Death Penalty and Death Row in USA

Fight the Death
Penalty in USA


Information about individuals executed Apr-June 2001


     Ronald Wayne Frye, 42, 2001-08-31, North Carolina

An inmate who had said his attorney bungled his defense because he drank too much was executed early Friday for the 1993 stabbing death and robbery of his landlord.
Ronald Wayne Frye, 42, was put to death by injection at the Central Prison after the governor denied his request for clemency.
"While I recognize that there is a question about the effectiveness at trial of one of the 2 defense attorneys, state and federal courts have carefully reviewed and unanimously rejected this claim," Gov. Mike Easley said in a statement Thursday.
Frye had also appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied his request for a stay earlier this week.
In Frye's petition, former defense lawyer Ted Cummings Jr. said he didn't pay attention to the trial and should have intervened to help the other lawyer, who admitted he drank heavily in the evenings after court.
Cummings said in an affidavit that he handled the first phase of the trial and that attorney Tom Portwood handled the sentencing phase, where the jury decided between a death sentence and life in prison.
Cummings now admits he was "negligent in not supervising what Tom Portwood was doing," said one of Frye's new attorneys, Marilyn Ozer. "He admits he delegated and now he's saying he himself didn't provide effective assistance of counsel."
Frye had argued that had his attorneys done their jobs, the jury would have heard mitigating evidence that could help explain Fye's behavior and substance abuse. Frye and his brother were given away to strangers when Frye was 4 and their new father routinely hit them with a bullwhip.
The landlord, Ralph Childress, 70, was found in his rural Catawba County home with scissors jammed into his heart and his throat cut.
Prosecutor Jason Parker has said Portwood provided a good defense for Frye, who wouldn't let some of the childhood evidence be used. The defense said Portwood could have presented it through other avenues, such as public records.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper told the Supreme Court there was no reason to halt Frye's execution, and said the defense contentions were fluff.
Frye becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in North Carolina and the 19th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1984.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     James Ray Knox, 50, 2001-09-18, Texas

A paroled robber from Alabama was executed tonight for gunning down a pharmacist who had refused to surrender drugs during a holdup at his store in Galveston nearly 19 years ago.
Asked if he had a final statement, James Ray Knox replied, "No, I'm ready. I'm ready."
Knox nodded and smiled to 5 friends he selected as witnesses but appeared to make no eye contact with members of his victim's family who watched through a window a few feet away.
As the drugs began taking effect, he gasped about 6 times, each one weaker. He was pronounced dead at 6:28 p.m., 8 minutes after the lethal dose began.
Knox was condemned for the 1982 shooting death of Joe Sanchez, 39. He was arrested some 2 years after the slaying and was tried twice for capital murder after his initial conviction was thrown out on appeal because of an improper jury instruction from a judge.
A late appeal contending his trial lawyers and earlier appeals attorneys were ineffective was dismissed Monday by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Knox refused to be interviewed by reporters in recent weeks and did not seek clemency from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.
Gov. Rick Perry, using his authority to issue a 1-time 30-day reprieve, halted an execution a week ago because the availability of U.S. Supreme Court justices was uncertain after the terrorist attack on Washington.
With the nation's capital returning to normal, Perry's intervention was not anticipated.
Knox was an Etawah County, Ala., native and worked as a drywall finisher.
Witnesses at his trials told of him bragging about committing other robberies and shootings and of participating in a lynching.
Prosecutors said there was evidence he was a white supremacist.
"Evil man, evil man," Jim James, who was one of the prosecutors at Knox's first trial in 1985, said this week. "Never any sign of remorse. He just looked like he thought it was all a joke."
"He was dangerous cold-blooded killer, no question about it," added Larry Drosnes, a Galveston County assistant district attorney involved in the 2nd trial in 1994.
Drosnes said prosecutors offered Knox a life prison term at both trials and he rejected the plea bargain both times.
"He thought, and I'm convinced at the 2nd trial, that we could never prove the case again," Drosnes said. "He was surprised."
Knox already was on parole after serving 2 years of a 12-year term for robbing a drug store in Alabama when he walked into Joe's Pharmacy in Galveston about 5:30 p.m. Nov. 10, 1982. Pulling a pistol, he demanded money and drugs from Sanchez and a co-worker. When Sanchez protested, he was shot in the heart. The gunman fled with about $15 and four bottles of Demerol, a pain suppressant.
"The man got ignorant with me so I had to shoot him," Knox told an accomplice who was waiting outside in a car, according to testimony at his trial.
"No struggle, no nothing," James, the former prosecutor, said. "He got the drugs and: Boom! The accomplice said it wasn't any big deal, that he (Knox) had robbed somebody in Alabama who put the finger on him and he wasn't going to let that happen again."
Sanchez died about an hour later.
"I remember it every day," Joey Sanchez, who was 12 when he lost his father in the 1982 attack, told The Galveston County Daily News. "I remember I was trying out for the basketball team and I was waiting for him to come home and play basketball with me.
"He never came home."
Knox and the accomplice, George Holland, were arrested 2 years later in Birmingham, Ala. When police there notified other law enforcement agencies about pharmacy holdups, Galveston authorities tied the pair to the Sanchez slaying. Holland later testified against Knox.
Knox becomes the 13th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas this year and the 252nd overall since Texas resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.
(sources: Houston Chronicle and Rick Halperin)

