May, asking them to let him go to his death without a judge ever reviewing his case. That hasn't happened since the state renewed the death penalty nearly 25 years ago.

The justices granted Passaro's request, noting that 12 percent of the 302 inmates executed in the United States between 1973 and 1995 waived at least some of their appeals.

But Passaro's determination didn't stop the state Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and Christian Action Council from filing an appeal for clemency to Gov. Jim Hodges.

The groups called Passaro's execution court-assisted suicide and said he should be spared because he suffered from a deep depression after his 1st wife died and was so suicidal that he slept with a knife. The petition says that judges who have reviewed the case never knew about Passaro's background, and that his own trial lawyers didn't fight to save him.

Hodges rejected the appeal Thursday. A South Carolina governor has not commuted a death sentence since capital punishment was brought back in 1977. Passaro becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in South Carolina and the 28th overall since the state resumed executions in 1985.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Jessie Joe Patrick, 44, 2002-09-17, Texas

In Huntsvile, a convict with a history of assaults was executed Tuesday for raping and fatally beating and slashing an 80-year-old Dallas woman during an attack at her home more than 13 years ago.

Jessie Joe Patrick already was on parole when evidence showed he crawled through a window and killed Nina Rutherford Redd, who lived alone a few houses away from him.

Patrick, 44, was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. CDT, 7 minutes after the lethal dose began.

He declined to make a final statement, but smiled and nodded to his wife, brother and other relatives as they entered the chamber.

His wife, Hester Patrick, repeatedly said, "I love you."

As he gasped and sputtered when the drugs began taking effect, his wife began wailing, and at one point she cried out: "Bastards!"

Then in the moments after her husband lost consciousness and before being examined by a physician who pronounced him dead, Hester Patrick bitterly denounced the death penalty and criminal justice system.

"I hope you all are satisfied now," she said. "You should be ashamed of yourselves."

Patrick's attorneys filed last-ditch appeals in the federal courts to try to block the punishment. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected his final appeals about an hour before he was executed.

Earlier appeals also were unsuccessful to have DNA testing of some evidence in hopes of exonerating him. Prosecutors argued a state district judge who agreed to the tests had no authority to do so and evidence against Patrick was overwhelming.

"This was not his first go-round with the law," recalled Jerri Sims, the former Dallas County district attorney who prosecuted Patrick for capital murder for the July 8, 1989, slaying. "It was so brutal. And, of course, he had no remorse."

Patrick's Austin-based lawyer, Keith Hampton, also questioned Patrick's mental competence, saying the former landscaper was mentally retarded and putting him to death would be unconstitutional.

There was no IQ test for Patrick, however, to quantify Hampton's contention.

Sims said the possibility of mental retardation never surfaced at his trial.

Patrick, his girlfriend and their infant son, had moved recently into the neighborhood in the Pleasant Grove section of southeast Dallas, and Redd had allowed them to use her phone and gave them milk for the child.

On the night of the killing, court records show he had been drinking and had tried to rape his girlfriend.

Redd's 78-year-old sister, who lived next door, discovered the body.

"Our prayers are for the Patrick family during this sad time of grief," Redd's family said in a statement released after the execution. "This is not a vendetta or a social event. We all hurt and hope the Patrick's can understand our grief for the past 13 years waiting for justice to be done..."

"Our family will always grieve for the way Nina die."

Police questioning neighbors began suspecting Patrick when his girlfriend said it appeared the distinctive wood-handled and square-tipped butcher knife found lying next to Redd's body appeared to be his.

Detectives found Patrick's palm print outside the victim's bathroom window sill. A sock in a trash can at Patrick's home was stained with blood that matched the victim. A dentist testified a bite mark on the slain woman's wrist matched Patrick's dental impression. Hairs at the slaying scene matched Patrick's hair.

Police arrested Patrick 2 weeks later at his sister's home in Jackson, Miss. When officers arrived, he was hiding under a bed.

Jurors deliberated about 50 minutes before convicting him of the slaying. It took the same jury less than 45 minutes to decide on the death sentence after 3 women testified Patrick either had assaulted or raped them in a drunken rage.

Patrick, a Los Angeles native, 1st went to prison in September 1985 for aggravated assault. He was released on probation after serving less than 4 months of a 4-year term, but returned 6 months later as a parole violator. Less than 6 months later, in January 1987, was paroled to Dallas County.

Patrick declined to speak with reporters in the weeks preceding his execution date. On a Web site used by inmates to attract penpals, he offered assurances to potential correspondents that "I am not an animal, but rather a down-to-earth person."

Another lethal injection was set for Wednesday. Ron Shamburger, 30, was condemned for the 1994 fatal shooting of Texas A&M University student Lori Baker during a burglary at her College Station home. Shamburger was a 5th-year senior at A&M at the time.

Patrick becomes the 25th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 281st overall since the state resumed capital punishment on Dec. 7, 1982.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Ronald Scott Shamburger, 30, 2002-09-18, Texas

In Huntsville, a former Texas A&M student was executed Wednesday for gunning down another Aggie during a burglary at her home 8 years ago.

Ron Shamburger confessed to the fatal shooting of Lori Baker, 20, within hours of the attack, which climaxed a series of burglaries he'd been committing in College Station, many of them at homes he'd broken into numerous times.

Shamburger sang an old religious hymn and uttered several quotes from the Bible as the lethal drugs were administered.

Then he looked at the victim's family and said, "I am really sorry for the pain and sorrow I caused you. I really do not know what to say, but I am sorry ... forgive me."

He was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. CDT, 6 minutes after receiving the injection lethal drugs.

Evidence showed Shamburger used a credit card stolen from Baker's home a few days before the fatal attack to buy the murder weapon, a 9 mm pistol.

Shamburger's lawyers went to the U.S. Supreme Court to try to halt the punishment, but the court denied his petition and application for stay of execution. Similar efforts failed Tuesday in the state courts.

Shamburger, from Longview, was a 22-year-old 5th-year senior nearing a degree in biomedical science when authorities say he became obsessed with burglaries in which he stole credit cards and cash.

On the night of Sept. 30, 1994, he broke into the home of Baker as the Aggie junior slept. She awoke, was bound with duct tape, then was fatally shot in the head.

"How do you explain it?" said Bill Turner, the Brazos County district attorney who prosecuted Shamburger. "It's real frightening.

"He does look like the boy next door. He does look like the guy you might trust, but there was more to him than that."

"I don't know why you do the things you do," Shamburger said recently from death row. "One thing leads to another... You lose touch with reality. You've chosen to do things that are wrong.

"There was an adrenaline rush to it the satisfaction of not being caught."

Baker's roommate, 20-year-old Victoria Kohler, returning home, heard noises from Baker's room and walked in that direction when she was confronted by Shamburger. He abducted Kohler and stuffed her in the trunk of her car, driving her around town before leaving her in the vehicle not far from home.

Then he returned to the murder scene, retrieved a can of gasoline from his own car parked outside, cut some of Baker's hair from around her fatal head injury and used a knife to poke at the wound in an unsuccessful search for the bullet. He poured gasoline in the room and over her body and set it ablaze only to discover the keys to his car were inside the burning room.

They had fallen from his shirt pocket.

Baker's brother, who lived next door, heard the explosion and tried to break windows to get his sister out. Shamburger was in the back yard by then, walking in circles, holding his pistol and repeating: "She's dead."

Kohler in the meantime had climbed from the trunk of her car, went to a nearby house and had the people there call 911.

Shamburger fled, called a friend, a minister at his church, met him and told him about the killing. They both went to the police station where Shamburger turned himself in to authorities.

"In this case, he breaks in with tape, a gun, gasoline," Turner said, explaining why he went for the death penalty although Shamburger had no previous record. "The premeditation, as well as escalation, I thought showed there was no question in my mind he'd be an extreme danger if we hadn't caught him."

Shamburger, who had been working in a supermarket, said he used the loot from his burglaries for movies, food and clothing.

While taking responsibility for the slaying "I can't say I'm here for something I didn't do" he said he hoped his victim's family could forgive him.

"I think we already have," Faye Baker, the victim's mother, said Tuesday.
"We are strong Christians. I believe for my own salvation that I need to forgive him... We don't harbor resentment. It's an absolute miracle that we don't."

That doesn't, however, diminish the pain of losing her daughter.

"He took the most precious thing in the world away from us and really destroyed our lives," she said. "But we don't think about him."

Shamburger becomes the 26th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 282nd overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Rex Mays, 42, 2002-09-24, Texas

A man who sometimes worked as a clown was executed today evening for fatally stabbing a pair of Houston-area girls after becoming enraged when they refused to turn down some loud music.

Rex Mays, 42, was condemned for killing Kynara Carreiro, 7, and her 10-year-old friend, Kristin Wiley, at the Wiley home next door to his house in a northwest Harris County neighborhood.

His last statement, which took several moments, was mostly in the form of a prayer in which he thanked God for "the opportunity to have a chance to be with you in paradise."

"I'm ready to go," he said. "I'm going to a better place. I'm just mad for one reason: I'm going to a better place, and y'all have to go through this hell on earth."

Mays made no eye contact with 6 members of his victims' family, but turned to the warden and, concluding, said "let me make parole and I'm ready to go home to the lord."

He coughed once and let out a long sputter as the lethal drugs began taking effect. He was pronounced dead 8 minutes later, at 6:19 p.m.

In a confession, Mays said he used skills with a knife he learned as a Marine to fatally stab and slash the girls.

