Death Penalty and Death Row in USA

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Penalty in USA

Information about individuals executed January-July 2003

    Samuel Clark Gallamore, 31, 2002-01-14, Texas

Convicted killer Samuel Gallamore, who brutally beat and stabbed to death a partially paralyzed woman, her husband and daughter, was executed Tuesday night.

"I would like to apologize and say I'm sorry but words seem so hollow and cheap," Gallamore said in a handwritten statement distributed after his execution. He had declined to make a final statement from the death chamber gurney. "Their death should not have happened, but it did. I'm so sorry that all of this took place."

Gallamore also said that in the last hour of his life, his heart grew because relatives of the slain victims said they forgave him.

"You have given me more hope than I have had in a long time," he said in his note. "If I could change things I would, not for my sake but for all those who have loved me over the years and for those who have forgiven me."

Gallamore did not look at any of the witnesses, instead waiting with his eyes closed until the drugs took effect. He took 2 deep breaths and his body began to shake before his head turned to one side and he stopped moving. Gallamore was pronounced dead at 6:14 p.m., 7 minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow.

The niece of the slain couple, Kristin Huffman, attended the execution along with Kerr County Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer. Huffman wiped tears from her eyes after Gallamore took his final breath.

"There's sadness that they were killed in a horrific way, yet I think my heart just goes out now to Gallamore's family," Huffman said. "Now they are grieving over the loss of their son and we know what that feels like."

Gallamore's mother, sister, brother-in-law and two friends came to Huntsville to witness his execution, but he asked that they not attend. Prison officials described Gallamore as very emotional in the hours leading up to his execution.

Gallamore had said last week from death row that the 1992 slayings didn't have to happen.

"Things went wrong, terribly wrong," Gallamore said then. "I am sorry. I have no problem giving my life in payment, but I only have one life and I take responsibility for all 3."

Gallamore said his friend James John Steiner directed him on March 29, 1992, to the rural Kerr County home where the pair planned a robbery for drug money. Julianna Kenney and her husband, Verle Clayton Kenney, lived there with Julianna Kenney's daughter, Adrienne Arnot.

"I was under the impression that people weren't supposed to be there," Gallamore said. "They were. One thing led to another. Everything happened so fast. I had a split second to react. I don't know why I made the decision that I did, but those people had a chance to live. No one had to die."

Gallamore and Steiner, who had cared for Julianna Kenney in her home, beat the paralyzed woman's husband and her daughter. Arnot was struck 12 times in the head and face and suffered 14 blows to her upper body, back and right thigh. Kenney was hit 6 times in the head with a tire iron and a cedar stick.

Gallamore then grabbed a knife from the kitchen and stabbed Arnot and Kenney.

"(Mrs. Kenney) literally kind-of had to watch everything that was happening to her husband and her daughter but could not move," Hierholzer said.

Gallamore said he then killed Julianna Kenney. She was found with her throat slit and skull bashed with so much force that a gaping hole measuring seven inches by two inches wide was left in her head.

"It was just so senseless. It is so hard to understand," Hierholzer said. "(Mrs. Kenney) couldn't even defend herself if she wanted to."

It took 18 months for police to track down Gallamore and Steiner. Gallamore had moved to Chicago, where he was working as a home repairman.

Hierholzer said a bloody cedar stick found with a partial fingerprint from Gallamore in the brush outside the Kenneys' home led police to him.

Previously, Hierholzer said Gallamore had been arrested for minor offenses, "but nothing anywhere like this crime."

Jurors selected to hear evidence in the case heard a poem Gallamore wrote from his jail cell in which he described the begging and pleading of "the people I sat and watched bleed. I say I am guilty and that is true. Now I ask mercy from all 12 of you."

Gallamore was sentenced to death on Feb. 3, 1994. Steiner received a life sentence.

"My life is worthless since I've done this," said Gallamore, who says he began using marijuana when he was 5, dropped out of school as a teenager and often fought to protect his older brother who was in a gang.

"When it comes to having a life, you can pretty much say mine was a failure," he said.

On the night of the killings, Gallamore said he and Steiner were on a 2-week drug binge.

"If I could, I would take it back, not just to save my own life, but to save everybody," Gallamore said. "Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think this would cause so much pain to so many people."

Gallamore becomes the 1st condemned to be put to death this year in Texas and the 290th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on Dec. 7, 1982. 6 others also are set to die in January, including John Baltazar, whose execution is scheduled Wednesday night for the 1997 shooting death of a 5-year-old Corpus Christi girl.

Gallamore becomes the 51st inmate to be put to death under the tenure of Rick Perry as Governor of Texas.

Gallamore becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 821st overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    John Baltazar, 30, 2002-01-15, Texas

In Huntsville, a Corpus Christi man, who said he didn't mean to kill a 5-year-old girl as she was curled up on her family's couch watching "Sleeping Beauty," was executed tonight.

John Baltazar had no final statement. Once the drugs began flowing, his eyes partially closed and his lips closed tightly. He took deep breaths and then gasped for air before his mouth fell open and he was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m., 8 minutes after the lethal dose began.

Relatives of Adriana Marines witnessed the execution.

A stoic Arturo Marines comforted his wife, Matilda, as she and her sister, Dalinda Cuellar, sobbed as the death occurred.

Marines said his daughter's 1997 death was no accident.

"He pretty much knew what he was doing," Marines said earlier. "He kicked the door in and just started shooting. He was executioner. He was judge and jury for my daughter all in one evening."

Baltazar, 30, said he remembers shooting Arturo Marines, but had no idea he shot Marines' daughter or his 10-year-old niece, Vanessa Marines.
Adriana died from 2 bullet wounds to her head. Vanessa survived a gunshot to her chest.

"I didn't intentionally nor knowingly kill this child," Baltazar said last week from death row. "It was accidental."

Baltazar said he was drunk and looking for Arturo Marines' brother-in- law, Narciso "Ted" Cuellar, who had moved out of the family's home a week earlier. Cuellar had previously been sleeping on the couch where his 2 young nieces nestled on the night of Sept. 27, 1997, to watch the movie.

Baltazar said he had gotten a call informing him that Cuellar had beaten his mother.

"I've never been very good with controlling my anger, but if Ted were to beat my mom again, I would try and go whip on (him) again," he said.

Baltazar, who was paroled from prison just 2 months before the shootings, said he feels bad about killing Adriana Marines and wounding her cousin, but said he doesn't regret shooting Arturo Marines.

"He jumped up and he was in my face," Baltazar said. "That's why he got shot."

Arturo Marines says Baltazar turned his family's life "inside out."

"I don't believe shooting innocent children, or for that matter, anybody, is an accident," he said. "Why couldn't you go after who you were really looking for instead of destroying an innocent family the way you did?"

Baltazar said he didn't know the answer to that question.

"I've been locked up most of my life," Baltazar said. "There ain't too much I can say about it."

Before the shootings, Baltazar had pleaded guilty in 1994 to a felony burglary charge and a felony unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charge.
In 1992, he also had served time for 2 earlier burglary charges.

Between 1989 and 1993, Baltazar pleaded either guilty or no contest to 10 misdemeanor charges, including 4 charges of marijuana possession, three charges of evading detention and a theft charge.

"I already knew that if I was found guilty that I was going to death row, simply because of my prior convictions," Baltazar said of the jury's guilty verdict and the death sentence it later handed down on March 11, 1998. "You can't find someone not to be a continuing threat to society with the record that I have."

Baltazar said he wasn't afraid to die but thought his crime wasn't one he should be paying for with his life.

"I'm not one to sidestep or shy away from my actions," he said. "Every thing I have ever been down for, if I'm guilty, I admit to my guilt. But I don't think being put to death for an accidental killing is right."

Arturo Marines, meanwhile, says he hopes Baltazar's punishment will finally help his family to heal.

"I'm just glad it is going to be over," he said. "Hopefully after this, everyone can go on with their lives.

"This is the end of the book."

Baltazar becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas, and the 291st overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.

Baltazar becomes the 52nd condemned inmate to be put to death since Rick Perry became Governor of Texas.

Baltazar becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 822nd overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977. There are 7 more executions scheduled in the USA this month, with 5 of them set in Texas alone.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Daniel Juan Revilla, 34,2002-01-16, Oklahoma

In McAlester, a man who brutally beat his girlfriend's baby boy to death 16 years ago died for the crime Thursday.

Daniel Juan Revilla was pronounced dead at 6:12 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, minutes after executioners delivered a mix of drugs to stop his breathing and then his heart.

Mark Gomez of Altus was just 13 months old when he was killed in a beating so brutal it severed his liver.

Revilla, 34, denied intentionally harming Mark. He told authorities he panicked when he found the boy wasn't breathing and struck and accidentally scalded the child while trying to revive him.

The baby was bruised, burned and had cuts on his thighs and peeling skin on his chest and groin when he died. An autopsy showed swelling and bleeding of the brain, along with a severed liver.

The boy's father and 4 other family members came to the prison to see Revilla die.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Revilla's last-ditch plea for a stay Thursday afternoon.

Revilla spent his final hours visiting with his brother and godmother.

At the time of the murder, Revilla was 18 and working on a farm. The boy's mother wasn't at home when Revilla said he found the child had stopped breathing.

Revilla told authorities he was trying to revive the baby when he struck him in the abdomen and then accidentally scalded him with hot water. He said he rushed from the bathroom and struck the boy's head on the door frame. He said he then tripped and fell on top of the boy.

Mark's mother, Michelle McElmurry, and 2 other witnesses testified that Revilla hated the boy because he was not his child.

She told of previous abuse, saying Revilla had shut the baby in a kitchen drawer, folded him in a hide-a-bed, dunked him in cold water and hung him by his ankles with duct tape.

Mark's father, Juan Gomez, said his son was a playful blue-eyed baby. The murder took place 2 days before he was to take custody of him, he said.

"I've got pictures of him from when we were together," he said. "I look back at those times and I sob. It was a short time, but it was still a good time."

Gomez said he wanted to witness the execution because he thought it might bring him peace.

Revilla becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma and the 56th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990. Only Texas (291), Virginia (87), and Missouri (59) have executed more inmates since America re-legalized the death penalty on July 2, 1976.

(soruces: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Robert Lookingbill, 37, 2002-01-22, Texas

In Huntsville, a construction worker who was on parole when he bludgeoned his grandparents to steal money to buy cocaine was executed Wednesday night.

"When it comes, you can't run from it and I'm not going to run," Robert Lookingbill said in his final statement from the death chamber gurney.

"I would like to thank all my loves ones that are standing over there for all the kindness and support you have shown me over the years," he said, referring to his wife, Brenda, and some friends. "Be strong. Do not hate, but learn from this experience. It has been a blessing to know all of you. Don't forget me."

He mouthed kisses to them. He let out 2 strong breaths and was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m., 13 minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow.

Lookingbill was resigned to facing lethal injection for Adeline Dannenberg's 1989 fatal beating with a steel bar as she slept. The U.S. Supreme Court denied 2 requests for stays.

He never wavered on his insistence he didn't kill his 70-year-old grandmother in her South Texas home.

"They're doing me a favor," Lookingbill said recently from death row. "The other side offers more than this life."

Lookingbill, 37, was the 3rd convicted killer put to death this year in Texas.

"It was one of those cases where the jury had no problem convicting him," said Sophia Arizpe, one of the Hidalgo County district attorneys who prosecuted Lookingbill. "He had the blood spatters on his clothing and his boots, which is consistent with being there when the crime is committed."

Lookingbill grew up in Hidalgo County, dropped out of high school at 11th grade and lived with his parents or grandparents, Adeline and Lorenz Dannenberg. He returned to the Dannenbergs in 1987 after serving less than a year in prison on a burglary conviction.

On Dec. 5, 1989, Lookingbill came home after 1 a.m. from what he said was "a night of partying" that included drinking and snorting cocaine and said he found his grandparents beaten.

"It was pretty upsetting," Lookingbill said.

His grandmother was in bed with fractures to her skull, jaw and hand and bone fragments in her brain. She died 10 days later. Lorenz Dannenberg, 77, was found with similar head injuries on the living room floor. He survived for about a year but was comatose, unable to help police.

Lookingbill also was sentenced to 75 years in prison for attempted capital murder in his grandfather's attack.

Lookingbill said he called police and sought help from the renter of an apartment behind the Dannenbergs' house.

As police questioned Lookingbill, other officers found a 3 1/2-foot-long metal bar covered with blood stains and hair strands in a tool shed behind the Dannenbergs' house. The blood belonged to Lorenz Dannenberg.

Lookingbill, while maintaining he had found his grandparents beaten, eventually signed a confession saying he arrived home "all coked up," beat his grandparents and took more than $500 from his grandmother's purse. Prosecutors said he took the money to buy drugs.

Lookingbill said he thought he was putting his initials on statements regarding his rights and the $568.31 found in his jeans pocket by police that night was earnings from his construction job.