     Michael Roberts, 27, 2001-10-03, Missouri

Executed Missouri inmate said he was ready for death

Michael Roberts, convicted of beating to death a suburban St. Louis grandmother with a hammer and stealing her money to buy crack cocaine, was executed early Wednesday.
Roberts, 27, died at 12:05 a.m. at the Potosi Correctional Center, 4 minutes after the 1st of 3 lethal doses was administered.
Roberts' fate was sealed late Tuesday when the U.S. Supreme Court and Gov. Bob Holden refused to halt the execution. The inmate spent his final day meeting with 2 nuns, who were his spiritual advisors, his mother and a mortician, and watching a Kevin Bacon movie, "Hollow Man."
"I'm not anxious about anything," Roberts said by telephone Tuesday morning, convinced he was heaven-bound with spiritual forgiveness for the 1994 killing of Mary Taylor. "I'm just letting things happen as they happen."
A day after declaring "I want to be executed. I'm ready to go," Roberts told The Associated Press he loathed any prospect of spending life behind bars.
In interviews this week, Roberts refused to discuss the killing, aside from calling it a "spontaneous" byproduct of a 2-week bender on everything from cocaine to PCP and marijuana by a 6-foot man who weighed about 350 pounds at the time, 426 pounds now.
According to his confession and court records, Roberts went to Taylor's home the night of Feb. 16, 1994, after he and friends ran out of crack cocaine and money. Roberts watched "Unsolved Mysteries" with the 56-year-old nursing home activities director.
When Taylor asked Roberts to leave so she could sleep, Roberts hit her 19 times with a hammer, kicked her in the head and side, tightened a telephone cord around her neck, stabbed her with steak and butcher knives and immersed her face in a pot of water.
Roberts stole more than $200 he and his friends spent on more crack cocaine. He returned to Taylor's house to steal more valuables and her car, then later to report finding the body.
At trial, Roberts' defenders asked for his life to be spared, citing his troubled, poor upbringing they said included mental, physical and sexual abuse by his father and years of untreated mental illness. Roberts has argued that mental illness made him impulsive and moody, impairing his judgment.
"There hasn't been a day that's passed that I don't remorse over the death of Mary Taylor," he said Tuesday. "I haven't been able to sleep right since they read me the death warrant Sept. 9."
In recent weeks, he said, he plied himself with caffeinated soft drinks and coffee, "wanting to stay up and do as much as I can until they put me to sleep." In Tuesday's wee hours, he tried to call penpals and channel surfed, at one point flipping between "Coach" and "CHiPs" -- to him, "just what was the most appeasing at the time."
Roberts had hoped to watch any of several other videos Tuesday, including "Star Trek" movies, "Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" starring Jim Carrey, or the grouchy green fairy-tale "Shrek." But the prison, he said, told him those videos weren't available.
"I'll just let them surprise me with the rest," he said.
Roberts becomes the 6th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Missouri, and the 52nd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1989.
Missouri now ranks 3rd in executions, trailing only Texas (252) and Virginia (82). Florida is now 4th, 1 behind Missouri.
(sources: St. Louis Post-Dispatch & Rick Halperin)

     David Junior Ward, 39, 2001-10-12, North Carolina

A man convicted of murdering a Pitt County storekeeper was executed Friday morning, hours after the governor rejected pleas to commute the sentence.
David Junior Ward, 39, died by injection at 2:17 a.m.
Ward was sentenced to death for his role in the ambush and shooting death of Dorothy Mae Smith on April 3, 1991.
The U.S. Supreme Court had rejected Ward's appeals twice in the past 2 weeks, and Gov. Mike Easley denied clemency at around 10 p.m. Thursday.
Ward visited with his mother, brother and daughter for more than 4 hours Thursday afternoon, but they did not stay to watch the execution. Meanwhile, anti-death penalty advocates rallied outside Central Prison in protest.
Last week, Easley commuted the death sentence for Robert Bacon Jr. to life in prison. Bacon's lawyers had argued that racism played a part in the punishment of their client, who was sentenced to death while a white co-defendant received a life sentence.
At a clemency hearing Monday for Ward, defense lawyer Marvin Sparrow hoped for similar results. He tried to convince Easley that the death sentence was unfair because Ward's co-defendant, sentenced to life in prison, was more responsible for the crime.
But prosecutors said Ward received a proper sentence from the jury and that his lawyers were engaged in last-ditch attempts to derail a just punishment.
2 state lawmakers also asked Attorney General Roy Cooper for a 30-day delay in the execution, but their plea Wednesday was rejected.
"I think a lot of people are disturbed by the apparent uneven application of the death penalty," Sparrow said. "I don't attribute it to flat-out opposition, but people are disturbed because it appears to be random."
In a statement issued late Thursday evening, Easley said he saw "no compelling reasons" to commute the death sentence recommended by a jury.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Christopher Beck, 26, 2001-10-18, Virginia

Christopher Beck apologized for killing his cousin and 2 of her housemates before he was executed Thursday night, declaring "the burden I carry is greater than any."
Beck, 26, was put to death by injection at the Greensville Correctional Center. He was pronounced dead at 9:03 p.m.
As he shuffled into the execution chamber, Beck appeared wide-eyed and pale, and the prison-issued shirt and denim jeans appeared too large for his small frame.
In a final statement, he accepted responsibility for his crimes.
"I understand the fullness of my crime," Beck said. "I understand there were more than 3 victims, that there are many that are not even born yet that became victims ... the loss of security, of neighbors and so forth.
"I'm sorry for everything I've done."
Beck, who lived in Philadelphia, told police he came to Arlington to kill his former employer, William Miller. He broke into the rooming house shortly before noon on June 5, 1995, and waited in the basement.
Beck's cousin, Florence Marks, 54, came home before Miller, and Beck shot and raped her. He then killed Miller, 52, and David Kaplan, 34, who happened upon the bloody scene. Marks and Kaplan rented rooms from Miller.
All 3 victims were shot in the head.
Gov. Jim Gilmore denied clemency about 1 hour before the scheduled execution.
"The convictions and death sentences were upheld on multiple appeals and there never has been any question as to his guilt or the brutality of his crimes," Gilmore said.
Gilmore's intervention was Beck's last hope for reprieve after the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected his appeal in a 7-2 vote.
Beck was the 2nd person executed in Virginia this year. Last year, the state executed 8.
Beck pleaded guilty to capital murder in May 1996. He also entered a plea that did not admit the rape, but conceded the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him of it.
In July, a 3-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected Beck's claims that he was brain-damaged and suffered from bipolar disorder. The court said tests showed no mental defects.
As a child, Beck was bounced around between family members when he was not with his mother, who abused drugs and alcohol, according to the clemency petition. His father hanged himself when Beck was 6 years old.
In the other execution in Virginia this year, Thomas Wayne Akers, 31, was put to death March 1 for killing a Roanoke man with a baseball bat during a 1998 robbery.
Beck becomes the 83rd condemned inmate to be put to death in Virginia since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982.
Only Texas, with 252 executions, also carried out since 1982, has more.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Alvie James Hale, 53, 2001-10-18, Oklahoma