The July 20, 1992 killings climaxed a day when the chronically unemployed Mays, who occasionally performed as Uh-Oh the Clown and also dressed as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, was fired from a low-level job in a printing company warehouse.

"The world will be better off with him not being in it," said Lyn McClellan, the Harris County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Mays.

No last-ditch appeals were filed to delay the punishment.

"As per his request," Mays lawyer, James Reed, said.

It took Harris County sheriff's detectives 19 months to get a confession from Mays, who was a suspect early in the investigation but couldn't be charged because of lack of evidence.

Jeremy Wiley, the 14-year-old brother of one of the victims, discovered the girls' mutilated bodies. Kynara was stabbed and slashed 23 times and Kristin at least 18.

"Anything he says is irrelevant," said Bob Carreiro, who lost a daughter in the attack. "It means nothing to me. There's no reason why you go and butcher 2 little girls. No matter what you say. No answers. No questions.

"Certainly having him out of the picture, it's something I won't have to worry about any more. As long as he's still breathing, he still has the opportunity to do it again."

As police swooped into the northwest Harris County neighborhood that July afternoon, Mays grabbed a lawn chair and sat outside to watch the scene.

Interviewed by detectives, he said he saw two men scaling a backyard fence during the time the girls would have been killed. It was pursued as the first lead in the case.

"That turned out to be a lie," McClellan said. "He has a very demented mind."

Despite a reward fund that grew to at least $25,000 and a billboard campaign that kept the two girls in the public eye, it wasn't until more than a year later after a Harris County sheriff's detective befriended Mays as part of the investigation that Mays cracked.

"It would make a great mystery book because of so many twists and turns," McClellan said.

Mays had no previous criminal record but acquaintances described him as a bad-tempered liar and braggart. A co-worker called him a "doofus, ... creepy but harmless."

In his confession, he said he parked his car a few blocks from home the day of the killings, choosing to walk home so he could think about how to tell his wife he had lost his job. He stopped outside the Wiley home, where 10-year-old Kristin's mother was down the street visiting with a neighbor.

Music from a stereo was blaring and he followed the sounds to a bedroom, where the girl was with her younger friend. She refused his request to turn down the volume.

"Here I had just gotten fired and some kid's telling me, 'No,'" he said in the confession.

He went to the kitchen, the girls behind him telling him to leave.

"It was just like something came over me," he said, explaining how he grabbed a knife and turned toward the children, who screamed and ran to a bedroom. He followed and killed them, "still feeling badly about how my day had gone," he said in the confession.

Then he went home, changed shirts before greeting his wife, and took a shower, telling his wife he had just seen someone run through the yard.

"My theory is he sees these little girls and probably had something sexual in mind," McClellan said. "They insulted him. He just flew into a rage."

Mays did not testify at his capital murder trial. He declined requests from reporters to speak while on death row.

Another execution was set for Wednesday evening. A Dallas man, Calvin King, 48, faced lethal injection for fatally stabbing a Silsbee man during a drug deal robbery in Beaumont in 1994.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Robert Buell, 62, 2002-09-25, Ohio

In Lucasville, the state executed a man Wednesday who in his final statement insisted that the "real killer" of an 11-year-old girl 20 years ago was still free.

Robert Buell, 62, directed his statement to the parents of Krista Harrison who he was convicted of raping and strangling.

"Jerry and Shirley, I didn't kill your daughter. The prosecutor knows that ... and they left the real killer out there on the streets to kill again and again and again," Buell said moments before his death by injection.

"So that some good may come of this, I ask that you continue to pursue this to the end. Don't let the prosecutor continue to spin this out of focus and force them to find out who really killed your daughter. That's all I have to say."

State and federal courts turned down last-minute appeals based on Buell's objections to the hypnotizing of witnesses at his trial.

Buell was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m.

A handful of protesters were outside the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility on Wednesday.

Tom O'Brien, 38, a graduate student in social work at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said his research convinced him the death penalty is inherently unfair.

"I saw the injustices that were prevalent throughout the system, and said I need to take a stand against it," he said.

Buell, a former Akron city planner, claimed he was innocent and that there was no eyewitness or DNA evidence connecting him to the crime.

He also argued that he could not defend himself properly because prosecutors withheld evidence that witnesses were hypnotized. Buell's lawyers say the hypnosis enhanced or altered the witnesses' memories before they testified.

Prosecutors argued that evidence for his 1984 conviction was overwhelming. It included fibers on Krista's body that matched fibers taken from carpet in Buell's van and blue and tan paint found on men's jeans dumped at the crime scene that matched paint found in Buell's home.

Prison officials said Buell awoke at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday and had a breakfast of bran flakes and a glass of milk. He spent time listening to the radio in his cell.

He ate his special meal at 4:06 p.m. Tuesday - a single black, unpitted olive, Dean said. Prison officials researched, but failed to find, any significance in the request.

Buell came close to dying in 1996. He awaited a court decision until 17 minutes after the scheduled execution, when a delay was upheld.

Outside the prison, seven protesters set up posters with the photos of the four men executed since 1999, with candles ready to be lighted on the ground. A poster to the side held a picture of the slain girl, Krista Harrison, with a white silk rose attached.

Some were among small groups of death penalty protesters who had gathered Tuesday in Cleveland and Akron, including Kathy Soltis, a member of the Cleveland Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

The number of protesters have shrunk since the state switched to daytime executions, Soltis said.

Also, Buell is a "less sympathetic figure," she said, because the victim was a child and Buell is not mentally ill.

Krista was abducted from a park across the street from where she lived in the village of Marshallville on July 11, 1982, as she collected aluminum cans with a boy. Her body was found 6 days later.

The crime went unsolved for 15 months until a 28-year-old woman who was abducted at gunpoint and raped and tortured at Buell's home escaped and ran to a neighbor's house.

The details of the assault led to his arrest for Krista's death.

Buell pleaded no contest to rape and other charges from the attack on the 28-year-old and the abduction and rape five months earlier of a 29-year-old woman. He was sentenced to 121 years in prison for those crimes.

Buell was later named as the chief suspect in the slayings of two other girls and identified by other victims of sexual assault in northeast Ohio.

Buell becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Ohio and the 5th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1999.

Buell becomes the 52nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 801st overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

(sources: Associated Press, Akron Beacon Journal & Rick Halperin)

Buell maintains innocence until the end

Robert Anthony Buell was executed this morning by lethal injection for the July 1982 abduction and slaying of 11-year-old Krista Lea Harrison of Marshallville.

Buell, a former loan specialist with the city of Akron's Planning Department, was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m. inside the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville.

Buell, 62, gave a one-minute statement just before prison officials unleashed a triple dose of drugs that eventually stopped his heart.

He said once again -- as he has maintained for his 18 years on death row -- that he did not kill Krista.

His death was witnessed by the Harrison men: Krista's father, Gerald, and older brothers Mark and Dana. 20 years ago, the brothers served as pallbearers at their sister's funeral.

Although he was permitted to have 3 witnesses, Buell declined. He leaves his mother Ola, sister Carole and a 37-year-old daughter.

Buell was convicted in 1984 for the murder of Krista, who was abducted from a park across the street from her home in July 1982. Her body was found 6 days later in a remote area of Holmes County.

Although Buell was identified as a suspect months after her murder, he was not arrested until 1983, when a 28-year-old Damascus woman escaped from his home after being abducted at gunpoint by Buell and taken to his Clinton home, where she was beaten, raped and tortured.

Rare carpet fibers found inside Buell's van and home were linked to those found on Krista's body. Additionally, paint stains found on a pair of men's jeans found near the crime scene matched those found at Buell's home. The jeans and a shirt were similar in size and brand name to those Buell owned.

Buell was also a suspect, but never charged, in the abductions and slaying of Tina Marie Harmon, 12, of Creston, and Deborah Kaye Smith, 11, of Massillon. He was also identified by women and teen-age girls, who were sexually assaulted in the 1980s.

Buell pleaded no contest to charges related to the abduction and rape of the Damascus woman and also a Pennsylvania woman, who was abducted and raped by Buell inside his home. Buell was serving a 121-year prison term when he went on trial for Krista's murder. A jury convicted him after an 11-day trial and recommended a death sentence.

Through his pastor, the Rev. Ernie Sanders, Buell conceded he stalked and abducted women, but said he "draws the line" when it comes to children. Prosecutors said the evidence of Buell's guilt in Krista's death was overwhelming.

Convicted killer listens to classical music hours before scheduled execution

A convicted killer listened to classical music in his cell hours before his scheduled execution Wednesday as another court refused his request for a delay.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday joined lower courts in deciding not to stop the execution of Robert Buell, whose appeal was based on objections to the hypnotizing of witnesses at his trial.

A handful of protesters were outside the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility on Wednesday.

Tom O'Brien, 38, a graduate student in social work at Case Western Reserve University, said his research convinced him the death penalty is inherently unfair.

"I saw the injustices that were prevalent throughout the system, and said I need to take a stand against it," said O'Brien, who was attending his first death penalty protest.

A state appeals court in Cleveland had wanted more time to consider Buell's appeal but canceled plans for a hearing when the Ohio Supreme Court refused the request. The 8th Ohio District Court of Appeals said it would issue a written ruling.

Prison officials said Buell awoke at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday and had a breakfast of bran flakes and a glass of milk. He spent time listening to the radio in his cell.