"I didn't have to steal the money to get cocaine," he said. "They were worth more to me than $500."

Arizpe said there was no indication Lookingbill had a bad relationship with his grandparents. Prosecutors focused on his drug use and that he knew the Dannenbergs had money at home, she said.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Alva Curry, 33, 2002-01-28, Texas

An apologetic former gang member and drug dealer was executed tonight for fatally shooting a convenience store clerk during a robbery in Austin more than 11 years ago.

Alva Curry's execution was delayed about 2 hours until the U.S. Supreme Court rejected final appeals in the case.

"I pray with the help of God that you will forgive me for the pain that I have caused your family," he said, looking at relatives of his victims who watched through a window.

"I'm truly sorry. I wish I could take it back. I just pray and ask you forgive me."

He nodded to the warden, then coughed and sputtered as the lethal drugs began taking effect. He was pronounced dead at 8:09 p.m., 8 minutes after the drugs began flowing into his arms.

The slaying was 1 of 2 within a week committed by Curry, 33. Curry was condemned for gunning down David Vela, 20, who was shot 5 times even though he was cooperating with Curry and a companion, Mark Davis. The pair, who got $220 in the robbery, was convicted of a 2nd similar shooting death 7 days later that got them $71.15.

The Oct. 16, 1991, attack on Vela was caught on tape by the store's security camera.

"I don't think I even had a goal," Curry said last week from death row. "I had been drinking but I'm not using that as an excuse."

"He derives sheer pleasure out of preying on the weak," Travis County Assistant District Attorney Robert Smith told jurors who convicted Curry and then decided he should be put to death.

Curry's attorneys contended in last-ditch appeals a judge who has ruled on petitions in his case should have disqualified himself because he was working in the Travis County district attorney's office at the time of Curry's trial, performing research for prosecutors on the case.

"The wrong choices in life took me down a destructive road," Curry, explaining his crimes, said. "I've never looked at this as punishment from God but you reap what you sow. Your choices in life have consequences."

Curry jumped over the store counter and put a gun to Vela's head. When the clerk couldn't open a store safe, he was shot in the head, then shot 4 more times.

A tip to police led to Curry. At his home, detectives found clothing he and Davis wore during the Vela shooting, one of the murder weapons and the cash register drawer.

"I did confess," said Curry, an unemployed restaurant bus boy who at the time of the killings was free on bond for assaulting his sister-in-law.
"I'm the one that has to live with the reality of what happened."

Davis pleaded guilty to murder and robbery and is serving 2 life prison sentences. Curry also was tried for killing Brendon Proske, the 23-year-old clerk in the second robbery, and received a life term.

"There ain't no doubt about it," Curry said when asked about his regret for the crimes and the grief suffered by his family and the families of his victims.

"If you don't feel regretful after that, something is wrong with you," he said.

Another condemned inmate, Richard Dinkins, was set to die Wednesday for a double slaying in Beaumont 12 years ago. Granville Riddle was scheduled for injection Thursday for killing an Amarillo man during a burglary in 1988. Curry becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 293rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Richard Dinkins, 40, 2002-01-29, Texas

A former machinist who wrote bad checks to pay for massage treatment at a Beaumont clinic was executed tonight for gunning down the clinic owner and another woman there nearly 12 1/2 years ago.

Richard Dinkins declined to make a final statement, responding to the warden, "No sir" when asked if he wanted to say anything.

In a written statement, however, he asked for forgiveness and expressed regrets.
"I am sorry for what happened and that it was because of me that they are gone," he said. "If there were any way I could change things and bring them back I would. But I can't."

Dinkins accepted responsibility for the damage his actions caused but said he had made peace with God and hoped that "soon everyone will be able to have closure in their hearts and lives."

Dinkins gasped twice as the lethal drugs began taking effect and was pronounced dead 7 minutes later at 6:18 p.m.

A smoke alarm brought emergency workers to the massage therapy clinic. When they arrived, instead of discovering evidence of a fire, they found the two fatally wounded women.

Dinkins, 40, contended his gun "just went off" during a struggle that left clinic owner and nurse Katherine Thompson, 44, dead.

Prosecutors say the shooting moments later of the 2nd woman, Shelly Cutler, 32, convinced them and jurors that Dinkins should go to death row.

"The thing that stands out is the murder of the second victim," said Paul McWilliams, who prosecuted Dinkins for the double slaying Sept. 12, 1990.

"That's not to diminish in any way what Katherine Thompson went through, but I guess it's one thing to know that someone is trying to kill you."

Evidence showed Cutler, an Idaho-based traveling nurse who was filling out paperwork as a prospective patient when gunfire erupted, ran to an office, closing the door behind her.

"We believe she was trying to call 911, and he reached through the window and shot her," McWilliams said. "What she must have gone through!"

"I saw someone out of the corner of my eye after Ms. Thompson was shot and I heard the door rattling," Dinkins said last week, speaking from a steel-doored cage outside death row. "I didn't know who was there. I could see someone with something in their hand.

"I shot at the door knob to keep whoever was back there from coming out. I didn't know I hit her. It looked like they had ducked."

Dinkins then fled, and the smoke from the gunfire was believed to have tripped the fire alarm.

"When I left there, it was all a blank," he said.

Detectives found Dinkins' name in Thompson's appointment book. He had been a patient but paid Thompson with bad checks. Dinkins contended he went to the clinic to resolve the check dispute but an argument erupted, the 2 wrestled and his .25-caliber pistol, hidden in a sling over his arm, fell out.

"She grabbed and I reached, too," he said last week. "I probably scared her. It just went off. I wasn't thinking right, I'm sure."

The gun then jammed but he said he had another pistol, a .357-caliber Magnum, concealed in a boot.

Both women were shot in the head with the larger weapon. Thompson died shortly after the shooting. Cutler, who had been in Beaumont only nine days, died the following day.

Dinkins lived in nearby Sour Lake and worked as a machinist for a company that made fire hydrants and water valves. He confessed to authorities.

"It was my fault," Dinkins said last week. "I guess you just say -- stupidity."

Police matched his gun to the killings and blood on his clothing to the victims.

"I can't be bitter," he said. "I'm the one who put myself in this situation."

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Granville Riddle, 2002-01-30, Texas

Delivering his final statement in French and English, a burglar who authorities said began his career while in elementary school was executed today for fatally bludgeoning an Amarillo man with a tire iron during a home burglary.

"I love all of you," Granville Riddle said, speaking 1st in French and then in English. "I have no grudges against anyone and I would like to say to the world I have always been a nice person.

"I've never been mean-hearted or cruel. I wish everybody well."

With his Swiss prison bride sobbing and murmuring in French as she watched through a window nearby, Riddle said, "Je t'aime." He then gasped and let out a long breath as the drugs began to take effect.

He was pronounced dead 9 minutes later at 6:17 p.m.

Riddle, 32, didn't deny his involvement in the Oct. 9, 1988, beating death of Ronnie Bennett, 39, but contended he hit Bennett more than a dozen times in self-defense.

"I'm just a normal small town boy," Riddle, who declined to speak with reporters in the week's preceding his execution, said on an Internet Web site devoted to prisoners seeking pen pals. "I am caring and I am considerate."

His record disputed that.

"He's been a problem for law enforcement since he got old enough to even think about being a problem for law enforcement," said Randall Sims, an assistant district attorney in Potter County who indicated Riddle's first burglary was at age 8. "That's not good old country boys. That's prison material."

Besides numerous burglaries, including a church, school and a restaurant where his mother worked, he had arrests for drug possession and auto theft. In April 1988, he was sent to prison after getting a 7-year term for burglary but was paroled after just 2 1/2 months during a time when Texas was experiencing a prison bed shortage.

In November 1988, the then 19-year-old was indicted for capital murder for killing Bennett.

"It was one of the bloodiest crime scenes I've ever seen in 20 years," said Sims, who prosecuted the case. "The (victim's) skull looked like a volleyball that was a sponge, just holes everywhere."

Before arriving at death row, Riddle, from Stinnett, tried escaping from the county jail numerous times -- succeeding once for 3 days. He also attempted to electrify his cell door with wires from his radio and television and was involved in several fights with other inmates.

Evidence at his trial showed Riddle and a friend drove to Bennett's home. He gave conflicting statements, saying he broke in by prying open a screen with the tire iron and later saying he found a door unlocked and went in that way.
Evidence showed a kitchen window had been pried open.

Riddle testified Bennett, who he knew and who he described as drunk, made a sexual advance that angered him, so he responded by hitting the man some 15 times with the tire iron. But evidence showed Bennett at the time of the attack had a blood-alcohol level of 0.29, enough to render him unconscious.

The friend, Brad Bybee, who was waiting outside, testified Riddle called him in, pointed out some items he could steal, then swung the lug wrench -- blunt end 1st -- at Bennett's head, leaving it buried in the dead man's skull.

Bybee reacted in horror and fled. Riddle panicked, grabbed the victim's wallet and drove off in the victim's truck, which was found burned the next day in a ravine near Borger, about 40 miles to the northeast. Bybee was picked up by police and fingered Riddle, who was arrested 5 days later.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    John Elliott, 42, 2002-02-04, Texas

A twice-convicted killer whose dual U.S.-British citizenship earned him support and much publicity in Great Britain was executed tonight for fatally beating an Austin woman after raping her almost 17 years ago.

Asked by the warden if he had anything to say, John Elliott mouthed "No sir" and nodded his head. He then closed his eyes. As the drugs began to take effect, he had a slight snort, cough and gasp before slipping into unconsciousness.

As the lethal drugs continued to flow into his arms, witnesses, including his son and a sister, prayed aloud.

He was pronounced dead at 7:09 p.m. CST, 7 minutes after the drugs started flowing.

Elliott, 42, was on probation after murder and burglary convictions when he was arrested for taking part in a gang rape and then whipping Joyce Munguia, 18, 2 dozens times in the head and face with a chrome-plated motorcycle chain he used as a belt.

Defense lawyers sought to delay the lethal injection, the seventh this year in Texas, with court appeals that sought additional DNA tests. The U.S. Supreme Court denied 2 late requests for stays. Elliott contended he did not kill the woman in the June 13, 1986, attack.

Elliott was born in 1960 in England, where his father was stationed at a U.S. air base, giving him dual citizenship.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw asked Gov. Rick Perry to grant clemency for Elliott and more than 100 ministers of Parliament signed a House of Commons motion demanding clemency.

"It's given my family hope," he told BBC Radio. "It's given us something to hold on for. That's no guarantee it's going to work. There's no guarantee they're not going to execute me."

Elliott, who said his family returned to the United States when he was 6 months old, declined to speak with American-based media but granted interviews with numerous British reporters.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, in a vote completed Tuesday afternoon, rejected requests it recommend the governor issue a commutation, reprieve or conditional pardon to Elliott. In turning down each request, the panel's vote was 18-0.

Evidence at his trial showed Munguia was waiting at a bus stop, engaged in conversation with a group of men, including Elliott, at a nearby house and then went off with them. Over the next few hours they shared beer, liquor and cocaine, and she subsequently had sex with one of them.

According to a witness, she later began crying, was disoriented and asked for help to walk home. Elliott followed her, then carried her under a railroad bridge where he and 2 other men raped her, according to testimony. When she announced she was going to the police, Elliott beat her with his belt made from a chain, one of the men there testified.

His shoe prints were at the murder scene. The two other men, who insisted they did not take part in the slaying, pleaded guilty to rape charges. One received a 10-year prison term, the other 15 years. Elliott got death.

Elliott told the BBC he was the victim of zealous prosecutors.

"Sometimes they'll take certain facts and stretch them," he said.

But he acknowledged his criminal past "made it easy for them to do that. I should have led a different life but it's hard for me to go back."

In 1982, he went to prison for killing a man in a bar brawl. He was convicted again in 1984 of attempted burglary. But in an era when Texas prisons were overcrowded because of a space shortage, he was released under mandatory supervision after only 4 1/2 months of his 8-year sentence for murder, then received probation for the burglary.

"It's terribly frustrating to me," said Juan Gonzalez, an Austin police commander who as a homicide sergeant investigated the 1986 killing. "The poor girl probably would still be alive if he had been in (prison) where he should have been...

"If you think execution is not a deterrent, this is a classic case."

At least 2 other British citizens condemned for murder have been executed in the United States, in 1995 and last year, both in Georgia.

Elliott becomes the 7th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 296th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Kenneth Kenley, 42, 2002-02-05, Missouri

Kenneth Kenley, who murdered a pool player to show he meant business while robbing a crowded tavern 19 years ago, was executed by injection early today in the Potosi Correctional Center.

Kenley, 42, was condemned for shooting Ronnie Felts on Jan. 4, 1984, in the old Blue Moon tavern just south of Poplar Bluff, Mo. Felts, a 27-year-old father of 2 children, was playing pool with friends when Kenley burst in and announced a holdup.