A man who kidnapped and killed a 24-year-old Tecumseh banker in a 1983 extortion attempt died for the crime Thursday in Oklahoma's execution chamber.
A lethal mix of drugs stopped the heart of Alvie James Hale, 53, at 9:24 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
His execution came after 2 stays and a last-minute plea before the U.S. Supreme Court aimed at showing someone else was to blame for William Jeffrey Perry's murder.
Several members of Perry's family came to the prison to watch Hale die, including his mother and sister. Both took ransom calls after Perry's abduction.
Hale, a former Shawnee bakery owner, was a customer of the bank Perry's parents owned and had money troubles in October 1983.
On Oct. 10, 1983, Perry failed to show up for work. Later that day, a man called his family, informing them he had Perry and wanted $350,000.
After several more calls, Perry's mother, Joan, arranged to drop off the money. She testified she saw Hale in his truck as she left a box of cash at the arranged spot. The FBI also was watching and arrested Hale in Oklahoma City after a chase.
Perry's body was discovered wrapped in a tarp in a storage bin at the Earlsboro home of Hale's father. He had been shot 5 times.
Attorney General Drew Edmondson said in a statement Thursday it was "far past time" for the execution to be carried out.
"Jeff Perry's family has had to endure tremendous suffering and heartache as a result of his kidnapping and murder," he said, "and Oklahoma has been deprived of the significant contributions Jeff Perry would have continued to make to this state."
As a prison law clerk, Hale had helped other inmates prepare appeals and look for new legal avenues. His own final appeal unsuccessfully sought permission to interview "reluctant witnesses."
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted Hale a stay in July on a similar claim. That stay was lifted. But Gov. Frank Keating granted another in August to allow for a clemency plea, which the Pardon and Parole Board rejected.
Hale visited with his daughter as he awaited execution, officials said.
Perry's mother predicted before the execution that it would bring her no peace, but she was ready to put it behind her.
She had envisioned her warm, outgoing son rearing a family in Tecumseh and contributing to the community.
The town of Tecumseh hung yellow ribbons on trees and businesses this week in Perry's memory.
Mrs. Perry said the ringing of the telephone can still unnerve her.
"We're not the same family," she said. "We're not the same people. You don't wake up a day you don't think about him."
Hale becomes the 16th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma, and the 46th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.
Oklahoma leads the nation this year in executions, and ranks 5th nationally, trailing only Texas (252), Virginia (83), Missouri (52) and Florida (51).
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Gerald Mitchell, 33, 2001-10-22, Texas

Convicted killer Gerald Mitchell, who spent nearly 1/2 of his life as a prisoner condemned for a murder he committed at 17, was executed tonight.
He asked to see the victim's mother, Diane Marino, who was watching through a window a few feet from him and apologized.
"I am sorry for the pain. I am sorry for the life I took from you. I ask God for forgiveness and I ask you for the same. I know it may be hard, but I'm sorry for what I did," he said.
Mitchell turned to another window where friends and relatives watched and expressed love for them while advising them to be strong.
"I know I am going home to be with the Lord, shed tears of happiness for me," he said.
Mitchell said a brief prayer addressing his "Lord and savior." "I am ready for that mansion that you promised me," he said, drawing a chuckle from his relatives.
As the drugs began taking effect, he gasped slightly. His sister, Marsha, began sobbing and slid to her knees on the floor of the witness area as other relatives cried.
Members of Charles Anthony Marino's family showed no reaction. Mitchell killed Marino, 20, in 1985.
Mitchell was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m., 7 minutes after the drugs were started.
His attorneys and death penalty opponents had contended his age at the time of the crime should keep him from the Texas death chamber.
Mitchell's lawyers appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying his execution would violate international law. The high court on Monday turned down his lawyers' request to delay the execution.
"It is impossible to ignore this widespread recognition by applicable international bodies and officials," his lawyers wrote in their petition to the high court.
Congress, however, never has ratified provisions in treaties that would bar capital punishment for those convicted of crimes when they were less than 18.
And in a 1989 ruling in a Kentucky case, the Supreme Court said a defendant's rights were not violated when the death sentence was imposed on a murder convict who was at least 16 at the time of the offense. Texas law allows the death sentence to be imposed on those convicted of capital murder at age 17.
"On the one hand the USA is seeking to build an international coalition in response to the crimes of 11 September, while on the other it is set to break an overwhelming global consensus that the crimes of children must never result in the death penalty," London-based Amnesty International, which opposes the death penalty in all instances, said Monday, criticizing what it called the United States' "pick-and-choose approach to international human rights standards."
Mitchell, 33, was the 19th U.S. prisoner to be executed since 1976 for a murder committed when the killer was younger than 18. He was the 10th in Texas, the nation's most active death penalty state, where he was among 31 death row inmates who were 17 at the time of their crime.
It's the 2nd capital punishment case involving a teen-ager in recent months in Texas. While groups normally opposed to capital punishment criticized Monday's scheduled lethal injection, Mitchell's case failed to reach the level of attention given in August to fellow inmate Napoleon Beazley, also condemned for a murder at age 17.
Beazley was spared by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals hours before he was to have been put to death for killing the father of a federal appeals court judge. The same state court, however, refused to halt Mitchell's punishment.
By the time he was arrested for shooting 3 people on June 4, 1985, killing 2 of them, Mitchell had a history of robbery and theft, had been expelled from an alternative school and had fathered 7 children with 6 women.
Mitchell was condemned for killing Charles Anthony Marino, who was shot with a sawed-off shotgun after he and his brother-in-law, Kenneth Fleming, tried to buy $1 worth of marijuana from Mitchell in Houston.
Fleming was seriously wounded and left for dead. Marino was robbed of $25 and his car. The same day, Mitchell shot and killed Hector Munguia, 18, while trying to rob him of his necklace.
More than a week later, Mitchell was arrested driving Marino's car in Corpus Christi, 185 miles to the southwest.
"It's not that I looked forward to it," Diane Marino, whose son was killed by Mitchell, said of the execution. "I just want the sentence carried out and I want to be at peace. I will enjoy never having to mention his name again.
"Mitchell chose to be where he's at," she added. "I didn't choose to be where I'm at, but I still got a death sentence because my son is forever dead."
Mitchell also received 2 60-year sentences for the Munguia and Fleming shootings. At least 3 other inmates have execution dates before the end of 2001.
Mitchell becomes the 14th condemned prisoner to be put to death in Texas this year and the 253rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Stephen K. Johns, 55, 2001-10-24, Missouri

A man convicted of robbing a teen-age gas station clerk and shooting him in the back of the head as he lay on the ground was executed early Wednesday.
Stephen K. Johns, 55, was pronounced dead at 12:03 a.m. at the Potosi Correctional Center, 2 minutes after the 1st of 3 lethal doses was administered, state Department of Corrections spokesman John Fougere said.
His fate was sealed late Tuesday when the Missouri Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court and Gov. Bob Holden refused to halt the execution.
A jury in St. Louis found Johns guilty of shooting 17-year-old Don D. Voepel 3 times in the back of the head at close range after a robbery that netted $248. Voepel wasn't even supposed to work the night of Feb. 18, 1982; a co-worker had a date and Voepel agreed to cover his shift.
In an interview Tuesday, Johns continued to maintain his innocence, insisting he has never been to the gas station where Voepel was killed.
"I didn't even know it was there," Johns said.
He has been on death row since being sentenced in January 1983. It was the 2nd-longest stint on death row in Missouri history.
Johns becomes the 7th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Missouri and the 53rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1989. Missouri trails only Texas (253) and Virginia (83) in executions.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Terry Mincey, 40, 2001-10-25, Georgia