Buell was prepared for the worst, said one of his attorneys, Jeffry Kelleher.

Outside the prison, 7 protesters set up posters with the photos of the 4 men executed since 1999, with candles ready to be lighted on the ground. A poster to the side held a picture of the slain girl, Krista Harrison, with a white silk rose attached.

Some were among small groups of death penalty protesters who had gathered Tuesday in Cleveland and Akron, including Kathy Soltis, a member of the Cleveland Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

The number of protesters have shrunk since the state switched to daytime executions, Soltis said.

Also, Buell is a "less sympathetic figure," she said, because the victim was a child and Buell is not mentally ill.

Krista was abducted from a park across the street from where she lived in the village of Marshallville on July 11, 1982, as she collected aluminum cans with a boy. Her body was found 6 days later.

Buell, a former Akron city planner who lived in the nearby town of Clinton, claimed he was innocent and that there was no eyewitness or DNA evidence connecting him to the crime.

He also argued that he could not defend himself properly because prosecutors withheld evidence that witnesses were hypnotized. Buell's lawyers say the hypnosis enhanced or altered the witnesses' memories before they testified.

Prosecutors argued that evidence for his 1984 conviction was overwhelming. It included fibers on Krista's body that matched fibers taken from carpet in Buell's van and blue and tan paint found on men's jeans dumped at the crime scene that matched paint found in Buell's home.

The crime went unsolved for 15 months until a 28-year-old woman who was abducted at gunpoint and raped and tortured at Buell's home escaped and ran to a neighbor's house.

The details of the assault led to his arrest for Krista's death.

Buell pleaded no contest to rape and other charges from the attack on the 28-year-old and the abduction and rape 5 months earlier of a 29-year-old woman. He was sentenced to 121 years in prison for those crimes.

Buell was later named as the chief suspect in the slayings of two other girls and identified by other victims of sexual assault in northeast Ohio.

    Calvin King, 48, 2002-09-25, Texas

A Dallas man with at least 4 other felony convictions was executed today evening for a robbery-slaying in Beaumont during a drug deal while he was on parole.

In a brief final statement, Calvin King muttered, "I want to say God forgives as I forgive and God is the greatest. Thank you."

As the drugs began flowing into his arms, he gurgled and then gasped twice. He was pronounced dead 11 minutes later, at 6:20 p.m. CDT.

A Jefferson County jury deliberated only 30 minutes before deciding King was guilty and deliberated just an hour before voting he should go to death row for the fatal stabbing of Billy Wayne Ezell, 21, more than 8 years ago.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Wednesday to review King's case. 2 justices, John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, favored granting a reprieve.

Relatives described Ezell, from Silsbee, about 20 miles north of Beaumont, as ignorant of the ways of the city and making poor choices by choosing to sell crack cocaine in Beaumont in the days before his death.

"According to one of his buddies and his mom, he was looking at this as an opportunity to make some really good money, really quickly, because he thought that would help him get back together with estranged wife," said Ramon Rodriguez, the Jefferson County assistant district attorney who prosecuted King. "He was just a country boy in over his head.

"People at the hotel said he was flashing cash. It was not surprising somebody took advantage of him."

Evidence showed that somebody was King, a landscaper who had been on parole for about 5 months after serving only 4 years of a 25-year prison term for burglary in Dallas County.

Court records indicated Ezell was lured to a Beaumont motel Feb. 26, 1994 where he was stabbed, beaten and robbed by King and a partner, Leonard Johnson, also of Dallas.

"It was a was a very brutal crime," Rodriguez said this week. "We're talking dozens of stab wounds, and then being bludgeoned with a table lamp."

The lamp cord also was wound around his neck.

Johnson pleaded guilty and received a life prison term. King got a death sentence.

In urging the jury to choose the death penalty, Rodriguez said he pointed out King did not need to kill Ezell.

"All they had to do was rob him," he said.

Testimony showed the pair took cash from Ezell and were seen at home using an oven to dry money they had washed to remove the victim's blood.

King earlier had multiple convictions for theft out of Dallas County in the 1980s before being released on parole or mandatory supervision during a time when Texas prisons were overcrowded and court orders required some inmates to be freed.

"That's how it was back then," Rodriguez said. "That was really frustrating."

King declined repeated requests for interviews with reporters in the weeks preceding his punishment.

On Tuesday, Rex Mays, who worked occasionally as a clown and had dressed as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, was executed for fatally stabbing a pair of Houston girls in 1992.

At least 7 other condemned Texas prisoners have execution dates this year, including 1 next week.

James Powell, 56, is set to die Tuesday for the 1990 abduction of a 10-year-old girl from Beaumont. She was driven to an area near Orange where she was raped and strangled.

King becomes the 28th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 284th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    James Rexford Powell, 56, 2002-10-01, Texas

In Huntsville, a former flea market vendor was executed Tuesday evening for abducting, raping and strangling a 10-year-old Louisiana girl from a Beaumont flea market where her parents also sold items.

James Rexford Powell, 56, had a brief final statement, saying only "I am ready for the final blessing."

Powell smiled, nodded and grinned to friends and relatives who watched through a window a few feet away. He did not acknowledge his victim's father, stepmother and other witnesses for the slain girl.

When Powell asked for the blessing, a priest among his witnesses made the sign of the cross and led Powell's friends and relatives, including his wife, in a prayer.

Powell took several short gasps as the drugs took effect. 8 minutes later, at 6:17 p.m. CDT, he was pronounced dead.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a ruling about 4 hours before Powell's scheduled execution, refused to block the punishment.

Falyssa Van Winkle was with her parents when she disappeared 12 years ago this week after telling them she was going to buy some peanuts.

5 hours later, the Lake Charles, La., girl's body was found 55 miles to the north, face down under a bridge over a muddy creek in Newton County, along the Texas-Louisiana state line.

A rope was tight around her neck. Her wrists were bound with rope. Her ankles bore marks they too had been tied together. She also had been raped.

"Anybody who saw photographs of that little child will never get over that," recalls Charles Mitchell, the former Newton County district attorney and now a state district court judge.

"A crime like that tends to really enrage people," Mitchell said. "It was truly a horrible case."

Powell was arrested Oct. 8, 1990, 2 days after the killing, at his home in Mauriceville, northeast of Beaumont. He knew the girl's parents because he also occasionally was a vendor, talked with them at the flea market in the hour before the girl disappeared and said goodbye to them as he was about to leave.

"They watched him walk to his motor home and then watched him drive away not knowing their little girl was unconscious and tied up in the motor home," said Bill Davis, a Beaumont police sergeant who investigated the case.

A vendor saw Powell near the peanut stand about the time the girl told her mother and stepfather she was headed there. Davis said authorities believed she was lured to the van and was knocked unconscious.

Powell's distinctive vehicle, seen by a witness near the site where the body was found by a couple riding motorcycles, provided police a lead in the case.

"It was a cross between a van and motor home, sort of an enlarged van with a sleeping compartment in the back," Mitchell said. "He had this custom-painted red bird on the side of it."

Detectives tracked down the truck, which a neighbor said Powell had been washing inside, outside and underside the day after the killing. Despite the cleaning, crime scene technicians found dog hair that matched a dog hair discovered on the girl's body and 6 hairs from her. Tire tracks at the scene matched Powell's truck. DNA tests showed sperm in the girl matched Powell.

A jury took about 45 minutes to find him guilty, then deliberated another 45 minutes to decide on the death sentence.

"It is frustrating to me that it's taken 12 long years for us to ultimately reach this state," Davis said. "The evidence hasn't changed. The facts of case haven't changed."

Powell did not testify. He declined to speak with reporters in the weeks before his scheduled execution.

"I was not the one who committed this crime," Powell said in a letter last year to The Associated Press.

Disputing the accuracy of the trial evidence against him, he added, "It's not only the 'poor, abused, black man' that gets screwed, sometimes it's us 'poor, old, white folks' who get shafted too."

Powell had no previous convictions. He was arrested in 1984, tried and acquitted by a jury in Beauregard Parish, La., on charges of attempted murder, attempted aggravated rape and aggravated burglary for beating and shooting a woman at her home in Merryville, just east of the Sabine River in Louisiana.

Despite objections from Powell's lawyers, the victim in that case was allowed to testify against him at the punishment phase of his murder trial, identifying him as her attacker.

"He'd gotten away with that deal in Louisiana and I'm fully convinced he thought he would get away this," Mitchell said. "He was really a bad actor, a truly evil person."

Powell becomes the 29th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas, and the 285th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982. There are no more scheduled executions in Texas in October, but 4 are set in November and 2 more are set for December.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Rigoberto Sanchez-Velasco, 43, 2002-10-02, Florida

A man who killed an 11-year-old girl and 2 fellow death row inmates was executed Wednesday after he dropped his appeals and volunteered to die.

Rigoberto Sanchez-Velasco, 43, had been declared competent to make that decision Tuesday after he was examined by 3 state-appointed psychiatrists. He was pronounced dead from lethal injection at 9:39 a.m., said Katie Muniz, spokeswoman for Gov. Jeb Bush.

After the psychiatrists' examination, Bush lifted a stay of execution he had issued one day earlier. Bush had issued stays for Sanchez-Velasco and serial killer Aileen Wuornos when an attorney argued that Wuornos wasn't competent to drop her appeals.

Death penalty opponents said allowing the inmates to drop their appeals is equivalent to state-assisted suicide. Dianne Abshire, a member of the Florida Support Group, which supplies emotional support to Florida death row inmates, has said both Wuornos and Sanchez-Velasco are insane.