Kenley was pronounced dead at 12:03 a.m. today. Kenley appeared to speak to his relatives and friends through the window separating him from the witnesses. After he lost consciousness, a woman in that group began weeping loudly.

Lawyers for Kenley asked Gov. Bob Holden to commute his sentence to life without parole. They also filed last-ditch appeals with federal courts, arguing that Kenley was mentally unfit to be executed.

But Holden declined to intervene about 11 p.m., shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court turned down the appeal.

Kenley met Tuesday with relatives. 2 cousins, an uncle and an in-law were prepared to witness on his behalf.

Phyllis Manns, who is Ronnie Felts' widow, and their children, Mark Van Meter and Melissa Felts, all of Poplar Bluff, were to witness from a nearby area for the victim's family.

Regina Sanders, a step-aunt to Kenley, spoke to him by telephone Tuesday.
"He said, 'If they're going to do it, they're going to do it,'" said Sanders, of Greenville, Texas. "I asked him why he did (the murder). He said, "I had a death wish.'"

Kenley never claimed innocence. Numerous witnesses testified that he rushed into the tavern shortly after midnight and ordered everyone onto the floor. Aiming his .38-caliber revolver at Felts, Kenley shouted, "I'll make an example of you," and shot him in the head. He also wounded the bartender and tried to kidnap the female owner.

An hour earlier, Kenley had robbed a convenience store and abducted a customer, and he shot and wounded her as she fled. He tried to rob a motel after he left the Blue Moon and was arrested later that morning in Corning, Ark., when he tried to switch getaway cars.

Kenley received the death penalty in a trial in Poplar Bluff. A federal judge ordered a new hearing on sentencing, and Kenley was condemned again after a rehearing in Rolla, Mo., in 1994.

Kenley becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Missouri and the 60th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1989. Missouri trails only Texas (296) and Virginia (87) in the number of executions carried out since the death penalty was re-legalized in the USA on July 2, 1976.

There are 63 other men awaiting execution at the Potosi prison.

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

    Henry Dunn Jr., 28, 2002-02-05, Texas

An apologetic Henry Dunn Jr. was executed Thursday night for participating in the fatal shooting of a Tyler man who was abducted and targeted for robbery because he was gay.

Strapped to the death chamber gurney, he expressed love for his family and asked for forgiveness from his victim's relatives.

"I hope you can find it in your heart to find forgiveness and strength, to move on and find peace," Dunn said, looking at Nicolas West's sister, brother and brother-in-law.

As the drugs began taking effect, Dunn let out a long, slight gasp. He was pronounced dead at 6:15 p.m., 6 minutes after the lethal dose began.

In a written statement released following his death, he complained that the death penalty in Texas is "broke." He said unqualified attorneys were appointed for him under state law.

"Texas has executed innocent people, and tonight, Texas has shown just how broke and unfair its system is," he said.

Dunn accused the state of having no clemency and urged politicians to work to "fix the Texas justice system" and continue to "work for a moratorium on the death penalty in Texas."

In the signed statement, he urged his family and friends to "continue to struggle and fight against the death penalty as its only use has been for revenge and it does not deter crime."

The former fast-food restaurant worker acknowledged being present when the 23-year-old West was gunned down near Tyler more than 9 years ago. But he said a companion also sent to death row primarily was to blame for the gay-bashing hate crime.

"I don't hate homosexuals," Dunn, who was 19 at the time of the killing, said last week. "That's their right to be that way if they want to."

Donald Aldrich, now 38, also is on death row for the West slaying. A third man, David Ray McMillan, who was 17 when the crime occurred Nov. 30, 1993, received a life prison term.

"I did admit to being at the crime scene," Dunn said in a death row interview. "I'm not saying I'm responsible."

The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday afternoon refused to review the case and halt the execution. Dunn was one day away from injection last May when the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stopped his punishment so it could consider an appeal.

Authorities believed Aldrich, on parole after a pair of burglary and robbery convictions, was the leader of what became know as the "CB gang" because they 1st became acquainted over CB radios. The gang for months preyed on homosexuals in the Tyler area.

West, a medical clerk, was abducted from a Tyler park known as a homosexual meeting spot. Taken to a remote area of Smith County, he was stripped, ordered to his knees and shot as many as 15 times.

Dunn called it "a crime that got out of control."

Aldrich had lured West under the guise of seeking sex, then drove away with him. Dunn said he and McMillan were waiting nearby. According to a plan carried out several times before, Dunn and McMillan followed them out of town where the trio then could rob the unsuspecting victim.

"Aldrich was mad because the dude didn't give him all his money," Dunn said.

"It was a deliberate, preplanned, cold-blooded kidnapping and murder," Smith County District Attorney Jack Skeen said. "This wasn't an isolated incident by them in these types of attacks but the violence stepped up in this one and went all the way to kidnaping and murder."

Aldrich at his trial blamed Dunn for starting the gunfire. Dunn replied from death row he could "not positively say" he did any shooting.

Evidence, however, showed he used a .357-caliber Magnum and his shot to West's head was the last of the more than a dozen bullets and a shotgun blast fired into the victim.

West's body was found 2 days later. Dunn was arrested driving West's truck.

Dunn was among 7 death row inmates who tried to escape from prison Thanksgiving night 1998. Only one, Martin Gurule, cleared a pair of fences that surrounded the Ellis Unit prison northeast of Huntsville. He was found drowned a week later, still on prison property.

Dunn and the other 5 were stopped by the razor-tipped wire fences and gunfire from corrections officers.

As a result of the escape, death row was moved to the more restrictive Polunsky Unit near Livingston, about 45 miles east of Huntsville.(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Richard E. Fox, 47, 2002-02-12, Ohio

In Lucasville, a man who lured a college student to her death with the promise of a job was executed Wednesday.

Richard E. Fox, 47, was executed by injection after being refused clemency and a chance to argue for re-sentencing. His attorneys said a week earlier that no more appeals would be filed.

He was pronounced dead at 10:13 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.

Fox kidnapped, stabbed and strangled Leslie Keckler, 18, of Bowling Green, on Sept. 26, 1989. Her body was found 4 days later in a ditch near the northwest Ohio city. He was convicted in 1990 of aggravated murder and kidnapping.

Fox had confessed. Gov. Bob Taft last week refused to grant clemency, saying there was no doubt that Fox was guilty.

Greg Meyers, chief of the Ohio Public Defender's death penalty section, said then that there were no more legal issues to appeal.

Fox had lived in the northwest Ohio town of Tontogany.

Authorities said Fox found Keckler, a student at Owens Community College near Toledo, through an application she filled out at the restaurant where he worked.

After an initial meeting in hotel lobby, Keckler got into Fox's car so that they could check out businesses where supplies could be sold.

In a rural area outside of Bowling Green, Fox started making advances. Keckler fought him and tried to open the car door. But he pulled her back, pulled her coat over her head and stabbed her 6 times in the back.

He then drove to a secluded road where, he told police, he strangled her with a rope "just to make sure she was dead."

Prosecutors said Fox repeatedly used deception to lure women in the years before the murder. However, his attorneys said he used trickery to meet women, not to kill them.

His attorneys argued that Fox was not the "worst of the worst" criminals for whom the death penalty is intended.

They also said he should have been re-sentenced because guidelines used in his case later were declared flawed by the Ohio Supreme Court. The high court refused to delay the execution to hear the sentencing issue.

Fox becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Ohio and the 6th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1999.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Bobby Joe Fields, 39, 2002-02-13, Oklahoma

In McAlester, Bobby Joe Fields died Thursday for the 1993 fatal shooting of a 77-year-old Oklahoma City woman, executed despite a clemency recommendation from the state parole board.

Fields died at 6:05 p.m., 3 minutes after receiving a lethal dose of drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester for killing Louise J. Schem during a burglary March 2, 1993.

Fields, 39, smiled at his sister, Geraldine Banks, and his cousin, then told his 2 attorneys witnessing the execution to "stay strong. You all keep fighting.

"Cousin, if you can, try to look after my boy," Fields said of his estranged son during his final statement. Then to Banks: "Baby girl, stay strong and hold the family together. I love you all."

Banks wept and buried her face into her handkerchief as Fields' eyes slowly closed and his head jerked slightly before he became still.

No one on Schem's behalf watched Fields' execution.

Fields' execution came despite the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board's Jan. 6 recommendation that his sentence be commuted to life in prison - just the board's 5th clemency recommendation since 1995.

Gov. Brad Henry, in his 1st death penalty review, denied clemency. Fields was originally to be executed Jan. 13, but former Gov. Frank Keating issued a 30-day reprieve to give Henry time to consider the clemency recommendation.

"Bobby Joe Fields was properly convicted and sentenced," Attorney General Drew Edmondson said. "His appeals have been exhausted and the governor has rightfully denied clemency. It is time the execution is carried out."

Fields' attorneys argued during the clemency hearing that Fields should be spared because he had no advance intention of killing Schem. The board voted 3-1 in favor of clemency, with one abstention.

"I understand how the governor has made his decision, but my initial review was that that was not his (Fields') intent, to cause bodily harm," said parole board chairwoman Stephanie Chappelle, who voted for clemency.

But parole board member Susan Bussey, who voted against clemency, said there was nothing presented during the hearing that warranted commuting Fields' sentence.

After a night of drinking and using cocaine, Fields broke into Schem's Oklahoma City house to steal her television, when she walked in with a gun, court records say. Fields and Schem scuffled over the weapon, spilling out onto the sidewalk where Fields shot Schem in the back of the neck as she tried to flee, records say.

Fields and his first attorney, a public defender, expected an Oklahoma County judge to give him life in prison without parole when he pleaded guilty to 1st-degree murder in 1994. But Judge James L. Gullett ordered capital punishment after the sentencing hearing. The attorney, Catherine Burton, who's now in private practice, was too upset about Fields' execution to comment, her secretary said.

Fields dined on $15 worth of food just before 1 p.m. Thursday as he waited for his execution. The state limits final meals to $15.

Daniel Juan Revilla, 34, of Altus, was executed Jan. 16 for the 1986 death of his girlfriend's baby. Execution dates have been set this year for 6 more inmates.

Fields becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma, the 57th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990, and the 140th in the state's history.

(sources: The Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Richard Head Williams,,2002-02-25, Texas

A convicted burglar, arsonist and rapist was executed Tuesday night for fatally slashing and stabbing a wheelchair-bound woman in Houston less than a month after he got out of prison 6 years ago.

Richard Head Williams was contrite and took responsibility for his crimes in a final statement seconds before the lethal drugs began flowing into his arms.

"I'd like to apologize for all the pain I've caused," he said. Looking at 3 brothers of his victim, "I'm sorry I caused what happened to your sister. I apologize."

He expressed love to his family and while acknowledging he made mistakes said, "I was not a monster like they claimed I was. I made a mistake and this mistake cost - but they won't cost no more."

He gasped and wheezed several times as the drugs began taking effect and was pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m., 7 minutes after the injection began.

However, in a written statement released after his death, Williams complained about the criminal justice system in Texas that was supposed "to protect and uphold what is just and right."

He added that the justice system has shown it's "just as crooked as I am said to be."

In an interview earlier this month, Williams said he never saw or knew the victim, Jeanette Williams, 44, and that his criminal past earned him the trip to death row. The victim was not related to Williams.

"The way I look at it, the whole trial was rehearsed," he said then. "They used everything I did in my life against me.

"It had nothing to do with my case, but that's the way the system is designed, to get railroaded. I'm just a dumb black man with no money, caught in the system."

"Then why did he give that confession?" said Vanessa Velasquez, the Harris County district attorney who prosecuted Williams. "I had hoped he would reconcile with his own guilt. That's unfortunate. I think he was a cold-blooded killer."

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a late appeal for a stay. Williams' attorneys insisted he was mentally retarded and could not be put to death because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that barred execution of the mentally retarded.

At his trial, testimony showed his IQ at age 6 was 93, well above the threshold of 70 for mental retardation, and an education diagnostician testifying for his defense acknowledged under cross-examination Williams was not retarded.

"I'm not the brightest person in the world but I'm not the dumbest person in the world," Williams said.

Authorities said Williams, who acknowledged being locked up most of the time since 1981, was given $400 to kill Jeanette Williams by a couple who had been caring for her intermittently and had taken out a $25,000 life insurance policy on her. Jeanette Williams was a crack addict who was paralyzed after she was shot by her husband 21 years earlier.

Prosecutors said Richard Williams, who was promised $12,000 for the job, used a 9-inch steak knife supplied by the couple, Bruce and Michelle Gilmore, to kill the woman March 24, 1997 as she wheeled down a Houston street.

"He slit a woman's throat who couldn't walk, was a paraplegic, from ear to ear, on a dark street," Velasquez said. "She fell out of the chair but that wasn't enough. He had to continue stabbing her. She was found laying in the road like a wounded dead animal, with her wheelchair thrown to the side."