Terry Mincey on Thursday became the 1st person in Georgia to be put to death by lethal injection.
At 7:56 p.m., prison officials said, drugs were administered to the 40-year-old man. Ten minutes later, he was dead.
A day of frantic appeals by his lawyers to various courts wound down to nearly an hour delay from the scheduled execution. In the end, however, all, including the U.S. Supreme Court, turned down his appeals.
Mincey had been sentenced to die for killing Paulette Riggs, who was working at the Mini Foods convenience store on Houston Road in Macon, in 1982. Mincey and 2 co-defendants had picked the store for an armed robbery that netted them about $140. 2 teenagers in the store escaped.
A fireman who had pulled up at the gas pumps outside was shot and blinded. Riggs was fatally shot outside the store.
Co-defendants Timothy Jenkins and Robert Jones pleaded guilty and cooperated with authorities. Jones is serving a life sentence for a murder plea. Jenkins, who pleaded guilty to armed robbery, was released from prison in 1992.
Until Thursday, Georgia had not executed anyone in 3 years. But the unofficial moratorium on executions in Georgia was broken Oct. 5, when the state Supreme Court ruled electrocution unconstitutional.
In the hours before his death, Mincey visited at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison with friends and relatives, as he did on Wednesday. At 4:45 p.m., he had his final meal. Vigils were held in 6 cities around the state, including at the State Capitol and at the prison.
Mincey was more subdued and submissive on his last day, said prison spokesman Mike Light. In the death chamber, Mincey issued a short statement thanking people who supported him, but refused an offer of a final prayer. The GBI will take his body Tyler Funeral Home in Decatur.
His witnesses were three lawyers and 2 friends.
One of those friends, Tracey Bilow, recalled him as a young man who was a steady worker and had a good sense of humor. He'd gotten into some minor problems with the law before the robbery, she said before entering the prison, but he had no history of serious violence.
"He wasn't the type to go out and start whoopin' on anybody," said Bilow, who knew Mincey from the Bibb County community of Lizella.
Bilow, who has remained in contact with Mincey, said the public shouldn't be too quick to judge him. "I feel sorry for the victim and her family, but I also feel sorry for the man being strapped to the table," she said.
"I feel like God should be the one to do the punishment."
She was accompanied into the prison by Skip Hulett, a former journalist who covered Mincey's trial and later became his friend. "Terry has changed," Hulett said. "He's a lot different from the reckless, directionless young man he was."
Hulett said he had some doubts about Mincey's guilt during the trial, "and those questions have never been answered," he said.
Mincey also has unanswered questions in his own mind, Hulett said. "He still doesn't know how it could have happened, how he could have gotten involved with that kind of violence."
After the execution, Hulett and Bilow left the prison area holding each other for support.
"Terry died with dignity," Hulett said, adding that the procedure seemed very mechanical. "We've made a routine out of something that's as brutal and horrible as what Terry took part in," he said.
Another person who knew Mincey came to the prison to support the execution.
Tommy Goss, of Macon, ran an amusement arcade called the Wreck House in Bibb County at the time of the killing, and Mincey regularly hung out there.
"He was a typical teenager," Goss said. However, Goss said, the woman Mincey killed, Paulette Riggs, was also just a typical working woman, trying to help support her family. Her death is the justifying argument for mincey's death, he said.
"There are certain things people do that make them forfeit their right to live on this earth," Goss said. He carried a hand-lettered sign referring to the electric chair and lethal injection that said, "Flip or drip ... guilt is guilt."
Goss was the lone pro-execution demonstrator, compared to the approximately 40 people who came to protest.
David Courtenay-Quirk, part of an Atlanta group called Campaign to End the Death Penalty, called all executions "barbaric, racist acts that target the poor."
People who commit the same crime are given varying sentences based on their race or social standing or on the zealousness of the prosecutor, he said.
"The death penalty is basically a crapshoot," Courtenay-Quirk said.
Mincey's execution came after a flurry of last-minute attempts to stop it, including attacking the credibility of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles just minutes before asking the 5 people on the clemency board to commute Mincey's sentence to life in prison.
The recurring themes in the challenges were that one of Mincey's co-defendants fired the fatal shot, that Georgia was not prepared to humanely carry out lethal injection and that 2 board members accused of unethical behavior would want to reject Mincey's appeals to please the Attorney General's Office, which is investigating the pair.
3 drugs were used. First 2 doses of sodium pentothal were administered to sedate Mincey. That was followed by 50 CCs of Pavulon, which caused his lungs to collapse and paralyzed him. Then, 60 CCs of potassium chloride were injected to stop the heart. The injections were administered by 3 prison guards, who volunteers, standing behind a wall.
While state officials focused Thursday on executing Mincey, 2 other men had been moved into place to die on the gurney in the death chamber. Jose High is scheduled to be executed Nov. 6 for the 1976 murder of an 11-year-old boy in Taliaferro County. And Fred Marion Gilreath, 63, was scheduled to be executed Nov. 13 for the 1979 murders in Cobb County of his wife and his father-in-law.
Mincey becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Georgia and the 24th overall since the state resumed capital punishmentin 1983.
(sources: Atlanta Journal-Constitution & Rick Halperin)