The death warrants for Wuornos and Sanchez-Velasco were signed while the state Supreme Court continued to review whether a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in an Arizona case would apply to Florida's 369 death row inmates.

The high court ruled that only juries and not judges can sentence inmates to death. In Florida, juries make a recommendation to the trial judge, who imposed the sentence.

Sanchez-Velasco was visited in the hours before his execution by a brother, 2 nephews and a priest.

"I love you, everybody," Sanchez-Velasco said after he was strapped to the execution table. His mouth trembled slightly before the execution began at 9:31 a.m.

He was sentenced to death in 1988 after confessing to the slaying of Katixa "Kathy" Ecenarro, the 11-year-old daughter of his live-in girlfriend in Hialeah, near Miami. >{? While in prison awaiting execution, Sanchez-Velasco was convicted in the 1995 stabbing deaths of 2 other death row inmates - Edward B. "Mike" Kaprat III and Charles Street.
He was given two 15-year sentences.

A psychiatric exam conducted Tuesday by doctors ruled Sanchez-Velasco "has no major psychiatric illness and understands the nature and effect of the death penalty and why it is being imposed upon him."

Sanchez-Velasco was very calm and answered all the questions put to him by the psychiatrists, said Baya Harrison III, a lawyer appointed to represent the inmate.

"He made it very clear to me that his mind is made up," Harrison said. "He was very coherent. He was cogent. He was courteous. He instructed me not to interfere with his execution."

Sanchez-Velasco had argued in a handwritten filing with the Florida Supreme Court that he was legally convicted and wants to die. "I have killed people repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly, even while being on death row," Sanchez-Velasco wrote.

Sanchez-Velasco, who came to Miami from his native Cuba in the 1980 Mariel boatlift, was the 52nd person executed in Florida since the state resumed executions in 1976 and the 8th to die from lethal injection. Florida has executed 246 inmates since 1924. Wuornos' execution, scheduled for Oct. 9, was temporarily stayed Monday in the wake of allegations by a Fort Lauderdale attorney that Wuornos wasn't competent to drop her appeals.

Wuornos, 46, one of the nation's 1st known female serial killers, was convicted of fatally shooting 6 middle-aged men along Florida highways in 1989 and 1990. Her story has been portrayed in 2 movies, 3 books and an opera.

(source: Associated Press)

    Aileen Wuornos, 46, 2002-10-9, Florida

Serial killer Aileen Wuornos was executed Wednesday, more than a decade after she murdered 6 men along central Florida highways while working as a prostitute.

Wuornos, 46, was pronounced dead from lethal injection at 9:47 a.m. in Florida State Prison near Starke, said Jill Bratina, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jeb Bush.

Wuornos, one of the nation's few female serial killers, had fired her attorneys and dropped her appeals despite lingering questions over her sanity.

Wuornos, 46, spent a decade on Florida's death row. She was sentenced to death 6 times for killing middle-aged men in 1989 and 1990.

Wuornos' death warrant was for her 1st murder victim, Richard Mallory, a Clearwater electronics shop owner whose body was found in 1989 in Volusia County.

During her 1992 murder trial, Wuornos testified that Mallory raped, beat and sodomized her and that she killed him in self-defense. After standing trial for Mallory's death, Wuornos pleaded guilty to 5 other murders in Marion, Pasco and Dixie counties.

For years, Wuornos claimed she shot the men out of self-defense while being raped and sodomized. Later, she recanted her claims, saying she wanted to make peace with God.

"I'm one who seriously hates human life and would kill again," she told the state Supreme Court.

Wuornos also claimed to have killed a 7th man.

Wuornos gave her last media interview to British producer Nick Broomfield, who did a documentary on her in 1993 and is doing another. Her life story has also spawned 2 movies, an opera and several books.

Broomfield said the Tuesday interview was to last an hour, but she stormed out after 35 minutes.

"My conclusion from the interview is, today we are executing someone who is mad. Here is someone who has totally lost her mind," Broomfield said Wednesday outside the prison, where he joined reporters, photographers and death penalty foes and proponents.

Fort Lauderdale lawyer Raag Singhal wrote a letter to the state Supreme Court last month expressing "grave doubts" about Wuornos' mental condition.

Gov. Jeb Bush issued a stay and ordered a mental exam, but lifted the stay last week after 3 psychiatrists who interviewed her concluded that she understood she would die and why she was being executed.

State Attorney John Tanner, who watched psychiatrists interview her for 30 minutes last week, said she was cognizant and lucid. "She knew exactly what she was doing," Tanner said.

Wuornos joined Judy Buenoano as the only women Florida has executed since resuming the death penalty in 1976. 51 men have been executed by Florida during that span.

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected 2 efforts to stop the execution, one from a private attorney in Tampa who expressed "serious concerns" about Wuornos' competency, the other from an Ohio group that wanted to file an appeal on Wuornos' behalf. Billy Nolas, who represented Wuornos in her 1992 trial in Daytona Beach, said she suffered from borderline personality disorder as a result of neglect and sexual abuse as a child. He said she was "the most disturbed individual I have represented."

Wuornos becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Florida, and the 53rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1979.

Wuornos becomes the 56th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 805th overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    William Howard Putman, 59, 2002-11-13, Georgia

William Putman was executed Wednesday for the deaths of a couple sleeping at a south Georgia rest stop 22 years ago.

Putman, 59, was pronounced dead at 7:24 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson, south of Atlanta. It was the state's 8th execution by injection.

Putman declined to make a final statement.When asked, he said, "No, thank you." Asked if he wanted a prayer, he said, "No, No."

Putman had instructed his attorney on Tuesday to drop his final appeals, and spent his last 2 days meeting with 29 family members and friends.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Peggy Chapman described Putman as having been "resigned to his fate," calm and ready to die.

The Pardons and Paroles Board considered and then denied clemency for Putman on Tuesday, even though he didn't seek it, said spokeswoman Heather Hedrick.

Witnesses in Putman's trial said he approached a family sleeping at a rest area off Interstate 75 near Lenox on July 10, 1980. The family was traveling home to Kentucky from a vacation at Daytona Beach, Fla. Putman was found guilty on accounts that he fatally shot the car's driver, David Hardin. Then Putman demanded that his wife, Katie Hardin, leave with him. She refused and screamed for David as he lay dying. Then she was shot in the head.

Police pulled Putman over at another rest area on I-75. He had a blood alcohol level of 0.13, and they found a wallet and a .38-caliber revolver under the driver's seat.

Putman did not close his eyes as the chemicals used for execution went through his system. He looked straight ahead and muttered something unintelligible.

He appeared to be having trouble breathing before the chemicals shut down his lungs.

Putman also was serving a life sentence for killing a school teacher, William Hodges, at a truck stop in Valdosta day before, July 9, 1980.

The execution was witnessed by Shannon Blincoe, daughter of the slain couple, who was in the front seat of the car when her parents were shot. She was 8 months old at the time. 3 older children also were in the car when the shootings took place.

No members of Putman's family attended the execution.

Bob Ellis, a district attorney who worked on the case, said the daughter had told him "My mamma and daddy can finally rest in peace." He said he had stayed in touch with the daughter since the trial.

There were about a dozen anti-death penalty demonstrators outside the prison during the execution.

"Every time we execute somebody it's repeating the violence we're supposed to be against," said Laura Moye, one of the protesters. "The state shouldn't have the power to take human life because it can't give life back when it makes mistakes."

Putman becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Georgia and the 31st overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983. Georgia ranks 6th overall in the number of state executions since the death penalty was re-legalized in America on July 2, 1976, trailing only Texas (285), Virginia (86), Missouri (58), Florida (53) and Oklahoma (52). Virginia has an execution set for Thursday night.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Aimal Khan Kasi, 38, 2002-11-14, Virginia

In Jarratt, a Pakistani who killed 2 CIA employees in a 1993 shooting rampage outside the spy agency's headquarters was executed Thursday as the State Department warned of global retaliation against Americans.

Aimal Khan Kasi, 38, died by injection at the Greensville Correctional Center at 9:07 EST.

"There is no God but Allah," Kasi said, softly chanting in his native tongue until he lost consciousness.

Hours before the execution, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal and Gov. Mark R. Warner denied a request for clemency, saying Kasi has "shown absolutely no remorse for his actions."

Kasi killed CIA communications worker Frank Darling, 28, and CIA analyst and physician Lansing Bennett, 66, as they sat in their cars at a stoplight in McLean. 3 other men -- an engineer, an AT&T employee and a CIA analyst -- were wounded as Kasi walked along a row of stopped cars, shooting into them with a semiautomatic AK-47 rifle.

He fled the country and spent most of the next 4 1/2 years hiding in and around the city of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. He was caught in a hotel while visiting Pakistan and was returned to the United States.

Kasi confessed to the slayings during the return flight, saying he was angry over CIA meddling in Muslim nations.

Security around Greensville was greatly increased, according to a prison source, but not visibly. The only evidence of increased security was 2 correctional officers with shotguns standing on each side of the road near the prison entrance, and several officers with sidearms in front of the prison.

The execution drew heavy media coverage with a dozen television satellite trucks in the prison parking lot more than 3 hours before the execution.