"I ain't did nothing to nobody," Williams contended, insisting he was in Louisiana at the time of the slaying, never received any money for the killing and "didn't know no Gilmores."

"The whole thing is a setup," he said, also blaming his earlier incarcerations for "being at the wrong place at the wrong time."

"There were cases I had nothing to do with, but I'm not a snitch," he said. "I wasn't going to rat on anyone."

While in prison with a 10-year term for sexual assault, burglary and arson, records showed he had more than 100 disciplinary violations, including assaults and threats on corrections officers. He was discharged Feb. 28, 1997. Jeanette Williams was killed 24 days later.

Bruce and Michelle Gilmore were convicted of capital murder for their part in the scheme and are serving life prison terms.

Earlier Tuesday, a Dallas-area man, Michael Johnson, won a reprieve from a federal appeals court that halted his scheduled Wednesday execution for the 1995 fatal shooting of a gas station clerk near Waco.

(sources: (Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Amos King,48, 2003-02-26, Florida

Amos King, maintaining his innocence to the end, was executed Wednesday by lethal injection for the rape and murder of a Tarpon Springs woman almost 26 years ago.
King, 48, was condemned for the 1977 killing of Natalie Brady, 68, who lived near a Tarpon Springs corrections center, where King was a workrelease inmate. He then set fire to her home.

King was pronounced dead at 6:43 p.m., the governor's office said.

King was caught trying to get back into the prison at about the same time firefighters and police arrived at Brady's home. He fought with a counselor, James McDonough, who was stabbed 15 times with a knife that witnesses said apparently came from Brady's kitchen.

"I would like the governor and the family to know I am an innocent man and the state had evidence to that effect," King said in his final statement Wednesday. "I'm sorry for the victim's family, for all the things we have gone through.:

2 of Brady's nieces were crying in the front row as King thanked his attorney, Peter Cannon. His execution was scheduled for 6 p.m., but delayed by last minute appeals, said Bush spokeswoman Liz Hirst. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected King's last appeal there 30 minutes after his execution was scheduled.

A flurry of appeals was also filed in the Florida Supreme Court, with the last motion arriving after 6 p.m. The state high court, which had rejected an appeal from King late Monday, didn't rule on the new appeals before his execution.

King also lost recent appeals in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta and in the federal court in Tampa.

King contended in a Tuesday interview that he was the victim of racism, circumstances, perjured testimony, and ignored and lost evidence. He maintained his innocence in Brady's murder, saying, "I am not confessing to anything I did not do."

King had survived execution attempts by 3 governors.

Gov. Bob Graham signed King's 1st warrant in 1981, followed by Gov. Bob Martinez in 1988. King also survived 4 execution dates last year on a warrant signed by Bush.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)


     Amos King wanted to hear some noise at his execution.

As the deadly chemicals from a lethal injection rushed through the death-row veterans body, more than 30 local and national death penalty opponents waved makeshift noisemakers outside Florida State Prison on Wednesday night.

King, who raped and murdered 68-year-old Natalie Brady in 1977, requested supporters not remain silent during the scheduled execution.

"We're going to make noise we hope he will hear," said Bonnie Flassig, a member of Gainesville Citizens for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. "If not, we hope others will hear. That's his only request."

Supporters jabbed life-size posters condemning the execution into the ground and shook bells, chimes and maracas on a field across the street from the prisons entrance.

The whistling and chants of opposition continued for more than an hour, including a 30-minute delay while state officials awaited Florida and U.S. supreme court's denial of a 7th stay of execution for King.

About 20 footsteps away, 2 men stood cross-armed on the other side of a gold rope, silently supporting the execution.

Philip Prevatt's sister Betty was killed 15 years ago with a shot to the head, but her killer was never sentenced, he said. Because of his own family's suffering, Prevatt said he thinks lethal injection isnt a fair enough punishment for convicted murderers.

"Let them feel a little bit of pain," Prevatt, of Lawtey said. "They'll feel that neck snap. A little pain for what theyve done."

King's 6 stays, which have spanned 3 Florida governors since his conviction 25 years ago, demonstrate the problems in the judicial process, he said.

"That little old lady (Brady) didn't even get one stay," said Prevatt, who has never been to the prison in support of execution.

Death penalty opponent Bill Pelke, of Alaska, joined the loud protests, although his grandmother was killed by a teenager who is serving a life sentence in Indiana.

"The death penalty just continues the cycle of violence," he said. Pelke chanted a repetitious chorus of "Not in our name" with the group until a white van full of witnesses to the execution exited the prison.

"This may be a pattern for the future," Flassig said. "It makes much more sense to be loud in opposition when someone is being executed."

King was pronounced dead at 6:43 p.m.

There was lingering doubt, even in the mind of [Gov. Bush] himself, said Kevin Malone, King's spiritual adviser. "This is inhumane, cruel and barbaric. What happened here tonight will bring no closure."

Death penalty supporter Norman Traylor said the execution doesn't heal a family's wounds but serves as a deterrent to potential criminals.

"It's not good to see anybody die," said Traylor, whose cousin, correctional officer Fred Griffiths, was murdered in 1986 by a prison inmate. "But when you take another's life, when you kill unmercifully, there has to be a certain amount of justice."

2 of Brady's nieces witnessed Kings execution and described the years of set and stayed executions as an emotional roller coaster.

"It's not a happy time for any of us, but its a relief," said Peggy Scheerer, Brady's niece.

(source: The Florida Alligator)

     Bobby Glen Cook, 41, 2002,03- A convicted burglar and thief paroled from prison numerous times apologized and then was executed Tuesday for robbing and fatally shooting a sleeping East Texas fisherman 10 years ago.

In a brief statement, Bobby Glen Cook said he would like to tell his victim's family that he knows "they've got grief and I know with this execution it will not be any relief to them. With my death, it will just remind them of their loved one." None of the victim's relatives were there to witness the execution.

Cook asked for forgiveness and repeated his assertion that the shooting was in self-defense.

"I was never able to get up on the stand to tell them," he continued, his voice choking with emotion. "I know this is wrong, but I'm going home to the Lord."

He gasped slightly as the drugs began taking effect. 8 minutes later, at 6:20 p.m., he was pronounced dead.

Cook, 41, of Corsicana, had been free for 10 months on his fourth parole when he was arrested for the slaying of Edwin Earl Holder, 42, of Buffalo.

Cook's appeals were exhausted.

"I've never been violent," he said in a recent interview. "Just thefts."

At the time of the slaying, Cook had 5 convictions -- 3 for burglary and 2 for theft -- had been to prison 4 times and was paroled 4 times, committing another crime each time while on parole.

"When people are speaking of the mythical nonviolent offender who can be released with no adverse consequence, one has to at least think there may be a Bobby Cook among those nonviolent offenders," Gerald Garrett, chairman of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, said. "His record was really amazing to look at, the number of opportunities he was afforded to get his life together before ultimately going down a path of extreme violence."

"Our argument was he was a repeat offender and he continued to victimize individuals," Pamela Foster Fletcher, one of the prosecutors at Cook's capital murder trial, said Tuesday. "The system isn't perfect but it's best system we have."

Holder failed to return from a fishing trip on the Trinity River and his body was found Feb. 8, 1993 inside a sleeping bag in the bed of his pickup truck, partially submerged in the river near Cayuga in Anderson County, about 75 miles southeast of Dallas. He had been shot 6 times in the head.

Holder's boat also was sunk, but the motor and a couple of lanterns were missing along with his wallet and $21.

Cook and 2 companions, Stephen Ray Cockroft and Robin Jenkins, both of Dawson, were arrested a few days later at Cockroft's home after a witness described Cockroft's truck leaving the area where Holder's body was found. Cockroft was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life. Jenkins testified against Cook and received a 15-year term.

"It was self-defense," Cook said, describing the shooting from a closet-like cage in the visiting area of death row. "The dude pulled a gun on me."

Cook said the .22-caliber chrome-plated pistol misfired and he grabbed it, then fired at Holder.

"If the gun hadn't misfired, I'd be dead," he said.

Fletcher called the slaying senseless, said there was no evidence to support Cook's version of events and that evidence instead pointed to Holder being asleep in his sleeping bag when he was shot. Wounds to his head were in a close pattern, fired no more than 3 feet away, and there was no sign of a struggle.

"I think the punishment fits the crime and his past history," she said.

Cook said he threw the .22-caliber chrome-plated pistol into the river. It never was found. As for the $21, "I think I spent it on gas," he said.

Cook blamed his burglary sprees on a need for money to support a methamphetamine habit.

"At that time, and with those drugs, you didn't care," he said. "I wish this never happened."

Cook becomes the 10th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 299th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982. It was the 60th execution in Texas since Rick Perry became governor.

     Michal Eugene Thompson, 43, 2003-03-13, Alabama

In Atmore, Michael Eugene Thompson was executed by lethal injection Thursday for the 1984 murder of an Attalla store clerk who was abducted, forced into a well and shot to death.

Thompson, 43, became the 2nd Alabama inmate executed by lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court turned back his attorney's petition claiming Gov. Bob Riley failed to hold a proper clemency hearing.

Thompson was pronounced dead at 7 p.m., an hour after his execution was scheduled. Prisons spokesman Brian Corbett said the procedure didn't begin until 6:37 p.m. because doctors couldn't find a vein where they could insert the IV into Thompson's arm. Officials at Holman Prison near Atmore also had to wait for word that the U.S. Supreme Court had denied Thompson's petition for a stay.

Thompson was convicted in the abduction and shooting death of Maisie Carlene Gray, 57, who had been working at the Attalla convenience store about 3 weeks when she was robbed and forced into a car trunk on Dec. 10, 1984.

He made no final statement, but mouthed the words "I love you" to a friend, Mary Ann Gardner. Gardner, a death penalty opponent from Roswell, Ga., had asked Gov. Bob Riley to grant clemency to Thompson.

None of Thompson's family attended the execution, though he met with about 15 visitors Thursday, including his mother, 3 brothers and a spiritual adviser. He was served a last meal at about 1:15 p.m. and appeared in good spirits, Corbett said.

Evelyn Elliott, Gray's daughter, said she was disappointed that Thompson showed no remorse toward her or her 2 brothers who watched him die.

"He did not look in our direction or offer any apology," Elliott said. "It was horrible ... but if anyone deserved to die, it was him."

Attorneys for Thompson had skipped a clemency hearing with Riley on Tuesday, saying the governor made comments over the weekend that showed he had already made up his mind the execution should take place.

Thompson's attorneys chose instead to appeal to the state Supreme Court, which denied their request for a stay and an order that a clemency hearing be provided before an impartial person.

In earlier rounds of appeal, Thompson's attorneys had argued their client was provided inadequate counsel during trial, including that his lawyers assumed Thompson was guilty, said attorney Marjorie Smith.

Those arguments were rejected in federal appeals court.

"If you're defending somebody you don't start out by saying `Yeah, he did this,"' she said.

According to court records, Thompson forced the store clerk into his car trunk and drove to Blount County, where he made her get into a well and then shot into the well until he ran out of ammunition. Then he drove to pick up his girlfriend, obtained more ammunition, and fired 7 or 8 more shots into the well to make sure Gray was dead, according to court records.

Elliott, of Attalla, said she and her family are still unsure what prompted the robbery that resulted in her mother's murder. She has said that Thompson has claimed he wanted money to buy Christmas presents, but the family questions that.

Thompson becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Alabama and the 26th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on April 22, 1983.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Louis Jones Jr., 53, 2003-03-18, Federal

In Terre Haute, a decorated Gulf War veteran who claimed his exposure to Iraqi nerve gas caused him to rape and kill a female soldier was executed by injection Tuesday at a federal prison.

Louis Jones Jr., 53, died by injection at the U.S. Penitentiary near Terre Haute after President Bush and the U.S. Supreme Court refused his 2 final requests that they intervene.

Jones, who had no prior criminal record, admitted kidnapping 19-year-old Pvt. Tracie Joy McBride from a Texas Air Force base, raping her and beating her to death with a tire iron. His attorneys said exposure to the gas caused severe brain damage that led him to kill.

"Today was a day of justice for Tracie," Irene McBride, the victim's mother, said after she witnessed the execution. "Today Louis Jones finally was made accountable for his actions, and today he will meet his ultimate judge."

"Everybody is glad this is over. It's been a long 8 years," she said. "The healing is not over; it's just beginning."

In Jones' final moments, he looked toward the room where the witnesses he had selected were watching and mouthed the words, "I love you." He did not look toward the room where McBride's family watched.

Asked by prison officials whether he had a last statement, Jones said: "Although the Lord hath chastised me forth, he hath not given me over unto death."

He then began singing a hymn with the refrain, "In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever 'til my raptured soul shall find rest beyond the river."

Jones was declared dead at 7:08 a.m.

As the execution time neared, about a dozen death penalty opponents held a candlelight vigil near the prison. No death penalty supporters were present.