     Jose Martinez High, 2001-11-06, Georgia

Jose Martinez High fought his inevitable death Tuesday and finally surrendered to a combination of deadly drugs intended to kill him for the murder of an 11-year-old boy in 1976.
High's execution was scheduled for 7 p.m., but was delayed beyond what was to be expected because prison officials could not find a suitable vein to support the shunt that was used to deliver the drugs.
Department of Corrections spokesman Mike Light said contract emergency medical technicians had to abandon their attempts to insert needles into his arm after trying 15 to 20 minutes. Instead, they inserted one in his hand and, as a backup, a doctor inserted one one between his shoulder and his neck.
Light insisted that High was cooperative and did not complain during this process. But under Department of Corrections guidelines, the procedure is not observed by witnesses.
Once witnesses were let into death chamber, High was able to speak his final words, insisting that he did not kill 11-year-old Bonnie Bulloch and decrying the death penalty as racist and designed to hurt only the poor.
"I did not kill that little boy," High said, adding that it was all part of a lie designed by investigators of the little boy's death. "I could not hurt a child. Never. That lie is going to follow me now. I'm ready to die."
The boy's mother and step-father were in another part of the prison along with family members and relatives of another of High's victims.
High directed some words to Bonnie's mother, Hazel Phillips: "I'm sorry about your kid, Ms. Phillips," he said. "I wanted to meet you. I wrote you a letter but you never got it. My life is a poor substitute for your son."
During the procedure, he grimaced, appeared to cry, blinked rapidly and stared at a clock on the wall. At one point, he cried out but his words were unintelligible because the microphone in the room was off. He yawned twice before succumbing to the drugs.
His death came at 8:07 p.m.
"I really hope that God forgave him," Hazel Phillips said after the execution. "I really hope some day, I'll have the strength to forgive him. We've had to go through those 25 years and that's too long."
She said his lawyers called her as recently as Tuesday trying to persuade her to meet him and "they were going to the Supreme Court with lies.
"I'm glad this one is over and maybe I'll sleep tonight, but it won't be over, not in my lifetime," she said, referring to High's co-defendants who are serving life sentences. She has vowed to spend the rest of her life seeing that they stay in prison.
Until High's body was taken from the prison, about 30 anti-death penalty activists stood in a circle, held candles and prayed.
The difficulty inserting the IV and the visible physical responses of High contrasted the state's 1st lethal injection execution less than 2 weeks ago, which appeared to go flawlessly -- the prisoner said little and made no apparent movements.
Michael Mears, director of the Multi-County Public Defender Office, said Tuesday night that courts have not had a chance to rule on lethal injection proceedings. "They are experimenting and practicing on human beings and in this day and time, it's abominable, it's ghoulish," he said. "We would like to have the press present to supervise."
He has said that according to data kept by 2 university professors, "many condemned prisoners in other states have experienced significant pain and suffering" when prison officials attempted to insert IVs into prisoners.
High and 2 other men were convicted of Bonnie's murder and sentenced to die, but the convictions of the other two -- one who was the admitted trigger man -- were overturned because they had the same attorney at trial, which the courts considered a conflict.
The 2 later pleaded guilty to murder and were sentenced to life in prison.
Though High was suspected of killing 3 others and kidnapping, raping and shooting 5 others, he was not tried once he was sentenced to die for killing Bonnie.
High's attorneys tried to save him by insisting that his punishment was out of proportion to the co-defendant who fired the fatal shot and that he was mentally ill.
Fred Marion Gilreath is scheduled to be executed next Wednesday for the 1979 murders of his wife and father-in-law.
High becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Georgia and the 25th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.
(sources: Atlanta Journal-Constitution & Rick Halperin)

     Terry Clark, 45, 2001-11-6, New Mexico

Terry Clark, who raped and murdered a 9-year-old Artesia girl in 1986 a year after he was convicted of raping another little girl, died by chemical injection Tuesday - the first person executed in New Mexico in nearly 42 years. "Terry Clark left me for dead when I was 6 years old," said a tearful Donita Welch of Roswell, who was the little girl who survived the rape. She witnessed the execution. Her name had never been made public until Tuesday. "All I can say it that it was an act of God that I got away," she said.
Welch, now 23, said she was present to see Clark die for killing 9-year Dena Lynn Gore, "to make sure he got something taken away from him that he will never get back. He took it from me and Dena ... and now he'll never get it back."
Clark, 45, was pronounced dead at 7:10 p.m. After Warden Tim LeMaster read him the death warrant, Before that, he quickly mumbled "15 minutes" - nothing more. LeMaster said the reference came from the book, "Dead Man Walking" by Sister Helen Prejean.
Clark, who decided in March to end his appeals, never looked at the witnesses throughout the brief procedure. He never turned his head, his gaze fixed on LeMaster and on his spiritual adviser. Clark was blinking rapidly when LeMaster read the death warrant.
At about 7:03 p.m., as the drugs were being administered, his cheeks puffed and the witnesses could hear a gasp. At that point, he made a hard grimace and closed his eyes. Then, his face relaxed, and the witnesses could hear a slight expelling of breath and a gurgle. His eyes closed.
Clark was out on bond pending appeal of his rape conviction of then-6-year-old Donita Welch when Dena Lynn was killed.
He never denied killing Dena Lynn, who was found shot to death on the ranch where he worked, yet never offered an explanation for it. He pleaded guilty and told a minister he'd raped her.
The case stayed in the courts for years, with Clark changing his mind more than once about whether he wanted to die. Against the wishes of his lawyers, who argued that he was incompetent and mentally ill, Clark asked a judge to go ahead with his execution.
Dena Lynn Gore's parents, Jeff and Colleen Gore, who had been divorced before their daughter was killed, were "holding onto each other" during the execution, Corrections Department spokesman Gerges Scott said. Before the curtain opened, Gore put his hand on his ex-wife's shoulder. Both declined to speak to the media after the execution.
"What happened tonight wasn't about Terry Clark; it was about this little girl ... Dena Lynn Gore," said Thomas Rutledge, the district attorney who prosecuted the case. He gestured toward a photo placed on the podium of Dena Lynn smiling.
"Terry Clark had his legal rights protected and exhausted for 15 years - longer than Dena Lynn was on this earth," Rutledge said. He told reporters to "remember the Gore family and all the suffering they went through."
Gov. Gary Johnson, who returned from a trip to Canada 2 hours before the execution, said, "I satisfied that justice was done and that the state carried out its obligation to its citizens.
"Mr. Clark deserved the punishment he received for the heinous crimes that he committed, crimes for which he properly paid the ultimate price. I can only hope that his execution will serve as a lesson to all those who would engage in such evil acts," he said.
The last person executed in New Mexico before Clark was David Cooper Nelson, the only person who died in state's gas chamber on Jan. 8, 1960.
Years ago, Clark followed his lawyers' advice and pleaded guilty in the hopes that then-Gov. Toney Anaya would commute Clark's pending death sentence to life imprisonment. Anaya, an opponent of capital punishment, had just emptied death row. But his term ran out before Clark was sentenced - and Anaya refused to grant a conditional pardon that would have guaranteed a life sentence. Today, Anaya says Clark's death may come back to haunt him.
In August, District Judge David Bonem found Clark competent to decide on his execution and set the date for Tuesday.
With just hours to go, Clark had remained in "good spirits," Scott said, adding that Clark is a born-again Christian who "believes he will have everlasting life after the execution."
Meanwhile, protesters on both sides of the capital punishment debate gathered in Santa Fe - proponents outside the Corrections Department and opponents at the state Capitol.
"15 years of being at trials and court hearings - I'm not going to miss the day to say, 'Justice for Dena,'" said Patti Jo Grisham, a long-time friend of Dena Lynn's mother, Colleen Gore.
At the Capitol, several hundred anti-death penalty supporters held a candlelight protest.
3 courts refused to stop the execution Tuesday. The state Supreme Court denied a lawsuit filed in Santa Fe, which alleged that the Corrections Department illegally obtained the lethal drugs for the execution. That suit was filed by lawyer Mark Donatelli and Democratic state Reps. Mimi Stewart and Gail Beam of Albuquerque.
A federal appeal by Joseph Fleming, who said he socialized and corresponded with Clark in Roswell, was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. Fleming, who was dismissed by a lower court judge as an "uninvited meddler," believed Clark felt pressured "to commit suicide."
The U.S. Supreme Court also denied a challenge from lawyers that questioned Clark's state of mind and competence to accept his death sentence. The lawyers contended that Clark's decision was "a coerced choice to die rather than face continued confinement in a prison system which has become unbearable and intolerable."
The state attorney general responded that the lawyers lacked the legal standing to try to get Clark's execution delayed.
The Clark case has lingered in New Mexico's courts for 15 years.
On the afternoon of July 17, 1986, Dena Lynn borrowed her older brother Jeffery's silver bicycle for a 6-block ride from her home in Artesia to a convenience store. She never came home.
5 days later, her bound, badly decomposed body was found in a shallow grave in an arroyo on the Squaw Canyon Ranch, 60 miles northwest of Artesia. She had been shot in the head 3 times.
The foreman of the ranch led investigators to his younger brother, ranch hand Terry Clark, knowing about prior rape conviction.
The state Supreme Court overturned Clark's sentence in 1994, saying his constitutional rights had been violated. The court said the jury that imposed the sentence was misled about how long he would be imprisoned if it didn't impose death. A 2nd death sentence was imposed by a jury in 1996.
(source: Santa Fe New Mexican)