Kasi spent the day in a cell only a few feet from Virginia's death chamber. He met with two of his brothers, his attorneys and his spiritual adviser, corrections spokesman Larry Traylor said. The visit with family members was allowed to be a contact visit so Kasi and his brothers could embrace during their final meetings.

No family members of the victims attended the execution.

Charles R. Burke, one of Kasi's defense attorneys, said his client had remained calm during the day. Burke declined to say what the funeral arrangements were or when the body would be claimed.

Kasi was convicted in November 1997 as Mir Aimal Kasi, but he said that name is erroneous because of a misprint on his visa.

Some Pakistani politicians pleaded with American officials to spare Kasi's life, saying commutation could "win the hearts of millions" and help the United States in its war on terrorism. Hundreds of religious students protested in Pakistan this week, warning Americans there that they will not be safe if Kasi was executed.

Last week, the State Department warned that Kasi's execution could lead to acts of vengeance against Americans everywhere. 2 days after his conviction, assailants shot and killed 4 American oil company workers in Karachi, Pakistan.

Kasi told The Associated Press in an interview last week that he had no regrets about the killings but did not want any retaliation for his execution. Kasi's family near Quetta, Pakistan, also pleaded for calm.

"Kasis are a peaceful tribe. We want peaceful solutions to every problem," said his older brother, Nasibullah Kasi. "We do not want the Kasi name to be used to harm anybody."

The family of Judy Becker-Darling, widow of Frank Darling, also hoped for calm.

"We will spend time in prayer for Kasi, that God will have mercy on his soul, for his family, that there be no terrorism reprisal, and for world peace," the family said in a statement.

CIA Director George J. Tenet said in a statement that "our thoughts" are with the victims of the shooting. "They and their loved ones will always be a part of our agency family," he said.

State Police and other agencies increased security in northern Virginia and around Richmond's Capitol Square.

"Someone with national and even international credentials like this, it mandates that we take extra precautions," said Col. Gerald Massengill, head of the Virginia State Police.

Kasi's family said he would be buried next to his father in a graveyard of fellow tribesman near his hometown of Quetta.

(source: Associated Press)

    Craig Ogan, 47, 2002-11-19, Texas

In Huntsville, defiant to the end, a former federal drug informant who aspired to be a CIA agent was executed Tuesday for killing a Houston police officer 13 years ago. "In killing me, the people responsible have blood on their hands because I am not guilty," Craig Ogan said in a deliberate and firm voice.

He described the details that preceded the officer's death and, as he has in the past, essentially blamed slain Officer James Boswell for the officer's death.

Ogan said Boswell was a "police officer who was out of control." Ogan complained that the courts ignored what he said was evidence of "police and prosecutorial perjury."

Without looking at relatives of the slain officer, who watched through a window a few feet away, he alleged that Boswell was angry and was still suffering from an on-the-job injury months before.

As he paused briefly trying to collect his thoughts, the lethal drugs kicked in and Ogan snorted and coughed. He was pronounced dead at 7:13 p.m. CST, eight minutes after the lethal dose began.

Ogan, 47, from St. Louis, had been in Houston only a few weeks when he fatally shot Boswell the night of Dec. 9, 1989.

"I killed a cop and this is Texas," Ogan said recently from death row, insisting the shooting was in self-defense but acknowledging he had little hope of avoiding lethal injection in the nation's most active death penalty state.

Several dozen police officers and police supporters arrived on motorcycles shortly before Ogan's scheduled execution hour and stood down the street from the prison entrance.

"It's time," said Morgan Gainer, who was Boswell's partner the night of the fatal shooting. "That's all."

"I really don't don't know how to express my feelings," added Sonny Boswell, the officer's father. "I want justice, but I don't want it to sound like revenge."

Boswell said he declined to go inside to watch Ogan die and preferred to be with Gainer and the others, many of them holding pictures of the slain officer.

"I wanted to be outside with his buddies," the father said.

"A lot of people say that in Texas they really use that death penalty a lot," said Larry Standley, one of the prosecutors at Ogan's trial. "But I truly believe if somebody will do that to a cop that quick, just think of what they would do to just anybody else."

The execution was delayed for nearly an hour while the U.S. Supreme Court considered a pair of 11th-hour appeals that questioned Ogan's competency and mental health.

"They're trying to sell me as a nut case," Ogan said of his attorneys' efforts. "I don't appreciate that."

Ogan was fascinated with espionage, spoke several foreign languages and longed for a job with the CIA. He said he was building a track record by working as a confidential informant in St. Louis for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

He moved to Houston in late 1989 because he feared his cover had been exposed. The night of Dec. 9, 1989, he got into an argument with a motel clerk, walked outside and spotted a police car where Boswell and his partner were writing a traffic ticket.

Ogan interrupted the officers repeatedly, citing his DEA connection, and refused their instructions to wait a few minutes. When he persisted and Boswell got out of the patrol car to unlock the back door of the car, the officer was shot in the head. Ogan tried running away but surrendered after he was shot and wounded in the back by Boswell's partner.

Ogan blamed Boswell for the shooting and contended his reaction was in self-defense.

"He went crazy," Ogan said. "This doesn't make sense. I'm pro-police. If I wanted to kill a cop, I could have blown them both off."

Ogan had an "explosive temper and a short fuse," said Standley, now a Harris County judge. "He was just a time bomb, and that's what happened that night."

Ogan contended he was calm, polite and feared for his safety.

"He was my son's judge, jury and executioner in a split second," Martha Boswell, the officer's mother, told the Houston Chronicle.

She noted Ogan had appeals and had sought a reprieve and a commutation.

"As far as mercy -- he showed Jim no mercy. None whatsoever," she said.

A defense psychologist testified at his trial that Ogan suffered from functional paranoia, frequently was anxious, agitated and fearful, and believed the officer was a deadly threat to him.

Jurors didn't buy the self-defense argument, convicting him of capital murder and then deciding he should be put to death.

Ogan had no previous prison record but did acknowledge involvement in drug dealing.

Ogan becomes the 30th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 286 since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982. Ogan becomes the 47th condemned inmate to be executed since Rick Perry became governor in 2001.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    William R. Jones, 2002-11-20, Missouri

A Kansas City man convicted of what prosecutors called a cold-blooded, execution-style killing was put to death early Wednesday.

William R. Jones Jr. died at 12:04 a.m., 3 minutes after the 1st of 3 lethal doses was administered at the Potosi Correctional Center. While on the gurney, Jones lifted his head and faced his family and said, "I love you dad, I love you all."

His wife Gerti blew him a kiss and said "I love you so much" as tears streamed down her face. Jones' fate was sealed late Tuesday when both Gov. Bob Holden and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals claiming Jones' original trial attorneys were inept.

Jones was convicted of 1st-degree murder in the January 1986 death of Stanley Albert, whom he'd met at a Kansas City park frequented by gay men. Jones maintained he shot Albert in self-defense when Albert made unwanted sexual advances.

In a last statement read aloud after the execution, Jones said in a message to Albert's children who were present, he said he regretted what had happened, and their loss but said he did not deserve to die. "I am sorry for what has hapepned and that you suffered this great loss. But after 17 years of my incarceration, does this really give you a sense of closure or simply a sense of vengeance? I pray for you all."

Albert's daughter, Robin Gazi, 32, Kansas City North, said: "We do feel closure. Not vengeance. We feel that 17 years was not long enough. But that justice was served."

Gazi and her brother Chris Albert, 30, said their father missed 2 weddings, 3 births, 2 high school graduations, and grandchildren who did not know him. "We were teenagers just getting to know our father when he died," Gazi said.

One of Jones' attorneys, Charlie Rogers, said Jones' version was supported by his subsequent diagnosis of ego dystonic-homosexuality, a discomfort with one's homosexual inclinations, along with borderline personality disorder.

Patrick Peters, a former Jackson County prosecutor who tried the case, described Jones as a "schmoozer" who lied to his psychiatrist by initially claiming he was straight. Peters said that while Jones claimed to be upset by Albert's sexual advances, Jones was in fact bisexual and living with a male lover.

Peters said Jones plotted the killing after meeting and dating Albert and deciding he wanted his Camaro. He said he shot Albert five times with a .22 caliber gun on Jan. 16, 1986, and left him near the George Owens Nature Center in Independence. Investigators found the body weeks later.

Evidence included bullets and vehicle license plates found in Jones' home, and his purchase of a shovel to bury the body, Peters said.

He said Jones used the "homophobic rage" alibi in a post-conviction hearing when his claim of innocence didn't persuade jurors. "He cold-bloodedly executed this guy," Peters said.

The case has drawn attention in Europe, where opposition to the death penalty is strong, since Jones married an Austrian woman in January 2001. They met over the Internet a year earlier.

Among those who asked Holden for clemency were the Austrian government and the 44-member Council of Europe, which said the execution would violate U.N. human rights resolutions.

The European Parliament, meeting Tuesday in Strasbourg, France, signed and submitted a petition asking Holden to spare Jones' life, according to Laurent David of the France-based Ensemble Contre la Peine de Mort, part of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

Rogers said Jones' trial attorneys didn't make a plea offer in exchange for a lighter sentence, or explore Jones' mental status, his abusive, dysfunctional family, or the brain damage he suffered from an attack by 2 men 5 months prior to the Albert killing.

32 people were outside the corrections center to protest the death penalty. 1 person was there in favor.

Jones becomes the 6th condemned inmate to be put to death this year this year in Missouri and the 59th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1989. Missouri trails only Texas (286) and Virginia (87) in the number of executions since the death penalty was re-legalized in America on July 2, 1976.