A sign leaning against a fence in front of the group said, "The tragic irony: As we rush recklessly to war with Iraq we are killing a veteran of the 1st Gulf War."

The White House and the high court refused Monday to block the execution after reviewing Jones' nerve gas claims. White House officials declined to explain Bush's decision, and the court did not comment.

Attorney Timothy Floyd said his client had been hopeful as he awaited word on whether Bush would consider his request to commute his death sentence to life in prison.

"He was really remarkably strong and I think at peace with whatever happens. I attribute that to his deep faith -- I think that's sustained him through this," Floyd said before Bush's decision was announced.

Federal prosecutors and McBride's family in Centerville, Minn., opposed Jones' clemency request, pointing to evidence of his aggressive behavior before the Gulf War, including 4 incidents in which he beat up co-workers or fellow soldiers.

Following his Gulf War service, Jones was promoted to master sergeant and honored with a Meritorious Service Award. Jones killed McBride in 1995, 2 years after his honorable discharge from the Army.

The federal government handled the prosecution because McBride was abducted from a military base. During his trial, defense experts testified Jones suffered brain damage from abuse as a child and post-traumatic stress from his combat tours.

In December 2000, after his conviction, the Pentagon informed Jones that he, along with about 130,000 other soldiers, may have been exposed to low levels of nerve gas wafting from a weapons depot troops destroyed near the southern Iraqi city of Khamisiyah in March 1991.

Jones becomes the 3rd condemned inmate -- after Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and drug kingpin Juan Garza -- put to death by the federal government since it resumed executions in 2001 after a 38-year suspension.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Walanzo Deon Robinson, 31, 2003-03-18, Oklahoma

Walanzo Deon Robinson was executed Tuesday for the 1989 killing of a rival Oklahoma City drug dealer who was shot three times in the street.

Robinson, 31, died at 6:10 p.m. after receiving a lethal dose of drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. He had been convicted of 1st-degree murder for killing Dennis Hill May 19, 1989.

"It's been a long 13 years of waiting, pain and stress for me," Anthony Lee, Hill's brother, said in a statement. "And now the time has come when my mind can be free, but Dennis can still be in my heart."

The execution was carried out after the U.S. Supreme Court denied Robinson's last-ditch appeal Tuesday without comment. His previous appeals had also all been denied.

Robinson had alleged in Monday's appeal that racial bias led the jury to give him the death sentence and that the evidence used to convict him was circumstantial and filled with discrepancy.

"Walanzo Robinson was properly convicted and sentenced," Attorney General Drew Edmondson said in a statement. "His appeals have been exhausted and the Pardon and Parole Board has rightfully denied clemency. It is time the execution is carried out."

Robinson, who was 18 at the time, and Hill were arguing over who could sell cocaine on a northeast Oklahoma City street corner when Robinson pulled out a handgun, witnesses said.

Robinson shot Hill, 26, in the back as he tried to run away, then shot him twice more as he lay in the street asking someone to call an ambulance, according to witnesses.

"It is absolutely cold-blooded," said Gary Ackley, who prosecuted Robinson for the Oklahoma County District Attorney's office. "He swept away the life of Mr. Hill the way you would swipe away a fly that's bothering you. People with that little regard for human life don't deserve to live."

Robinson's appeal said a lone black juror switched her vote in favor of death only after some white jurors intimidated her and referred to her with racial slurs, like "Little Miss Slave Trader."

Robinson's attorneys used the same argument in unsuccesfully asking for clemency. The juror, Marcia Davidson, did not testify during the clemency hearing, leaving Robinson to rely on 2nd-hand accounts of her allegations.

Edmondson responded to Robinson's court appeal Tuesday, citing other jurors' testimony that they heard no such abuse during the deliberations, a spokeswoman said.

Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board members denied clemency March 12, with three voting against it, one abstaining and the other recusing herself. It was the newly appointed board's 1st clemency case.

Helen Lee-Hawkins, Hill's sister, recalled Hill as a fishing enthusiast, who enjoyed reading the newspaper and detailing cars. Hill was also close to her son, she said.

"Walanzo showed no emotions, no sympathy or a care in the world for his behavior," Lee-Hawkins wrote in a letter to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.

Robinson becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma, and the 58th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990. Robinson becomes the 141st condemned inmate to be put to death in Oklahoma's history.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

    Keith Clay, 35, 2003--02-20, Texas

In Huntsville, an apologetic Keith Clay was executed tonight, becoming the 300th inmate put to death in Texas since the state resumed the death penalty 20 years ago.

In a brief statement, Clay asked God to "forgive me of every single solitary sin I have committed these 35 years I have lived upon this Earth."

Then Clay looked at 3 members of his victim's family, who were watching through a nearby window, and asked them for forgiveness. "I know you have suffered a great loss and I am truly, truly sorry. ...There is not a day that I have not prayed for you," he said.

Clay then turned to his mother, watching through an adjacent window. He told her he loved her and said "The Lord is my shepherd. Let everyone know that I love them. This is not goodbye. I will see you later."

His mother, Cynthia Smith, smiled and flashed 2 thumbs up to him.

He began praying softly to himself as the drugs began taking effect. He gasped 3 times. His eyes briefly widened and rolled back before his eyes closed. 8 minutes later at 6:23 p.m., he was pronounced dead.

Clay's execution came a week after another inmate, Delma Banks, avoided lethal injection and the notoriety of No. 300 when he won a last-minute reprieve from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Clay, 35, was condemned for fatally shooting a convenience store clerk during a 1994 robbery in Baytown, just east of Houston. The Supreme Court last week refused to review his case and the state parole board refused to consider a clemency petition because it was filed 15 days too late.

"Whatever God's will is for my life I'm going to accept," Clay said from death row last week. "I refer to my faith. Lord Jesus, he was wrongly convicted for something he didn't do and paid the price."

Clay's injection keeps Texas on a pace to surpass the record 40 lethal injections carried out in 2000. Another is scheduled for next week and 3 more are scheduled for April.

Texas accounts for more than 1/3 of the 838 executions in the United States since 1976 when the death penalty resumed under a Supreme Court ruling. Virginia is 2nd with 87.

It took nearly 13 years for Texas to reach 100 executions, 4 years get to No. 200 and now, as the appeals process has become more streamlined, just over 3 to reach the 300th.

Clay's case failed to generate the kind of attention paid last week to Banks, who contended he was wrongly convicted of a 1980 slaying near Texarkana. Banks' appeals were bolstered by the backing of 3 former federal judges, including former FBI director William Sessions.

Clay, an acknowledged former drug dealer who authorities said also was involved in a triple slaying in 1993, attracted no similar support.

Clay was convicted of killing store clerk Melathethil Tom Varughese, who came to the United States from India a year earlier, in a $2,000 robbery.

"I'm not happy to see someone put to death, but I know that the trial was a fair trial, he was represented by good counsel and it was a horrible crime," said Marie Munier, the Harris County district attorney who prosecuted Clay.

"I think it's justice. It's not that it makes me happy at all, but it's just the price he will pay for his actions."

Clay denied participating in the Varughese killing and denied any role in the Christmas Eve 1993 fatal shootings of 3 people, including 2 children, at a Baytown home. He was not tried for the triple slayings although a companion was sent to death row.

Clay said he was outside the Baytown store where Varughese worked and in a car when the clerk was gunned down Jan. 4, 1994. A witness, however, identified Clay as the gunman. Evidence showed his gun was one of the 2 used in the shooting.

"I've been praying for the victim's family, for my family," Clay said from death row. "With regard to me being down here, if there's one thing I could put my finger on, it would be decisions were made that bring about consequences, whether good or bad. What you do or say not only affects your life but others as well."

Banks' case, tried 2 years before Texas made Charlie Brooks in 1982 the 1st condemned inmate to die by injection, has been in the courts for more than 2 decades. But Clay, with less than 6 years on death row, is more typical of capital murder convicts condemned in recent years after death penalty laws underwent court scrutiny and newly enacted laws limited appeals, mandated stricter deadlines for filing them and allowed for simultaneous state and federal appeals.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     John Michael Hooker, 49 , 2003-03-25, Oklahoma

In McAlester, a man convicted of stabbing his girlfriend and her mother to death in 1988 was put to death Tuesday.

John Michael Hooker, 49, was pronounced dead at 6:07 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

The U.S. Supreme Court late Tuesday afternoon denied without comment a habeas corpus appeal and a request for an emergency stay filed by Hooker's attorney.

Hooker was executed almost 15 years after stabbing Sylvia Stokes, 28, and Drusilla Morgan, 53, so many times on March 27, 1988, they bled internally until they died.

As the curtains in the death chamber were drawn, Hooker smiled at those who came to witness on his behalf.

"To all my family and friends, I'm all hooked up," he said. "I can't even move.

"I'm at peace. Y'all stay up. I'm out."

Once the execution began, Hooker looked up at the ceiling and his eyes blinked. He grunted several times, making a snoring sound and his head and feet fidgeted before he let out a long breath and went still.

"Oh, daddy," his pregnant daughter said, weeping uncontrollably. "I'm OK," she said as family members tried to console her.

He was pronounced dead 2 minutes later.

The victims' family members did not speak to reporters after the execution, but Leonard Stokes, the son and brother of the two victims, released a statement.

"I am feeling a sense of relief and like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders personally," he said. "I can finally move on with my life and so can my family. Now I can focus on what is important to me and that is my family.

"We will always love and remember them. They may be gone physically, but they will never be far from our hearts or our minds."

Stokes, the mother of Hooker's three young children, had moved out of the Oklahoma City apartment she shared with Hooker a week before the murders. She had told her sister she feared Hooker would hurt her and the children.

After Stokes and Morgan went back to the apartment to pick up clothing and food for the children, witnesses reported hearing loud noises coming from the residence. Hooker was later seen with blood on his clothes.

March 27, 1988, was the day Sylvia Stokes had wanted Hooker out of the apartment they shared with their children.

About a week before, she had taken the children and moved in with her mother, telling her sister, Cynthia, she feared Hooker would do them all harm.

According to witnesses, Hooker entered the apartment that day shortly before Sylvia Stokes and Morgan went there to pick up some clean clothes and food for the children.

Residents who lived in the apartment below Hooker's said they heard loud noises, and later saw Hooker with blood on his clothing.

When Cynthia and her sister, Crystal, went to check on their relatives the following day, Cynthia had trouble getting into Hooker's apartment.

She managed to push the door open slightly, looked in and saw her mother on the floor surrounded by a pool of blood.

Sylvia Stokes was stabbed 8 times and Morgan 12, causing internal bleeding that killed them.

About 5 months prior, Sylvia Stokes had sought a victim's protective order against Hooker, but the couple reconciled and planned to marry in February 1988. They broke up again.

In 2001, officials re-examined DNA evidence in Hooker's case because it originally had been handled by Oklahoma City police chemist Joyce Gilchrist. Investigators retested DNA evidence submitted in all of Gilchrist's cases after officials accused her of performing shoddy work.

Results of the retesting showed that blood from Stokes and Morgan was found on Hooker's pants, officials said.

The 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Denver denied Hooker's appeal last year and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal in January. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board denied clemency for Hooker March 12.

Hooker becomes the 4th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma and the 59th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990. Only Texas (300), Virginia (87) and Missouri (60) have executed more people since the death penalty was re-legalized in America on July 2, 1976.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Larry Moon, 57, 2003-03-25, Georgia

Larry Eugene Moon was executed Tuesday for the 1984 murder and robbery of a man who was buying aspirin for his wife at a convenience store. Moon, 57, was pronounced dead at 7:23 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson, south of Atlanta. It was the state's 9th execution by injection.

Moon's attorneys wrote last-minute appeals as the execution approached, arguing Moon was innocent of the crime. The Board of Pardons and Paroles turned down a clemency request Tuesday. Later in the day, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected a motion for a stay of execution, although Chief Justice Norman S. Fletcher dissented.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay less than an hour before the execution was scheduled to take place.

Moon was convicted of killing 34-year-old Ricky Callahan by shooting him twice in the head at close range in Catoosa County in 1984.

Moon always maintained he was innocent of the crime, blaming a friend, Mickey Lee Davis, for framing him.

In his final statement, Moon said, "I'm innocent, and I did not kill Ricky, I'll add."

The execution was witnessed by 2 of Moon's previous lawyers along with about 30 other witnesses.

"He was very scared today. He was very nervous and agitated," said Peggy Chapman, spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections.

About a dozen death penalty opponents held a candlelight vigil outside the prison.

"I don't support state-sanctioned executions for a man who has unresolved claims of innocence," said Maureen Gallagher, who took part in the vigil.

Moon declined to take a sedative before he was executed.

When Moon was arrested, police found the murder weapon and some music tapes. No witnesses saw the crime. Moon has always maintained his innocence.