     Jeffery Tucker, 41, 2001-11-14, Texas

Convicted killer Jeffery Tucker apologized to his victim's family before he was executed Wednesday night in Huntsville for the 1988 slaying of a Granbury man. Tucker had admitted shooting Wilton Humphreys.
Mr. Tucker was condemned for the death of Wilyon Jumphreys, 65, of Granbury, who was shot July 11, 1988. Tucker had responded to a newspaper ad Humphreys placed to sell his vehicle. Tucker was caught, driving the victim's truck, following a chase near Santa Rosa, New Mexico.
Testimony from a medical examiner showed that Mr. Humphreys was hit in the back of the head before he was fatally shot in the truck in rural Parker County.
When arrested for the slaying, Tucker already had been in and out of Texas prisons 3 times, with convictions including drug possession, check forgery, theft and assault from at least 5 counties: Tarrant, Collin, Harris, Palo Pinto and Anderson.
While in prison in 1984, he pleaded guilty to stabbing a cellmate and shoving the man under his bed with a sharpened toothbrush stuck in prisoner's head and a metal rod thrust in his throat. Less than 4 years later, the former truck driver from Tarrant County was paroled. A month later, he was arrested for the Humphreys killing.
"I think he was truly just a mean person," Donald Schnebly, the district attorney in Parker County, said. "Obviously, he had not been rehabilitated."
When he was pulled over by state police in New Mexico following a chase near Santa Rosa, N.M., Tucker was driving Humphreys' truck and also was wanted for robbing a service station 3 days earlier. He gave authorities a confession.
Humphreys was shot 3 times - twice in the chest, once in the face - then was run over with his own truck. Tucker described the shooting as "a simple ... accident."
"He lunged at me," the convict said. "I had the gun in my hand. It went off."
"I'm guilty," he said from death row. "I've never denied my guilt."
Tucker had been set for execution on September 11th, but his punishment was delayed due to the terrorist attacks. In his last statement, he said: "I'd like to tell the Humphreys family that I'm sorry. It was just a simple accident, an d if my death will give you any solace, I gladly give that to you."
"Have a happy heart knowing I leave this world in peace." Tucker then began reciting the Lord's Prayer as his eyes shut. When Tucker finished the prayer, Humphreys' son, Jon Brad Humphreys, said "Amen" with him.
Humphreys told his attorneys he knew they were upset at him for stopping his appeals.
Tucker was pronounced dead at 6:26 p.m., 11 minutes after the injection began.
Tucker becomes the 15th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 254th overall since the state resumed capital punishment.
(sources: Associated Press, Dallas Morning News & Rick Halperin)

     Fred Marion Gilreath Jr., 63, 2001-11-15, Georgia

A man convicted of killing his wife and father-in-law in 1979 was executed Thursday, the 3rd condemned inmate Georgia has put to death in 3 weeks.
Fred Marion Gilreath Jr., 63, had received a 1-day stay Wednesday for the U.S. Supreme Courtto consider his attorney's arguments that his clemency hearing was unfair. The court denied the motion.
Gilreath was pronounced dead at 3:53 p.m., prison officials said.
In his final statement, Gilreath thanked his lawyers "for the good work they did for me, and for the men in blue, and the warden for treating me with respect, dignity and like a human being."
Gilreath's lawyers had contended the clemency hearing was unfair because one member of the 5-person state Board of Pardons and Paroles was absent and some board members had conflicts of interest.
Gilreath was convicted of killing his wife Linda Gilreath and his father-in-law Gerrit Van Leeuwen in Cobb County in 1979. His family argued he should not be executed because the slayings arose from a heated domestic dispute, and were not planned. Gilreath was sentenced to death in 1980.
Gilreath becomes the 26th condemned inmate to be put to death in Georgia since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Emerson Rudd, 31, 2001-11-15, Texas