(sources: St. Louis Post-Dispatch & Rick Halperin)

    William Wesley Chappell, 66, 2002-11-20, Texas

Bitterly professing his innocence, 66-year-old William Wesley Chappell became the oldest man executed by Texas today for fatally shooting a Fort Worth woman in a revenge spree that also left the woman's parents dead.

"My request to you is to get yourself in church and pray to God he forgives you because you are murdering me," Chappell said.

He angrily insisted he should have had additional DNA tests on evidence and suggested others were responsible for the triple slaying. Chappell also denied molesting a child that authorities said led him to commit the slayings.

"You know damn well I didn't molest that child," he told Jane Sitton, who watched a few feet away through a window. "You all are murdering me and I feel sorry for you. I don't know what else to say. Please go to church and say ...," he said, unable to complete his sentence as the drugs began taking effect.

Chappell was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. CST, 7 minutes after the flow of drugs began. About 45 minutes earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court denied his final appeals.

He also was the oldest convict executed in Texas since the state in 1924 took over capital punishment duties from counties. Of the 361 men electrocuted between then and 1964, Henry Meyer, from Harris County, was the oldest when he was put to death June 8, 1955, at age 65.

Since Texas resumed executions in 1982 with lethal injection, two convicted killers, Betty Lou Beets and Clydell Coleman, were the oldest at 62 when they were put to death.

Authorities believed Chappell missed his intended target, an ex-girlfriend who had moved out fearing for her safety, and was not there the night of May 3, 1988, when he broke into the home and began shooting people with a silencer-equipped gun. Killed were Alexandra Heath, 27; her stepfather, Elbert Sitton, 71; and her mother, Martha Lindsey, 50.

"These people were doing nothing but sleeping in their beds," said Greg Miller, a Tarrant County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Chappell. "This is a guy the death penalty was designed for, in my opinion."

A year before the Fort Worth killings, Chappell was convicted of indecency with a child for molesting the 3-year-old daughter of Heath's half-sister, Jane Sitton, and received a 5-year prison term. He was free on bond, however, pending appeal.

"We believe the person he intended to kill that night was that little girl's mother," Miller said. "We think he thought he was killing Jane Sitton but obviously he killed Alexandra Heath, her sister.

"Regardless of who he killed, it's a bad deal all around."

"I think putting him to death is more of a protection to society than anything else," Sitton, now 38, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "If anyone should be put to death, I guess it should be him."

Chappell, who refused to speak with reporters in the weeks preceding his scheduled punishment, had warned Lindsey outside the courtroom after the indecency trial that, "It wasn't over yet." Court records showed he also said he wanted to "do away" with the Lindsey-Sitton family.

Testimony at his capital murder trial showed he tried to burn down their house in January 1988, only to discover later damage was minimal and no one was hurt. Jane Sitton said that's when she decided to move out. Heath took her room.

Chappell's then-wife, Sally Hayes, testifying against Chappell in exchange for a probated sentence, said he had been working on a gun silencer, that she dropped him off at the house the night of May 3, 1988, that when she picked him up he said he had "shot Jane, her mother and her daddy," and that he said he had taken some money to make the shootings look like a robbery.

The couple fled to Tennessee where Chappell learned it was Alexandra Heath who was among those killed, not Jane Sitton.

Heath was shot several times and was dead at the scene. Lindsey died 2 days later. Elbert Sitton survived for 2 months before dying of his wounds. He told an emergency room physician the gunman was the man who had raped a family member.

Chappell's 1st capital murder conviction was thrown out by an appeals court, which ruled his jury was selected improperly. A 1nd trial was stopped by a mistrial. In 1996, at his 3rd trial, a jury again convicted him and decided he should be put to death.

Chappell becomes the 31st condemned inmate to be put to death in Texas this year and the 287th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982. Chappell becomes the 48th condemned inmate to be put to death during the tenure of Rick Perry as Governor.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Leonard Uresti Rojas, 52, 2002-12-04, Texas

In Huntsville, a South Texas man who confessed to killing his common-law wife and brother, whom he suspected of having an affair, was executed today.

Leonard Rojas, 52, was asked by the warden if he had a final statement.

Rojas, wearing a white collared shirt that partially exposed his chest, responded "No."

As the lethal drugs began flowing, Rojas' eyes blinked and he pursed his lips. He took 2 deeps breaths, then his mouth fell open and his eyes shut tightly.

He was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. CST, 8 minutes after receiving the lethal injection.

3 of Rojas' 7 surviving brothers watched the execution. Rojas' cousin, Maria Rojas, stood at the window looking into the death chamber.

Soon after Rojas took his final gasp, she whispered "He's gone."

Leonard Rojas said recently he had no regrets about shooting Jo Ann Reed between the eyes after having one last sexual encounter with her and then turning the gun on his younger brother David Rojas.

"I'll never regret it. Never," he said of the 1994 killings. "These people, they were just basically evil. They just wanted my money, wanted my drugs and they wanted to do me in."

Rojas, who had spent time in prison in California and Nevada for drug convictions, claimed the 2 were having an affair and attempting to drug him to death. Those claims never were proven, said Johnson County assistant district attorney David Vernon.

"Leonard was an extremely possessive type of person," Vernon said. "He confronted her about having sex with his brother and she laughs at him."

Rojas said he recalled seeing his wife leave his brother's room that morning.

"'You can't prove nothing, Leo,'" Rojas recalled her saying. "They just put me in the corner and I just snapped."

Rojas said he used a 32-caiber gun he got in exchange for cocaine to shoot his 34-year-old wife, then his 43-year-old brother. The slayings took place in the mobile home the trio shared in Alvarado, near Forth Worth.

"I just said no more abuse from these people," Rojas said. "The alternative I came out with was to get even with them."

After the killing, Vernon said Rojas drank some coffee, talked on the phone and then decided to leave. He bought a bus ticket from Fort Worth to Atlanta, Ga., making it as far as Dallas before he came across some security guards and decided to confess.

"My heart was beating and my brain was like fried after all these incidents," Rojas said.

Vernon doesn't know why Rojas confessed. His only guess is that Rojas' drug use could have made him paranoid.

"It would have taken us years to find him if he had gotten on that bus and taken off," Vernon said.

Instead, Johnson County prosecutors ended up with three confessions, one of which was videotaped as Rojas led Texas Ranger George Turner and a sheriff's deputy through the mobile home describing the killings.

The videotape confession "became Exhibit A," Turner said.

"He was the first one that I had ever had walk me through a crime scene on video," Turner said.

Rojas was sentenced to death in 1996. Vernon said prosecutors didn't have to do much to get the conviction.

"I'm guilty. I'm a sinner. I'm ready to go if they're going to kill me," Rojas said last month.

Rojas had said he was prepared to die in the month leading up to his execution.

"At least he's not crying about it," said Turner, the Texas Ranger who took his confession. "He is stepping up to the plate like he always did. He was a pretty pleasant ol' boy -- the crime aside."

Rojas becomes the 32nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 288th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Ernest Basden, 49,2002-12-06, North Carolina

In Raleigh, a man who killed a North Carolina insurance agent a decade ago as part of a murder-for-hire scheme was executed by injection early Friday.

Ernest Basden, 49, was put to death hours after Gov. Mike Easley denied his request for clemency, despite pleas from relatives and defense lawyers to spare his life. Basden was convicted of shooting Billy White to death in 1992.

In an interview Tuesday, Basden said he was sorry for what he had done. He said he had become a Christian after being locked up, was a leader in prison services and believed he could help other prisoners if his life was spared.

"I'm very sorry for their loss," Basden said of White's family. "If there was any way at all I could undo it I surely would."

Authorities said White's wife paid to have her husband murdered. The insurance agent was killed when his wife, Basden and Basden's nephew lured him to a deserted Jones County logging road, authorities say. Basden shot White twice with a shotgun.

Basden becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in North Carolina and the 22nd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1984.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Linroy Bottoson, 2002-12-09, Florida

Linroy Bottoson, an inmate who believed he was locked in a battle between Satan and Jesus Christ, was executed Monday for the kidnapping, robbery and slaying of the Eatonville postmistress 23 years ago.

Bottoson died at 5:12 p.m. for the Oct. 26, 1979, murder of Catherine Alexander, who was robbed, held captive for 83 hours, stabbed 16 times and then fatally crushed by a car.

The execution came two hours after Circuit Judge Anthony H. Johnson of Orlando ruled Bottoson competent. The Florida Supreme Court rejected an appeal of Johnson's ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court also rejected an appeal Monday that argued Bottoson was mentally retarded.

In his ruling, Johnson agreed with state psychiatrists who found that Bottoson understood that he was about to die and the reasons for his execution, two requirements under Florida law.

Dr. Wade Myers, a state psychologist, testified Monday in Orlando that while Bottoson sometimes hears God and believes if he were to stand at Alexander's grave God would resurrect her, that does not mean Bottoson is mentally ill.

"There are evangelists every Sunday who have large viewerships who say they're also receiving the same messages from God," Myers said. "I think when you begin to label fundamental Christian beliefs as psychosis, it's not justified."

But a clinical psychologist hired by Bottoson's lawyers issued a report saying he is insane.

"Mr. Bottoson's chronic mental illness renders him unable to rationally and factually understand and appreciate the reason the State of Florida is seeking his execution and unable to factually comprehend that his death will in fact occur," psychologist Xavier Amador wrote after meeting with him last week.