Defense attorney Brian Mendelsohn said two men signed affidavits pinning the murder on Davis. Davis died in 1988 in a motorcycle accident, 2 years after he escaped jail while awaiting his own murder trial.

"Davis was a crazy man. If you looked at him the wrong way, he beat you to a pulp," Mendelsohn said. "I believe what happened is that Davis and Callahan had some words and Davis did what Davis was known to do, which was kill him."

Davis then framed Moon by giving him Callahan's car and its contents, Mendelsohn said.

Moon becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Georgia and the 32nd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     James Colburn, 43 ,2003-03-26, Texas

In Huntsville, a mentally ill murderer spared from execution 5 months ago by a last-minute reprieve was executed Wednesday for fatally stabbing a woman during an attempted rape.

"None of this should have happened and now that I'm dying there is nothing left to worry about," James Colburn said in a brief final statement as he was strapped to the death chamber gurney. "I know it was a mistake. I have no one to blame but myself," he said.

Colburn added that it was "no big deal" about whether he knew the difference between right and wrong, which was an element of his appeal. He prayed "that everyone involved overlooks the stupidity. Everybody has problems and I won't be part of the problem any more. I can quit worrying now."

He then said he could feel the drugs in his system. "It's going to be like passing out on drugs," he said. Colburn gasped slightly and his eyes closed. He was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m., 8 minutes after the flow of drugs began.

Colburn, 43, didn't deny killing the woman at his Conroe-area home in 1994, but his attorneys contended it would be barbaric to execute the 9th-grade dropout because he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.

Prosecutors didn't dispute Colburn's mental illness but contended the repeat offender who was on parole when arrested for capital murder was competent and understood why he was facing lethal injection.

"The issue was whether or not that illness kept him from knowing right from wrong," said Jay Hileman, a former Montgomery County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Colburn. "It didn't, so he wasn't found to be insane.

"And the issue was whether or not his illness was to the extent that it would be a mitigating circumstance to warrant a life sentence. And the jury clearly found that too wasn't the case."

Defense lawyers argued in late appeals that an exam conducted last month by a psychologist showed Colburn to be delusional and that those results conflicted with the findings of state experts who last fall determined he was competent. Colburn's attorneys sought permission of a court to litigate the matter.

The Supreme Court last year halted executions of the mentally retarded as unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment, but the justices so far have refused such blanket protection for the mentally ill.

"The Supreme Court is going to have the face the issue eventually," James Rytting, an attorney for Colburn, said. "It's these fundamental problems with people who suffer from this disease to process information and make judgments that goes to the heart of whether they should be held responsible for the offense the state says they committed."

Colburn's lawyers and death penalty opponents thought the high court would examine the issue when a Supreme Court order stopped Colburn's scheduled execution Nov. 6 at 5:59 p.m., 1 minute before he could have been moved to the death chamber.

But without comment in January, the justices refused to review his appeal, lifted the reprieve and Montgomery County authorities rescheduled the execution. The Supreme Court denied 2 stays Wednesday night, shortly before the execution.

Colburn was convicted of choking and fatally stabbing a hitchhiker, Peggy Louise Murphy, 55, at his Conroe-area apartment just north of Houston as she resisted a rape attempt June 26, 1994.

Colburn had been in mental institutions at least twice and in and out of prisons numerous times for robbery, burglary, assault and arson.

"Lord knows now I'm willing to lay down my life and end all of this," Colburn said last year shortly before his November execution date. The punishment, he said, would be "putting an end to my worries."

He declined to speak with reporters since then.

Rytting described Colburn as shaking so much a month ago during the session with the defense psychologist he could barely hold the telephone inmates use to speak with visitors, who are separated from prisoners by glass. Colburn, in an interview last year, blamed the condition on "bad nerves," adding that he's known to his fellow death row prisoners as "Shaky."

His punishment was not the 1st for a condemned murderer with mental illness. At least 4 Texas inmates last year were executed after raising similar claims and death penalty opponents and advocates for the mentally ill continue to denounce the practice.

"Given Mr. Colburn's clearly debilitated mental state, it is morally unconscionable that Texas would proceed with this execution," said Sue Gunawardena-Vaught, director of Amnesty International USA's program to abolish the death penalty.

"The larger question we need to ask ourselves as a country is: Do we want to treat people with mental illness this way?" said Charles Ingoglia, vice president for research and services for the Alexandria, Va.-based National Mental Health Association.

Colburn becomes the 62nd condemned inmate to be put to death since Rick Perry became governor in 2001. 152 condemned inmates were put to death in Texas during the gubernatorial tenure of Perry's predecessor, then- governor George W. Bush.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Scott Allen Hain, 33, 2003-04-03, Oklahoma

After a final day of furious legal wrangling, the state executed Scott Allen Hain on Thursday for the 1987 murders of 2 Tulsa restaurant workers.

Hain was pronounced dead at 8:39 p.m., bringing to an end a case that dragged on in the courts more than 15 years after Michael Houghton and Laura Lee Sanders were burned to death in the trunk of a car.

In an unusual move, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in late Thursday to overturn a stay that had been issued by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The legal delays continued until 2 hours before Hain was executed.

Before the execution began at 8:35 p.m., Hain's attorney, Steve Presson, waved at him from the death chamber's observation room, and Hain acknowledged him with a slight nod.

Hain then answered, "No," when asked if he wanted to make a statement.

The flow of lethal drugs then began, and Hain stared straight ahead, began blinking quickly and then exhaled, puffing out his cheeks before dying with his mouth and eyes half open.

In 1987, Hain, then 17, and accomplice Robert Lambert, 21, abducted Houghton and Sanders from behind the Brookside Bar in Tulsa, placed them in the trunk of Sanders' car and drove to rural Creek County, where the car was set on fire.

Hain and Lambert testified that they had been behind the bar contemplating a robbery. Houghton, 27, and Sanders, 22, were friends and co-workers at a Tulsa restaurant.

The pair and other friends had met at the bar after work the night they were killed.

Hain and Lambert were arrested 6 days later and confessed to the crime.

The American Bar Association, Amnesty International and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty all registered opposition to the execution because of Hain's age at the time of the crime.

The victims' family members all stated after the execution that the road to justice had been long and stressful but that they had finally arrived.

The families said the execution was not a happy or joyful event but one that will help to let them go on with the rest of their lives with a little peace.

"Tomorrow morning we won't have to deal with Scott Allen Hain in our lives," said Houghton's mother, Delma Houghton.

Sanders' mother, Carol Sanders, said Hain's death only brings closure to the court proceedings.

"He died peacefully, unlike Michael and Laura Lee," she said.

Phyllis Comstock, who was sexually assaulted by Hain and Lambert in Kansas, said the execution does bring closure for her and for other Kansas victims.

Authorities said the murders of Houghton and Sanders ended a 4-month crime spree by Hain and Lambert.

The 2 were accused of sexually assaulting several Kansas women and of later attacking a Tulsa couple, permanently injuring the man with a blow from a claw hammer and sexually assaulting and beating the woman.

Hain denied involvement in those attacks and was not tried for them.

Lambert is seeking to have his death sentence for the murders vacated based on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that mentally retarded people cannot be executed. Lambert has tested mildly retarded.

Before the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the execution to proceed Thursday evening, the federal appeals court in Denver earlier Thursday had for the 2nd time in 2 days blocked Hain's execution.

Thursday's 7-2 decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals came about 6 hours before Hain's originally scheduled 6 p.m. execution at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

That decision was a denial of Attorney General Drew Edmondson's emergency request to overturn the stay that a panel of the court had granted 2-1 Wednesday night.

Instead of allowing the execution to proceed, 9 judges of the Denver-based court were to hear arguments May 6 on Hain's claim that his lawyers were entitled to be paid from federal funds to represent him at a 2nd state clemency hearing.

Edmondson then made an emergency request to the Supreme Court to overturn the stay.

The attorney general argued in a motion that the 10th Circuit judges had abused their discretion by delaying the execution.

The state Pardon and Parole Board on Monday had unanimously denied Hain's request for clemency.

But Presson told the appellate judges that he did not present a credible case for clemency because he could not prepare a case due to a lack of funds.

Edmondson took the position that Hain should be executed before the court decides if he and other indigent death-row inmates are entitled to have their lawyers paid from federal funds for work on state clemency cases.

In Hain's case, the issue is moot because he had a clemency hearing, Edmondson argued.

Presson argued that Hain's appeal was not moot because there is precedent in Oklahoma for the Pardon and Parole Board to conduct new hearings or take another vote.

The lawyer cited 2 instances during former Gov. Henry Bellmon's term when board mem bers reconsidered, at the governor's request, their decision against clemency and voted to recommend clemency.

The Supreme Court took 2 actions Thursday to put the execution back on schedule.

It denied Hain's request for a stay and vacated the stay granted by the lower court.

The decision to allow the execution came from the court's conservatives: Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

The other 4 noted their objections.

"If this case was not surreal before the stay was issued (Wednesday), the case started taking on that surreal feeling last night," Oklahoma Assistant Attorney General Robert Whittaker said Thursday.

The courts' inability to decide the funding issue had an impact on the case when the issue didn't affect Hain's conviction or sentence, he said.

(source: Tulsa World)

     Don Wilson Hawkins, 43, 2003-04-08, Oklahoma

Oklahoma executed Tuesday a man who kidnapped a woman and her 2 children and later drowned the mother in a lake when he realized her family could not meet ransom demands.

Don Wilson Hawkins, 43, died at 6:07 p.m. CDT, 2 minutes after being injected with a lethal cocktail of chemicals at the state's death chamber in the eastern Oklahoma city of McAlester, prison officials said.

"I've got peace. The state needs vengeance for the crime I've done," Hawkins said in his last statement, according to prison spokesman Jerry Massie.

"They're going to punish my body, but Jesus has forgiven me," Hawkins reportedly said.

Hawkins was convicted of the 1985 kidnapping and murder of Linda Ann Thompson, who was 29.

Hawkins and co-defendant Dale Shelton kidnapped Thompson at a shopping mall parking lot in Oklahoma City with her two daughters, then aged 18 months and 4 years.

The men stole a few dollars from Thompson and took her bound in chains into a barn, while her children were kept separate in a house.

The day after the three were abducted, the kidnappers decided the family could not pay the ransom. Hawkins and Shelton then dropped the children off at the home of a baby sitter and took Thompson to a lake.

The men had tied up Thompson, and Hawkins drowned her because he thought she would be able to identify them in court, according to court records.

Shelton was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the crime.

He was the 6th man Oklahoma has executed this year, and the 61st since the state resumed implementing the death penalty in 1990.

(source: Reuters)

     Earl C. Bramblett, 61, 2003-04-09, Virginia

In Jarratt, a man who murdered a family of 4 was put the death in Virginia's electric chair Wednesday, maintaining his innocence to the end. Earl C. Bramblett, 61, was executed at 9:09 p.m. EDT after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his appeals and Gov. Mark R. Warner denied his request for clemency.

Bramblett was only the third Virginia inmate to die in the electric chair since condemned prisoners were given the option of electrocution or lethal injection in 1995.

Bramblett was led into the execution chamber at 8:54 p.m. and strapped into the oak electric chair built by inmates.

"I didn't murder the Hodges family," Bramblett said firmly in his final statement. "I've never murdered anybody. I'm going to my death with a clear conscience.

"I am going to my death having had a great life because of my 2 great sons," who visited Bramblett earlier in the day along with his ex-wife.

A Department of Corrections official then turned a key switch in the wall behind the electric chair, activating the system.

An executioner sitting behind a one-way glass immediately pressed a button labeled "execute" and 1,800 volts surged through Bramblett's body, causing him to go rigid and throwing him against the back of the chair.

Lawyers for Bramblett unsuccessfully challenged the Virginia law that gives condemned inmates the choice between the electric chair and lethal injection.

"We believe it is barbaric," said attorney Jennifer Givens.

Blaine Hodges, 41, and his daughters Winter, 11, and Anah, 3, were each shot once in the head and Teresa Hodges, 37, was strangled. They were found in their burning Vinton home on Aug. 29, 1994.

Authorities immediately suspected Bramblett, a family friend who had been living with the Hodges, after questioning him and discovering he knew things about the crime scene that had previously not been reported, Roanoke County Commonwealth's Attorney Randy Leach said.

Prosecutors also tied Bramblett to the scene using .22-caliber bullet casings they said matched cartridges found in his truck and pubic hair belonging to Bramblett that was found in the girls' bed.

Prosecutors theorized that Bramblett murdered the family because he was sexually obsessed with Winter, and that Blaine Hodges was using the girl to entrap him in a sex crime. Tapes played at Bramblett's trial depicted his sexual attraction toward the eldest daughter.

But Bramblett said all the circumstantial evidence used against him had either been planted or fabricated. He said his pubic hair sample was taken before authorities located the hair on the girls' bed, and that his tape recordings had been altered to give the impression he was attracted to Winter.