A Dallas man whose offenses began at age 11 when he stabbed a schoolmate was executed Thursday for killing a restaurant manager during a crime rampage in which he terrorized dozens of robbery victims.
Emerson Rudd, 31, had indicated he would not go quietly to the death chamber, and at first he didn't. But weh it came time, he calmly accepted his death.
"I'm sorry for shooting your son down at that particular robbery," Mr. Rudd told the victim's family. "Politicians say that this brings closure but my death doesn't bring your son back. It doesn't bring closure. I wish that I could do more, but I can't. I hope this brings you peace."
Turning his eyes toward his friends and spiritual adviser, Mr. Rudd said, "I'm ready to go. Call my mom and tell her that this particular process is over. Tell all the brothes to keep their heads up, eyes toward the sky."
He was pronounced dead at 6:26 p.m., 12 minutes after the drugs began flowing.
Prison officials had to use gas midday Thursday to force Mr. Rudd from a cell at the Polunsky Unit, the prison where death row is located, so he could be moved to the Huntsville, Unit, about 45 miles to the west, prison spokesman Larry Fitzgerald said.
As Mr. Rudd talked to his supporters in his final statement, he said, They've got to do this thing. I'm still warm from the pepper gas."
The victim's family watched the execution without any visible reaction.
Mr. Rudd had said recently that he didn't understand why terrorists received life prsion terms for blowing up building yet he received a death sentence.
"I'm not somebody trying to set bombs and kill hundreds of people," he said. "I got involved with a robbery, and an individual got shot and he died."
Mr. Rudd was held in the highest custody of death row because of continuing behavior problems since arriving more than 12 years ago.
Rudd refused the traditonal last meal, stating "that's pretty much an insult. You don't eat from the hands of your enemy."
A jury took 12 minutes to convict Mr. Rudd of killing Steve Morgan, 23, a Dallas restaurant manager. The slaying occurred about 3 weeks after Mr. Rudd turned 18. When the same jury decided Mr. Rudd should be put to death, the high school student became the youngest person from Dallas County to be condemned.
He becomes the 16th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 255th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.
(sources: Dallas Morning News & Rick Halperin)

     John Hardy Rose, 43, 2001-11-30, North Carolina

The state executed John Hardy Rose, 43, early today for the 1991 murder of a young woman who was his neighbor in the Graham County seat of Robbinsville. Gov. Mike Easley refused to grant clemency despite an appeal last week from Pope John Paul II.
Rose died at 2:18 a.m. from a lethal injection administered in the death chamber at Central Prison. Among the witnesses were his mother and 2 sisters plus the mother, 2 aunts and sister of Rose's victim, Patricia Stewart.
Rose's court appeals were exhausted 2 months ago, and he directed his lawyer not to pursue clemency.
Rose's family, from Robbinsville and Bryson City, spent Thursday with him at the prison.
As regularly occurs on evenings of executions, a group of people opposed to capital punishment marched from a local church to the gates of the massive prison on Western Boulevard for a peaceful candlelit protest.
Rose received the death penalty for killing Stewart, 24, on Jan. 3, 1991, in her Robbinsville apartment, which was directly below the one in which Rose was living. This week, Stewart's family said she was rebuilding her life after a divorce and "wanted to prove to the world that she could live by herself," said her aunt, Lee Vonda Riddle.
Upon his mother's urging that he confess, Rose led police to Stewart's body, which he had set on fire before he buried it in a shallow grave on a mountain.
Stewart's family, also in Robbinsville, drove to Raleigh on Monday to speak with Easley at Rose's clemency hearing Tuesday. They said they considered the death penalty a just punishment for Rose, but they expressed compassion for his family.
Eloise Pace visited her son this week for the 3rd time since he was sent to death row, and she said he was at peace with his fate. In his 10 years at Central Prison, she said, her son repeatedly had tried to write to Stewart's family of his remorse, but he could not put his feelings on paper.
"Then he finally prayed about it, and the words just come to him," Pace said.
Pace and Rose's sisters, Ulayla Odom and Betty Rose, said they were appreciative of the pope's appeal and for writers to local editorial pages who asked for Rose's life to be spared.
"I'm not trying to make what he did right, because it was horrible," Pace said. "But I don't see how this will help [Stewart's family]."
Pope John Paul II made his appeal to Easley, a Roman Catholic, last week. It was the 1st time the pontiff had spoken up in a North Carolina case, although he has asked for mercy for death-row inmates elsewhere.
Rose's upbringing was poverty-stricken and brutal. His alcoholic father beat his mother routinely and forced an 11-year-old Rose to have sex with his mistresses. As an adult, Rose married and had 3 sons, but he took up a drug and alcohol habit and served a prison sentence in Mississippi for attempted rape.
In his court appeals, Rose argued that he had been badly defended at his trial. One lawyer was fresh out of law school, and the other had been retired for several years after a career in the district attorney's office. Neither learned that a doctor had diagnosed Rose with severe mental illness while he was imprisoned in Mississippi.
Rose's lawyer, Michael Minsker of Charlotte, said Rose's 3 sons had wanted to come from their homes in Oklahoma to be with their father this week, but Rose had forbidden it.
Rose becomes the 5th condemned inmate to be put to death in North Carolina this year and the 21st overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1984.
(sources: News & Observer & Rick Halperin)

     Lois Nadean Smith, 61, 2001-12-04, Oklahoma

A woman who shot her son's ex-girlfriend nine times and stabbed her in the throat was executed Tuesday night, the 3rd woman put to death in Oklahoma this year.
Lois Nadean Smith, 61, who as a high school student earned the nickname "Mean Nadean," was pronounced dead at 9:13 p.m., shortly after a lethal mix of chemicals was administered.
Smith was convicted of killing Cindy Baillie, 21, in Sequoyah County on July 4, 1982, because she thought Baillie was trying to have Smith's son killed.
"You do something of this magnitude, torturing somebody, you're going to have to pay the price for it," said Baillie's daughter, Brandy Fields, 24. "She chose her path in life."
Fields witnessed the execution with her husband, a sister and a family friend. Smith's witnesses were 4 attorneys and a spiritual adviser.
Smith was the last woman on Oklahoma's death row. No state has executed as many women in 1 year since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington.
On Thursday, an Iraqi national is scheduled to become the 18th. No state has executed more - Texas has had 16 executions, with 1 more scheduled before year's end.
8 women were arrested Tuesday night while protesting Smith's execution.
They were held on misdemeanor trespassing complaints after crossing a police line at the Mabel Basset Correctional Center in Oklahoma City.
Smith was housed at the prison before being transferred to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary for the execution.
The 8 women arrested were part of a group of about 25 people involved in civil disobedience in Oklahoma City, said protester Kevin Acers. Some in the group planned to fast through Thursday to protest the last 2 executions in Oklahoma this year.
Amnesty International asked Gov. Frank Keating this week to call off the executions. Dan Mahoney, Keating's spokesman, said the executions would go forward.
Smith and her son, Greg, and another woman picked up Baillie in Tahlequah the morning of the killing, said Attorney General Drew Edmondson. Smith confronted her about rumors that she had threatened to have Greg Smith killed.
Prosecutors said Nadean Smith then began to choke Baillie and stabbed her in the throat with a knife. Baillie was driven to a home in Gans, where Nadean Smith shot her in the chest, head and back and jumped on her neck.
Greg Smith was convicted of murder and given a life sentence. He reloaded Smith's gun during the shooting.
The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board denied clemency for Smith in early November. Her attorneys said she suffered from a head injury, was trying to protect her son and was under the influence of alcohol and drugs during the crime.
But Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Miller told the board Smith was able to hold down a job and during her trial denied using drugs or alcohol.
Smith becomes the 17th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma and the 47th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.
(sources: The Oklahoman & Rick Halperin)