"He understands himself to be locked in the middle of a battle between Jesus and Satan, a battle he is certain, as one of God's prophets, Jesus will win."

Court documents show that Bottoson's mother was obsessed with religion and forced Bottoson to constantly read the Bible, pray, and preach from street corners from the time he was seven to 9 years of age.

In the summer of 1962, Bottoson attempted suicide in his church. He was taken to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with an acute schizophrenic episode.

Bottoson kidnapped Alexander, robbing her post office of $144 and 37 money orders worth $400 each. The 74-year-old woman was held captive for 3 days -- some of that time in a car trunk -- before Bottoson killed her.

Bottoson was arrested after his wife tried to cash one of the money orders. Alexander's shoes and the knife apparently used to stab her were found in Bottoson's house.

Bottoson is not the 1st person executed in Florida who was alleged to be incompetent.

In June 2000, Thomas Provenzano was executed although he believed he was Jesus Christ. Provenzano, 51, was executed for the murder of William "Arnie" Wilkerson, 1 of 3 bailiffs shot in 1984 when the unemployed electrician opened fire. The other 2 bailiffs were paralyzed; one has since died.

Florida has executed 2 others inmates this year, both of them in October.

Since Florida reimposed the death penalty in 1976, 53 inmates have been executed. A total of 250 have died since the state took over executions from the counties in 1924, including a federal inmate who died in the electric chair for murder on the high seas.

Bottoson becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Florida and the 54th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1979. Florida trails only Texas (288), Virginia (87) and Missouri (59) in the numbers of executions in America since the United States Supreme Court re-legalized the death penalty, on July 2, 1976.

(sources: Orlando Sentinel & Rick Halperin)

    Desmond Carter, 2002-12-10, North Carolina

The state executed confessed murderer Desmond Carter of Eden at 2:17 a.m today, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected last-minute legal appeals and Gov. Mike Easley denied him clemency Monday night.

Carter's execution by lethal injection at Central Prison in Raleigh came after a weeklong flurry of legal appeals, including 2 Monday to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied both. One trial judge stayed Carter's execution last Wednesday, but the state Supreme Court lifted the stay Friday. Another trial judge rejected a different plea from Carter's lawyers Friday.

Easley announced his decision to let the execution go forward shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Carter's final appeal, about four hours before the scheduled execution.

"Having carefully reviewed the clemency petition, I conclude that there are no compelling reasons to invalidate the sentence recommended by the jury and affirmed by the courts," Easley said in a written statement issued at 10 p.m.

In his final statement, Carter said: "The only thing I wold like to say is that I apologize to the victim's family of Ms. Purdy and I would like to apologize to my family for the disappointment and pain that I have caused them throughout my life."

In 1992, Carter stabbed to death Helen Moore Purdy, his 71-year-old next-door neighbor in Eden, when she refused to lend him $5 to buy drugs.
He then stole $15. The next year, a jury convicted him of first-degree murder and sentenced him to die.

2 state and two federal courts have ruled that Carter, 35, had a fair trial and sentencing. There is no question of his guilt.

Easley has rejected 7 clemency requests and granted 2 since becoming governor.

Carter visited Monday with his lawyers and his father, brother, daughter, grandmother and aunt, prison officials said.

Carter didn't ask for anything special for his last meal.

It was a grim day for the confessed murderer and robber, who last week thought he had won a substantial reprieve.

Durham Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson, who stayed Carter's execution Wednesday, also had set a hearing for January to consider claims that racial bias affects state capital punishment, that Carter's trial lawyers were unqualified and that his indictment and evidence of aggravating factors at his sentencing were improper. Carter is black; his victim was white.

The state Supreme Court did not say why it lifted the stay Friday. Its order also prohibited the planned evidentiary hearing.

In one of Carter's appeals Monday to the U.S. Supreme Court, his lawyers asked for a review of the case on three issues: alleged racial bias in the death penalty generally, the prosecutor's lack of discretion at the time of Carter's conviction to seek a life term in prison for first-degree murder, and the fact that the state's indictment form doesn't list all charge elements.

In Carter's other appeal to the nation's high court, his lawyers argued that biblical teachings were discussed improperly during jury deliberations.

Lawyers for the state opposed all of Carter's appeals.

"The evidence at trial showed that Mrs. Purdy had been brutally stabbed or cut with a butcher knife at least 13 times, and that Carter eventually confessed to the murder and robbery," said a state brief to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Carter's lawyers had hoped not only to save his life but also to introduce alleged evidence of widespread racial bias in capital sentencing that could have helped many other inmates on death row.

They based their claim on two recent UNC-Chapel Hill statistical studies that state lawyers have criticized as irrelevant and unconfirmed by other scholars.

The group Amnesty International, which opposes capital punishment, criticized the state for scheduling Carter's execution on International Human Rights Day.

Carter becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death in North Carolina this year and the 23rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1984.

(sources: News & Observer, & Rick Halperin)

    Jerry Lynn McCracken, 35, 2002-12-10, Oklahoma

In McAlester, an Army veteran who killed 4 people during a 1990 robbery at a Tulsa nightclub was executed Tuesday.

Jerry Lynn McCracken, 35, was pronounced dead at 6:06 p.m. after receiving an injection of drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

McCracken was convicted of 4 counts of 1st-degree murder and sentenced to die for the shooting deaths of Steve Allen Smith, 34, Tyrrell Lee Boyd, 27, Timothy Edward Sheets, 39, and Carol Ann McDaniels, 41, at the New Ferndale Lounge on Oct. 14, 1990.

Each of the victims was shot with a .22-caliber pistol during a robbery at the bar in which $350 was taken.

A co-defendant, David Keith Lawrence, pleaded guilty and received a sentence of life in prison plus 20 years in exchange for his testimony against McCracken.

No members of the victims' families witnessed the execution.

At his trial, McCracken blamed Lawrence for the murders. "I am not the one who pulled the trigger," McCracken told a jury in September 1991.

But McCracken changed his story and admitted he was the triggerman in an interview published by the Tulsa World last year.

"I am guilty. I have no excuse," said McCracken. "I am ready to die." McCracken was on pre-parole release from prison for a series of knife assaults when the murders occurred.

The state Pardon and Parole Board rejected clemency for McCracken at a hearing last month where he apologized to Lawrence for talking him into helping with the robbery.

McCracken's execution went forward after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-minute bid to stay the execution.

Issues raised in McCracken's federal appeals included ineffective counsel, aggravating evidence used to support the death penalty and defective jury instructions in which a judge said McCracken was presumed "not guilty" instead of presumed innocent.

The instruction was not objected to at trial, but the state Court of Criminal Appeals granted automatic reversals to defendants who did, according to documents filed by McCracken's attorney, David Autry.

Autry argued that McCracken was a candidate for clemency because he suffered from personality disorders and had a predisposition to alcoholism and substance abuse. Autry said McCracken was "heavily intoxicated" when the murders occurred.

While on death row, McCracken devoted himself to his Christian faith and corresponded with a variety of prison ministries. At his clemency hearing, McCracken said he promised God he would not cut his hair, which hangs past his shoulders and mingles with a long beard.

2 other death row inmates are scheduled to die this month: Comanche County killer Jay Wesley Neill is scheduled to die on Thursday and Oklahoma County killer Ernest Melvin Carter Jr. is scheduled to die on Dec. 17.

Gov. Frank Keating is considering a recommendation by the Pardon and Parole Board that Carter be granted clemency.

McCracken becomes the 5th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma, and the 53rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    James Collier, 55, 2002-12-11, Texas

A Wichita Falls man who insisted on defending himself during his 1996 capital murder trial for the shooting deaths of a woman and her son was executed in the Texas death chamber today.

James Collier's court-appointed attorney, prosecutors and the judge unsuccessfully attempted to dissuade him from representing himself.

"He is one of the more difficult individuals I have ever dealt with largely because he is so stubborn," defense attorney John Curry said. "He wanted what he wanted and wouldn't listen to anything else."

After Collier was deemed competent to defend himself, Curry said he was left with no choice but to sit and watch along with jurors as Collier questioned witnesses, fell victim to legal snafus and made the daughter he had gone to kidnap on the day of the shootings recoil in the witness chair as he approached her, the public defender said.

"It was horrible," Curry recalled. "He couldn't have done anything more to get himself on death row than he did, short of threatening the judge and the jury."

In what authorities believed was an attempted kidnapping of his 13-year-old daughter, Collier went into the home of the girl's stepfather, Phillip Hoepfner, with a shotgun on March 14, 1995 after seeing her standing outside earlier in the day.

The girl, who had moved to Oklahoma with Collier's ex-wife, was in Wichita Falls visiting Hoepfner for spring break, Wichita County District Attorney Barry Macha said.

"He could not understand why she would prefer the stepfather over him," said Curry, who added Collier wanted to have a close relationship with his daughter but hadn't spent much time with her.

Collier fired his 1st shots through the glass storm door on Hoepfner's home and then entered, killing Timothy Don Reed, 31, who lived there with Hoepfner, and also Reed's mother, Gwendolyn, 51. Collier didn't know either of the victims he confessed to killing after police caught him in New Mexico.

Collier, who describes himself as a mentally ill "child in a man's body," said he wanted to be found innocent and decided to defend himself when Curry told him the best he could hope for was a life sentence.