Bramblett told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he chose the electric chair over lethal injection to protest what he considers his wrongful conviction.

"I'm not going to lay down on a gurney and have them stick a needle in my arm and make it look like an antiseptic execution taking place as a result of a fair trial," Bramblett said in a telephone interview from the Greensville prison.

Bramblett's attorneys said in their clemency petition that the recanted testimony of a jailhouse snitch who linked Bramblett to the murders also should be enough to warrant a new trial.

Bramblett becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Virginia, and the 88th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982. Only Texas has executed more condemned inmates (301) since the USA re-legalized the death penalty on July 2, 1976.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Larry Kenneth Jackson, 40, 2003-04-17, Oklahoma

The state of Oklahoma on Thursday executed a man who killed his girlfriend while he was out on a prison work detail.

Larry Kenneth Jackson was pronounced dead at 6:08 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

Jackson, 40, was put to death for the Sept. 6, 1994, slaying of Wendy Cade.

Cade was found dead in a north Oklahoma City motel room with more than 30 stab and slash wounds, authorities said.

Jackson, 40, was serving a 30-year prison term for 2nd-degree murder when he walked away from a prison work program at the state Capitol complex and left with Cade, authorities said.

Cade drove Jackson around the metro area, including a stop at her mother's home to drop off her young daughter, before going to the motel, according to prosecutors.

Cade, 29, was killed because she was ending her relationship with Jackson and was not going to help his effort to win parole, authorities said.

Cade was stabbed and slashed with a box cutter knife that prison officials had given Jackson to open boxes of furniture he was helping install in the Jim Thorpe Building, authorities said.

Cade's sister, Anita Taylor, said before the execution that she and her family had waited nearly 10 years for justice to be served.

"If we can get this (the execution) out of the way, then we can get on with our lives."

Still, Taylor said she can forgive Jackson.

"He took something very precious from us, but if my mother can forgive him, I have to."

Jackson's escape and the escape a week earlier of convicted killer Randolph Franklin Dial caused then-Gov. David Walters to order the state corrections department to transfer all murderers from minimum security.

Jackson becomes the 7th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma and the 62nd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990. Oklahoma trails only Texas (301) and Virginia (88) in the number of executions carried out since the death penalty was re-legalized in America on July 2, 1976.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Juan Rodriguez Chavez, 34, 2003-04-22, Texas

A convicted killer believed responsible for at least a dozen slayings over a 5-month period while on parole was executed Tuesday for 1 of 5 murders authorities said he committed on a single bloody night in Dallas 6 years ago.

Juan Rodriguez Chavez, 34, who had earned the nickname "The Thrill Killer" for the random attacks was smiling and grinning broadly as his mother, a brother and a sister came into the death chamber to watch him die.

"To the media, I would like for you to tell all the victims and their loved ones that I am truly, truly sorry for taking their loved ones' lives," Chavez said in a brief and apologetic final statement. "I am a different person now but that does not change the fact of the bad things I have committed."

Chavez said he hoped God would give them the same peace that he had.

Looking at his relatives, he urged them to be strong and told them, "God is the way, the truth and the life."

He told the warden he was ready and closed his eyes, but looked up a few seconds later and asked, "Is it working?" He closed his eyes and began praying. As the drugs began taking effect, his eyes popped open, he gasped for breath and stopped breathing. 7 minutes later, he was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m.

Jason January, one of the Dallas County district attorneys who prosecuted Chavez, said Chavez's nickname fit.

"He was truly a living breathing killing machine...," January said. "He was one of the few people I dealt with in 15 years with the DA's office that clearly demonstrated he enjoyed killing."

Many of Chavez's victims were robbed or carjacked. Some were shot with a handgun, others with a shotgun. Some were mowed down by a stolen car or truck -- their heads deliberately run over after they already had been shot.

"To shoot somebody, get a car and turn around and on several occasions take the tire of the vehicle and run over their heads, that's sadistic," January said.

Chavez, labeled an "equal opportunity assassin" by authorities, was condemned for the robbery and fatal shooting of Jose Morales, 39, gunned down July 3, 1995 while talking on a pay phone in northwest Dallas.

A witness said he grabbed Morales' wallet from his pants and shot him again before fleeing. The wallet contained $2.

Morales was 1 of 8 people shot -- 5 fatally -- during the early morning hours that day.

Chavez was arrested a month later when he reported to his parole officer.

He had been released from prison the previous year after serving less than half of a 15-year term for killing a neighbor during a burglary. Chavez, a 9th-grade dropout, was 17 at the time of that slaying.

At his trial for the Morales murder, he wore to court an electronic stun belt that inadvertently activated during the 1st day of testimony. Jolted by the voltage, he stood up, saying: "It's shocking me," then slumped to the defense table. He was uninjured but his attorneys asked for a mistrial, contending his constitutional presumption of innocence was violated. The request was denied, then became an issue in unsuccessful appeals.

Chavez was a middle child in a family of 19 born to a migrant farm worker couple who moved to Dallas 3 months after he was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., April 27, 1968.

While serving his 1st murder sentence, he accumulated more than 40 disciplinary violations, including punching a corrections officer and scaling a pair of fences topped with razor wire so he could attack another inmate in a recreation area. But by March 1994, he had accrued enough "good time" in prison to be paroled.

"He should have never been let out of jail," January said. "He's a poster child for parole reform."

The killing spree began a year later with a fatal shooting during a robbery at a car wash.

At his trial, he was described as jovial, grinning at spectators, many of them relatives of slaying victims.

When State District Judge Harold Entz asked if there was any reason he shouldn't be sentenced, he replied: "I still say I'm not guilty."

He also had warned court bailiffs he would antagonize relatives of his victims, many of them Hispanic, by smirking.

"I'm not going to let them see me sweat," he said.

Another condemned killer, Robert Charles Ladd, was scheduled for lethal injection Wednesday for the rape and hammer slaying of a woman in Tyler 6 1/2 years ago.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Gary Leon Brown, 44, 2003-04-24, Alabama

A man was executed by injection Thursday for the 1986 stabbing death of a 60-year-old man during a robbery.

Gary Leon Brown, 44, was executed after Gov. Bob Riley denied him clemency on Wednesday. He made no final statement, but appeared to mouth the words "go with God" and "forgive them" to his wife, Elizabeth Anne Brown, who was in the witness room with Brown's friend.

None of the victim's family attended the execution.

Brown told investigators that he and his cohorts went to the home of Jack David McGraw on Memorial Day 1986 to drink with him, hoping that McGraw would pass out so they could rob him.

But McGraw said he had to work the next day and couldn't party with them. He was tackled and dragged back inside the residence, and Brown said he repeatedly stabbed McGraw with a pocketknife.

McGraw's body was left in the mobile home, where he lived alone, until it was found by neighborhood children. He had been robbed of $67 and several appliances.

At the time of the murder, Brown was out of jail on bond in an unrelated robbery. The trial judge noted that fact in upholding the jury's recommendation for death.

McGraw, described in trial testimony as a homosexual, was stabbed 78 times. According to trial testimony, the killers boasted of the murder using homosexual slurs.

Prosecutors said the savageness of the attack indicated the killing may not have been simply a robbery, but it was not prosecuted as a hate crime.

Archie Bankhead, accused in court of cutting McGraw's throat with a butcher knife, is now serving life without parole. Also convicted in the murder was James Lynn Bynum, who was paroled from a life sentence in 1997.

Brown becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Alabama, and the 27th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     David Brewer, 44, 2003-04-29, Ohio

In Lucasville, a man was executed Tuesday for kidnapping his friend's wife, stuffing her in the trunk of his car, and strangling and stabbing her when she tried to escape.

The execution of David Brewer, 44, was delayed about 10 minutes because the execution team had a problem fitting the needles into his arm that would carry the chemicals to his veins. He was pronounced dead by injection at 10:20 a.m.

Authorities said Brewer sexually assaulted and beat Sherry Byrne, 21, in a motel room on March 21, 1985, after luring her there on the pretense of meeting him and his wife, Cathy. He then abducted her and drove around with her in the trunk of his car for several hours.

Police said passing motorists had reported seeing a piece of paper with "help me please" written in lipstick shoved through the crack in the trunk of a car.

Brewer walked briskly into the death chamber and lay on the table at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. He wore a white V-neck T-shirt, blue pants with orange stripes and tan boots.

Asked by Warden James Haviland if he had a last statement, Brewer said the state should do something about prisoners on death row who don't belong there.

"I'd like to say to the system in Ohio as far as the death row inmates are concerned, there are some that are innocent. I'm not one of them, but there are plenty that are innocent. I hope the state recognizes that.
That's all I have to say," Brewer said.

Joe Byrne, the victim's husband, witnessed Brewer's execution. He said softly: "Where's your remorse?"

Byrne, who has remarried and now lives in Bridgewater, N.J., said he was listening for an apology but never heard one.

"David Brewer went to sleep," he said. "I was thinking of Sherry. Her suffering was immeasurable."

Brewer stared at the ceiling while the chemicals were released. After closing his eyes, he yawned, his chest rose sharply once, then his breaths became shorter until he lay motionless.

Thom Miller, a nondenominational pastor from Mansfield who was Brewer's spiritual adviser, afterward read a statement from Brewer's family that he had found peace through his Christian faith.

"It is the prayer of David and his family that the same peace will be found by Sherry's family," Miller read.

Byrne's mother, Myrtle Kaylor, said she will never stop grieving for her daughter.

"I hope that David Brewer today saw my daughter's face and her plea for mercy as he left this world," she said. "The punishment he received today is much more humane than what he did to her."

Brewer's execution was the seventh in Ohio since 1999, the year the state resumed executing inmates after reinstating the death penalty in 1981. The U.S. Supreme Court had declared the death penalty unconstitutional in 1972, saying it was applied too arbitrarily.

Brewer, who lived in Centerville, near Dayton, and managed a rental appliance store, was a former fraternity brother of Byrne's husband, Joe Byrne, at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky. He later told police he was attracted to his friend's wife.

Brewer confessed to killing Byrne after she tried to escape in suburban Dayton, about 40 miles northeast of the motel. He told police her body was in a rented storage locker in nearby Franklin.

Police said Byrne was choked with a necktie and stabbed 15 times.

Brewer pleaded innocent by reason of insanity and was convicted of aggravated murder and kidnapping.

On Friday, Gov. Bob Taft denied Brewer's request for clemency. Defense attorneys had argued that Brewer deserved mercy because he had no criminal record before the killing and has been a model prisoner.

Joe Byrne never went back to the home he and his wife, a cosmetics saleswoman, had bought in the Cincinnati suburb of Springdale, hoping to have their 1st child there. He moved into his parents' home in Middletown.

Overcome with grief, he was unable to return to his old job. Joe Byrne sold his house, keeping only a few items, including a basketball jersey that his wife had slept in.

He remarried in 1987 and took a job as a financial executive with a paper company in New Jersey the following year, trying to escape the memories.

He said he still suffers on the anniversary of his 1st marriage, Byrne's birthday and the day she was killed.

Brewer becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Ohio and the 7th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1999.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Kevin L. Hough, 43, 2003-05-02, Indiana

Condemned for killing 2 men during a robbery, Kevin L. Hough was executed this morning.

Ending 17 years of appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Hough's final appeal Thursday and refused to stop his execution.

Hough, 43, received a lethal injection this morning just after midnight at the Indiana State Prison. He was convicted of the 1985 murders of two Fort Wayne men.

"I hope the victims' families get some measure of satisfaction," Hough said shortly before he was put to death. "Hopefully, their grief won't be as much."

Prison officials said Hough was pronounced dead at 12:25 a.m.

He spent Thursday afternoon talking with his daughter, mother, grandmother and aunts.

"He actually has dealt with this whole situation with great dignity," said John Stainthorp, Hough's attorney, adding that his client "is obviously concerned (that) he didn't get adequate representation of justice."

Hough expected to spend his last hours with a Catholic priest.

Wednesday, Gov. Frank O'Bannon denied Hough's request for his death sentence to be commuted to life in prison.

In 1987, Hough was sentenced to die for killing Ted Bosler and Martin "Gene" Rubrake, longtime Fort Wayne roommates.

Those crimes came soon after another man died at Hough's hands. Prosecutors said he used a cattle prod to torture Antoni Bartkowiak before shooting him. That killing helped prosecutors convince a judge that the death sentence was appropriate.

6 hours before the scheduled execution, heavy rain blew across Indianapolis, drenching the governor's residence at 46th and Meridian Streets and a half-dozen protesters gathered outside.

"The way we look at it, there's a man in Michigan City waiting to die a violent death," said Charlie Kafoure of the Indiana Information Center on the Abolition of Capital Punishment. "We can afford to stand in the rain."

O'Bannon, however, wasn't there, having moved while the building is renovated. The demonstrators said it was symbolically correct to protest there; O'Bannon has declined to stop all previous executions carried out during his time in office.