     Sahib Al-Mosawi, 53, 2001-12-06, Oklahoma

An Iraqi national who stabbed his wife and her uncle to death in 1992 was executed Thursday.
Sahib Al-Mosawi, 53, was sentenced to death in 1994. He did not request a clemency hearing and had no appeals pending.
He was executed by injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.
He met his wife and her family at a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia after they left Iraq in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War. Their marriage was arranged, and the couple and her family later moved to Oklahoma City.
They had marital problems and Inaam Al-Nashi moved in with her uncle, Mohammad Al-Nashi. She sought a protective order soon after the couple's son was born because Al-Mosawi threatened her and her family in an argument over the boy's name.
2 weeks later, on Nov. 28, 1992, he came to Al-Nashi's home and became angered that his wife was going to a party with friends. Al-Mosawi stabbed the uncle, who was trying to make him leave.
Al-Mosawi then stabbed his wife and her sister, Fatima. She was stabbed 3 times, but survived.
Al-Mosawi becomes the 18th condemned prisoner put to death in Oklahoma this year, and the 48th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990. 3 more condemned inmates have exhausted all appeals, and the attorney general's office is seeking to have their execution dates set.
Only Texas (255), Virginia (83), Missouri (53), and Florida (51) have executed more prisoners than Oklahoma since 1976, when the death penalty was re-legalized.
(sources: The Oklahoman & Rick Halperin)

     Byron Ashley Parker, 41, 2001-12-11, Georgia

Despite claims that he is a changed man, Byron Ashley Parker died at 7:26 p.m. Tuesday, becoming the 4th person executed in Georgia by lethal injection since Oct. 25.
He recorded his final words into a tape recorder before he was led into the death chamber, where he apologized to the family of Christie Ann Griffith. He declined to make a 2nd statement to witnesses after he was strapped to the gurney.
Hazel Griffith, mother of the 11-year-old girl Parker was convicted of murdering, said she would go to her daughter's grave today to tell her," 'Baby, rest in peace because your killer is dead in hell.' He took everything away from me, and I hope he burns in hell."
Parker, 41, was sentenced to die for the Douglas County kidnapping, raping and strangling of Christie Ann Griffith in 1984 after the young girl asked him if he had seen the taxi that was to carry her to her brother's high school graduation. Parker offered her a ride. He took her to a secluded area where he killed her and left her body tied to a tree.
During the crime, his 2-year-old son waited inside a nearby locked car.
Parker spent his last day visiting with friends and relatives; about 20 came throughout the day. Corrections spokesman Mike Light said Parker was emotional all day Tuesday, and after his relatives left he cried for the 1st time.
Unlike the the 26 men Georgia has executed in the past 18 years under the current death penalty law, Parker did not ask for anything special for his last meal. Parker declined the meal that was served late Tuesday afternoon to other inmates at the Diagnostic and Classification Prison at Jackson. All he had before his execution was chocolate milk and coffee.
Witnesses said Parker's only words once he was in the chamber were to ask for a prayer, and to echo the chaplain when he ended it with "Amen."
Throughout the 10-minute procedure Parker "mostly stared at the ceiling," according to witnesses.
In addition to the official witnesses who are routinely assembled for executions, this time there was an investigator for a 19-year-old accused murder facing the death penalty in Bibb County. A judge ordered the Department of Corrections to allow a representative for Thomas Gaillard to be there to present evidence in his unscheduled trial as to whether lethal injection is unconstitutionally cruel.
Unlike 2 of the 3 previous lethal injections, Corrections officials said they had no problems finding veins in which to send the lethal drug combination.
"He's getting an easy way out," said Hazel Griffith, still bitter about the death of her youngest child.
Griffith, now a 57-year-old grandmother, waited at home for news that Parker was dead.
Parker's advocates tried to win him mercy by portraying him as changed and rehabilitated. They included about 100 writers who considered him a peer. Parker has written poetry, novels and screenplays, including some that were published, according to his attorney.
"I believe in rehabilitation," Bettie Sellers, Georgia's poet laureate 1997-2000, said of the man to whom she had offered writing tips. "I believe if anyone has been rehabilitated . . . Byron Parker is that person. He is not the same person who murdered that little girl."
Parker becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Georgia and the 27th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.
(sources: Atlanta Journal Constitution & Rick Halperin)

     Vincent Edward Cooks, 2001-12-12, Texas

A parolee convicted of killing a Dallas police officer during a robbery almost 14 years ago was executed Wednesday night.
Vincent Edward Cooks expressed love for his family and friends and apologized to his mother, Annie Daniels, for not being "a better son."
"It wasn't your fault I did the things I did," he said. "At least I won't be here anymore. I'm going to miss you."
Cooks made no eye contact with relatives of slain officer Gary McCarthy, but seemed to maintain his contention that he was not the killer.
"By them executing me, they aren't going to make it right," he said.
McCarthy, 33, was gunned down while working an off-duty security job at a Dallas market on Feb. 26, 1988. Prosecutors said they were confident they got the right man.
"There was no doubt in my mind that Cooks was the gunman," said Janice Warder, a former assistant district attorney in Dallas County who is now a state district judge in Dallas.
When he was arrested for killing McCarthy, Cooks, 37, was on parole after serving only 9 months of a 5-year term for aggravated assault for shooting at a Houston police officer. Cooks was fingered as the triggerman; 2 accomplices each received 20-year prison terms.
"The difficult part of this is reliving the memories," Candy McCarthy, the slain officer's sister, said Wednesday. "We've been waiting nearly 14 years for this."
Cooks becomes the 17th and final Texas inmate to receive lethal injection this year, making the 2001 execution total in the state the lowest since 3 were put to death in 1996. Last year, a record 40 inmates were strapped to the gurney in the Huntsville death chamber. Texas has now executed 256 condemned inmates since the state resumed capital punishment on Dec. 7, 1982. The total is more than 3 times as many as Virginia's 2nd-highest execution total of 83; Virginia also resumed executions in 1982.
(Sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)