"I didn't know nothing about law, except I watched `Perry Mason' with the kids," Collier, 56, said recently from death row. "That was my whole schooling as far as courtroom tactics."

Jurors took 12 minutes to sentence Collier to death for the fatal shootings.

The U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in June that executing the mentally retarded is unconstitutional, refused to block Collier's execution Wednesday. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens dissented.

An IQ of 70 is generally considered the threshold for retardation.

Macha said Collier exceeds that threshold with an IQ somewhere in the range of 78 to 91, according to a neuropsychologist who testified at his trial.

"James Paul Collier certainly is an example of where the death penalty is appropriate given the horrific facts in this case and his background," he said. "He is a violent person and has no regard for other people and their rights."

Collier says he had a bad reputation prior to the shootings.

"Back when I was young, I got into a lot of trouble because I had all those disorders," he said. "Most of my trouble was caused by other people, not something I did."

During the punishment phase of Collier's trial, jurors heard about two 1970 narcotics convictions, a 1971 robbery conviction, a 1987 assault conviction and a 1995 driving while intoxicated arrest during which authorities said they found a 12-gauge sawed-off shotgun in Collier's car.

"The DA made it look like I was some kind of notorious criminal," Collier said, "but most of that stuff wasn't nothing but minor stuff."

Collier becomes the 33rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas, and the 289th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.

At least 14 executions in Texas are already scheduled in the 1st 3 months of 2003.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Jessie Derrell Williams, 51, 2002-12-11, Mississippi

Jessie Derrell Williams was put to death by lethal injection Wednesday for the 1983 rape and mutilation murder of an 18-year-old Jackson County woman.

Williams met with his spiritual adviser and changed into a red jumpsuit before being led into the death chamber at the Mississippi penitentiary. He was pronounced dead at 6:42 p.m.

Williams, 51, was convicted and sentenced to death for slashing the throat of Karon Ann Pierce, then mutilating her body.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Williams' last-minute appeal 2 hours before his execution.

Prison spokesman Ken Jones said Williams declined to take a sedative, telling officials, "I say 'no' to drugs."

A dozen people protested outside the prison gates, while about 60 people protested outside the governor's mansion in Jackson.

Williams visited with six family members, including his mother and sister, in the hours before his execution. He had been allowed to make collect calls since Tuesday but chose not to make any.

He did not request a final meal and refused to eat breakfast or lunch.

Williams becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Mississippi, and the 6th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Jay Wesley Neill, 37, 2002-12-12, Oklahoma

In McAlester, Jay Wesley Neill, who killed 4 people in one of Oklahoma's deadliest bank robberies, was put to death in Oklahoma on Thursday.

Neill, 37, was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

Neill was executed for fatally stabbing 3 employees and fatally shooting a customer of the First Chattanooga Bank branch in Geronimo.

He wounded 3 others before the Dec. 14, 1984, robbery was over.

For Janie Bowles, whose 19-year-old daughter, Jeri, was killed that day, justice can't come soon enough.

"It's about damn time," Bowles said. "They die so easily and it's not fair."

Bowles' daughter was one of 3 women who were stabbed more than 15 times each and their throats cut during the robbery.

"This is how my grandchildren will remember their aunt," Bowles said.

Jeri Bowles, described by her mother as caring and nurturing, was called into work early the day of the robbery. Her father Calvin Bowles, had just dropped her off when Neill entered the bank and herded the 3 female employees into the back room of the bank.

He then stabbed them with a hunting knife, cutting so deep that Neill severed the ribs of his victims, court documents show.

Jeri Bowles was stabbed 14 times and her throat was cut. Kay Bruno, 42, the manager of the bank, was stabbed 34 times and her throat was cut. Joyce Mullenix, 25, who was 6 months pregnant, was stabbed 27 times and nearly decapitated.

Neill forced customers who trickled in after the robbery to get down on the floor next to the women and then he shot at them. He killed Robert Zeller, 33, but Bellen Robles, 15, Ruben Robles, 20, and Marilyn Roach 24, recovered from their wounds.

The crime rocked Geronimo, a town of about 960 near Lawton in southwestern Oklahoma. More than 1,700 people attended Jeri Bowles' funeral, which was held in the town's high school gym.

In March 1986, Neill appeared on the religious program "The 700 Club," confessing to the crime and asking for forgiveness.

"I've yet to come up with something that I know will make it easier for any of you," Neill told victim's family members as he testified in his 1992 trial. "I am sorry. It's eating me and I believe that's been part of my punishment. I just wish there was something I could say to make it better but there's not."

Neill becomes the 6th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma, and the 54th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.

Oklahoma is now tied with Florida for the 4th highest amount of executions in the USA since the death penalty was re-legalized, on July 2, 1976. Only Texas (289), Virginia (87) and Missouri (59) have executed more condemned inmates since 1976. Oklahoma has 2 more executions scheduled for next week, and 1 in January 2003.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Anthony Keith Johnson, 46, 2002-12-12

In Atmore, a man condemned for his role in the 1984 shooting death of a jeweler became the 1st Alabama inmate executed by injection Thursday evening.

Anthony Johnson, who was not the triggerman in the robbery, was put to death despite pleas from some investigators that it be halted to help solve the crime. His appeals were rejected by the governor and U.S. Supreme Court hours before his scheduled execution.

Johnson, 46, did not give a final statement. He acknowledged the presence of his pastor and a friend in the witness room and told the warden, "They know I love them."

The Alabama Supreme Court on Friday dismissed Johnson's petition to halt the execution.

Johnson has provided key information to police and could be a prosecution witness against other suspects if the case were ever reopened, his attorney said. But the state moved ahead with its plans to execute him for the slaying of Kenneth Cantrell.

Johnson and 2 other men entered Cantrell's home during a robbery on March 11, 1984. Police concluded another man fired the shot that killed Cantrell. Johnson was later arrested after seeking treatment for a bullet wound.

Lethal injection became Alabama's primary method of execution under a law passed earlier this year, leaving only Nebraska with the chair as the sole means to execute condemned inmates. Alabama's electric chair, known as "Yellow Mama" for its color, has been used since 1927. It was last used in May.

The original investigators in the March 11, 1984, slaying of Hartselle jeweler Kenneth Cantrell had said that, if spared execution, Johnson could help bring his cohorts to justice.

No one else has been prosecuted, but the district attorney said Johnson's uncorroborated testimony would not have been be sufficient to bring charges. Johnson's lawyer has said he gave police the names of the other people involved in the slaying.

Johnson becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Alabama and the 25th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.

(sources: Associated Press, Dothan Eagle & Rick Halperin)

    Earnest Marvin Carter Jr., 36, 2002-12-17

In McAlester, a man convicted of firing a fatal shot into a night watchman's head so he could steal a $500 tow truck was executed Tuesday night in Oklahoma's death chamber.

Carter died at 6:14 p.m. for the 1990 murder of Eugene Manowski, a father of 6 who was working the graveyard shift at a northwest Oklahoma City auction.

Carter's attorneys failed at a last-ditch plea for his life after Gov. Frank Keating denied the convicted killer clemency. They sent the governor a letter Monday asking him to reconsider last month's unanimous recommendation from the state Pardon and Parole Board to spare Carter's life.

It was the 1st time in more than 50 years that the board voted unanimously to recommend clemency for a condemned inmate and the 4th time the board recommended clemency since Keating took office in 1995.

Keating has rejected all but one of those recommendations.

Carter, who had been fired from the auction for sleeping on the job, crawled through a hole in a fence, cut the lights to the guard shack and killed Manowski so he could steal a wrecker, court records say.

His co-defendant, Charles Summers, was sentenced to life in prison.

Summers' girlfriend testified that she drove with the men from Chandler to Oklahoma City the night of the murder and that Carter got out of the car near the auto auction. She claims he came to their home sometime in the middle of the night, saying he had killed a man and the tow truck he stole had broken down on the way back to Chandler.

Carter and Summers towed the truck, repainted it and eventually burned it.

Another trial witness, Larry Denson, told jurors Carter told him he "offed" a man so he could steal the wrecker. The governor had state agents interview Denson again before deciding against clemency Sunday.

Other evidence linking Carter to the murder included muddy footprints at the auto auction that were similar to boots he wore when he was arrested.
Also, investigators found .38-caliber shells in Carter's trunk and the guard shack where Manowski was murdered.

Defense attorney Gary Chubbuck said the case against Carter was circumstantial and did not meet the governor's standard of "moral certainty."

Death penalty opponents asked Keating to reconsider at a rally Tuesday outside the governor's Capitol office.

"Mr. Carter is about to be killed by our hands and it shouldn't happen," said Rita Newton, director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches.

Carter, 36, has maintained his innocence the last 12 years. He claims he found out about the stolen wrecker when he went to work at Summers' body shop the next morning.

His last appeal was denied at 3 p.m. At noon, prison guards served Carter, 1 of 106 Oklahoma death row inmates, his last meal.

Carter becomes the 7th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma, and the 55th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990. Only Texas (289), Virginia (87), and Missouri (59) have executed more condemned inmates than Oklahoma since the death penalty was re-legalized in America, on July 2, 1976.

Carter becomes the 71st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA, and the 820th overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977. There are no more executions scheduled this year in the USA.

The 71 executions are 5 more than occurred last year in America, but still far short of the modern-era record of 98 in 1999. Only the years 2000 and 1997 had more executions than this year, with 85 and 74, respectively, thus making this year the 4th-deadliest year for America's death chambers.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)