"It's wrong to kill for the sake of killing," said Steve Schutte, a public defender. "It's wrong that Mr. Bosler and Mr. Rubrake were killed, and it's wrong to kill Mr. Hough."

Hough's current attorneys argue that their client received abysmal legal representation from two part-time public defenders.

But state and federal courts disagreed, affirming Hough's death sentence.

Hough maintains his innocence in all 3 murders.

Prosecutors maintain the following:

On Nov. 6, 1985, Hough and his 16-year-old brother, Duane Lapp, went to the roommates' house. Hough helped Rubrake unload groceries from his car, then followed him into the basement.

He pulled a .45-caliber pistol from his shoulder holster and told Bosler and Rubrake to lie on the floor. He shot Rubrake in the chest and Bosler while he was lying down. When Rubrake appeared to move, Hough shot him in the face.

Before leaving the home, Hough took a beer can and remote control he thought might have his fingerprints and removed several rings from the bodies of Bosler and Rubrake. As he left, he stepped on Rubrake's face.

After the killings, Hough dropped his brother off and then almost immediately moved to Indianapolis.

11 days earlier, Hough and 2 other men went to rob a home. Bartkowiak answered the door.

Hough stuck a handgun into Bartkowiak's abdomen, made him lie on the floor and handcuffed his hands behind his back.

After ransacking the house, Hough used a cattle prod to torture and question Bartkowiak about possible cocaine that was in the house.

He then took Bartkowiak to the basement and shot him in the back of the head.

Hough was convicted of murdering Bartkowiak and sentenced to 60 years.

Hough becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Indiana and the 10th overall since Indiana resumed capital punishment in 1981.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Roger Dale Vaughn, 48, 2003-05-06, Texas

A former electrician with an extensive criminal past was executed Tuesday for killing a 66-year-old woman after he had escaped from the Lubbock County Jail. Roger Dale Vaughn smiled, laughed and mouthed to relatives that he loved them, but he had no final statement.

Instead Vaughn asked a prison chaplain to read Psalm 103, which talks about God's compassion and repeatedly uses and ends with the phrase, "Praise the Lord, oh my soul."

Just before the lethal drugs began to take effect, he said, "My hand is about to pop down here," turning his head toward his left hand, where a needle was inserted. He gasped and sputtered and was pronounced dead at 6:26 p.m., 10 minutes after the lethal drugs began.

Among the witnesses were the victim's 2 sons and a daughter.

Vaughn, 48, was a trusty at the jail more than 11 years ago when he fled, stole a car and three days later was arrested for strangling and raping Dora Watkins during a burglary of her home in Vernon, about 150 miles west of Lubbock.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused in February to review Vaughn's capital murder case and no late appeals were filed to try to block the execution.

"He's just a mean fellow," said Dan Mike Bird, the Wilbarger County district attorney who convinced a jury Vaughn should be put to death.

"I've never murdered anybody," Vaughn insisted last week in an interview on death row. "I just fit the bill."

Vaughn was being held on forgery and robbery charges in Lubbock when he fled the county jail Oct. 14, 1991.

"I got stupid and walked off," he said.

He tracked down a friend, convinced him he had been paroled, then got the friend drunk, knocked him out and stole his truck and money. He drove east to Electra, midway between Wichita Falls and Vernon, and tried to call Watkins' son, an acquaintance, to get some money. Instead, he reached Dora Watkins and made arrangements to stop by the next day.

Vaughn said he visited the victim, then left.

"I didn't know the woman died," he said from prison, contending he later picked up a hitchhiker who left a package in his car. Inside the package, he said, were jewelry, credit cards and a checkbook belonging to Watkins.

"I hocked the rings," he said. "I needed money. I wrote a couple of checks."

Watkins, badly beaten about the head, strangled with a cloth and raped, was found dead in her kitchen by people showing up for a church meeting at her house.

"Anybody who saw what I saw when I went into that kitchen would have made the same decision I made," Bird said, explaining why he sought the death penalty in the case. "It was a war scene in there in the kitchen."

Evidence showed Vaughn pawned the jewelry, including Watkins' wedding ring, in Wichita Falls and cashed several checks. One pawnbroker who refused to lend him money wrote down his license plate number, which was tracked to the stolen car.

"I was smoking crack, I wasn't in full control," Vaughn said of his arrest Oct. 17, 1991, a day after the slaying. "I was a sitting duck.

"There were some stupid moves I made ... stupid blunders, no reason why. Just stupidity," he said.

Bird disputed Vaughn's contention someone else was responsible for the slaying, saying evidence pointed to Vaughn.

"The most damning evidence is she had a bite on her face and that bite absolutely matched with his teeth impression," the prosecutor said. "I didn't know at the time, but learned through this case that bite marks are a lot like fingerprints."

Vaughn was court martialed from the Army for being AWOL and discharged for character and behavior disorders. In 1977 he received 10 years probation for burglary in Gray County, in the Texas Panhandle. The probation was revoked when he assaulted 2 people with a knife.

In 1986, he was convicted of receiving stolen property in Wyoming, but got off with probation. The same year, he got up to 5 years for forgery in that state. He was back in Texas in August 1991 when he was arrested in Lubbock, where he was in jail when he escaped.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Carl Isaacs, 49, 2003-05-06, Georgia

A man who helped kill 6 members of a farm family during a burglary to fuel his escape from a Maryland prison camp was executed Tuesday, 30 years after his crime shook a community.

Carl Isaacs, 49, was given a lethal injection at the state prison in Jackson for orchestrating the Alday family killings at their southwest Georgia home on May 14, 1973. Appeals kept him on death row longer than anyone else in the nation.

The Supreme Court refused to grant a last-minute stay, although Justices John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer said the court should have agreed to consider Isaacs' claim that it was unconstitutional to execute him after his long imprisonment. Justice Clarence Thomas, a native of Georgia, did not participate.

Isaacs was pronounced dead at 8:07 p.m.

The killings near Donalsonville prompted more residents to buy guns, sparked legislation that requires victims' families to be notified of developments in death penalty cases and inspired the 1988 movie "Murder One," starring James Wilder as Isaacs.

Over the years, Isaacs' lawyers argued that publicity prevented him from receiving a fair trial and tried to explain his actions by shedding light on his abusive childhood in Baltimore. A retrial ended in the same verdict and sentence.

His final appeal was rejected Tuesday after Isaacs' lawyer said a minister's opening prayer at the retrial prejudiced the jury against him.

Relatives of the Aldays never wavered in their public push for Isaacs to be executed. The repeated delays angered them; some relatives died waiting for the execution. Three members of the family were witnesses.

In his final days, Isaacs, through his lawyer, offered remorse for the killings, saying he was not the same hotheaded person who committed the crime at 19.

The Alday family was unmoved, citing Isaacs' own boastful words in a series of 1975 prison interviews.

"I'd like to get out and kill more of them," he said at the time. "They represent the type of society I don't like. I didn't know them, had never seen them before May 14, but I didn't like them. Working people don't do a damn thing for me."

Isaacs, during the interviews, compared himself to notorious 1930s outlaw John Dillinger.

The Aldays were shot to death as they returned home for lunch.

Ned Alday was gunned down along with 3 sons, a brother and a daughter-in-law, who was raped and then taken to a field where she was shot in the head. Prosecutors called the slayings the most gruesome in the state's history.

Isaacs declined an opportunity to make a final statement, but did ask for a final prayer. After the prayer he mouthed "Amen."

After the prayer, Isaacs scanned the room, looking at witnesses. Then the chemicals started pumping, his cheeks puffed, his breathing fluttered and his eyes began to close, although they never closed completely.

"There were many who thought this wouldn't happen," said Attorney General Thurbert Baker. He described the execution as a "final chapter in the case."

It was the 1st time in state history that Georgia officials allowed members of the victims' family to witness the execution.

At the time of the murders, Isaacs was on the run from authorities after having escaped from a minimum-security prison camp in Wicomico County, Md. 2 other men are serving life sentences for the murders. A 3rd was released from prison in 1993.

A friend from Baltimore will pick up the remains, state officials said. The execution had been scheduled for 7 p.m. and the delay was partly attributable for the U.S. Supreme Court's deliberations.

There was no one from Isaacs family present at the execution. His attorney and 2 ministers, who visited with him in the hours before his death, were witnesses.

Isaacs becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Georgia and the 33rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1983.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Bruce Charles Jacobs, 56, 2003-05-15, Texas

Convicted killer Bruce Charles Jacobs was executed tonight for using a butcher knife to fatally hack a Dallas boy on the victim's 16th birthday almost 17 years ago.

Jacobs recited by memory as his last statement the 23rd Psalm that begins "The Lord is my shepherd" and ends with "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Raising his head off the gurney and turning to four friends watching from an adjacent room, Jacobs thanked them for "being there with me all these years and supporting me." He also thanked the media for "being nice to me," then urged his friends to "take care of yourself and y'all stay strong."

At 6:17 p.m., 6 minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing, he was pronounced dead.

Jacobs, 56, was condemned for the slaying of Conrad Harris at the teenager's home near Southern Methodist University July 22, 1986.

A medical examiner testified Harris had been stabbed at least 24 times in an "overkill" and lost half of his blood supply in the attack. Part of the knife blade was broken in the frenzy and was imbedded in the boy's body.

"This is one of those cases, if there was ever a death penalty case, in my mind this is one," Day Haygood, one of the prosecutors at Jacobs' trial, recalled this week. "The most horrific part was his father heard the boy screaming and found Jacobs cutting him."

With Hugh Harris providing the eyewitness identification of Jacobs as his son's killer, a Dallas County jury convicted Jacobs of capital murder and decided he should be put to death.

"He's a brutal murderer without a conscience," Harris told The Dallas Morning News in a story published Thursday. "I'll be satisfied to see the circle closed."

Jacobs, who worked mostly as a dishwasher and had a criminal history of violence with knives and razor blades, acknowledged he was in the Harris house at 6:30 that morning but said another intruder in the house at the same time was to blame for the killing.

"I'm going to get executed for something I didn't do," he said recently from death row. "Somebody jumped me from behind... I left and went home. I didn't know there was a murder until 3 days later."

The victim's stepmother, Holly Kuper, told authorities a man matching Jacobs' description tried to push his way into her house the morning before the murder but she managed to get the door locked and called police.

"Our theory was Bruce came back the next night and meant to assault her but the father was home and he just turned his attention to killing the boy," Haygood said.

Harris and his wife gave police information for a sketch of the suspect and a taxi driver told authorities the drawing looked like a customer he had the morning of the killing. Jacobs was remembered for his beard and a Panama hat that he wore.

Jacobs, still wearing the hat but recently shaven, was arrested inside a convenience store.

At his Dallas apartment, police found a $100 bill identified as missing from Kuper's purse. Jacobs' fingerprints were found on other knives at the Harris home.

No late appeals to the courts were filed. Jacobs' lawyer said his client was mentally ill but couldn't prove he was mentally retarded, which would make him ineligible for execution under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year.

"He has this fantasy that somehow he had this relationship with the victim's mother, which is simply not true," James Volberding said. "We have never been able to get at the bottom of how his mind works or fails to work. Although I'm convinced he's mentally ill, there's nothing I can do to prove that that's sufficient to stop his execution."

When he was 14, an intelligence test put Jacobs' IQ at 77 while subsequent testing over the years put his IQ somewhat higher. Someone with an IQ less than 70 generally is considered retarded.

"People tell me I'm slow," Jacobs, a 10th-grade dropout, said from death row.

At his trial, jurors heard from witnesses who told of Jacobs at age 16 stabbing a 12-year-old girl with a steak knife during an assault. While in a juvenile lockup, he beat another person with an ax handle. In 1967, he was taken into custody after holding a razor blade to a girl's neck during a robbery. In the early 1970s, he served time in Oregon for assault and was caught with a razor-tipped broom in his cell.

(sources: Associated Press)

     Newton Carlton Slawson, 48, 2003-05-16, Florida

Newton Carlton Slawson, convicted of killing 4 members of a Tampa family and a fetus, was executed by injection Friday after a 13-hour delay while his mental competency was questioned.

Slawson was pronounced dead at 7:10 a.m., officials said. The execution came 14 years after the killings and 6 years after he began the process to drop his court appeals.

Slawson, 48, was convicted in the April 11, 1989, shooting deaths of Gerald and Peggy Wood, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, and their 2 young children, Glendon, 3, and Jennifer, 4. Slawson sliced Peggy Wood's body with a knife and pulled out her fetus, which had 2 gunshot wounds and multiple cuts, court records show.

After the attack, Peggy Wood crawled down the stairs of their garage apartment, across a backyard to her mother's home and told her," Newton did it." She died in her mother's arms.

Just an hour before Slawson's scheduled execution Thursday, Gov. Jeb Bush issued a temporary stay so that 3 psychiatrists could examine whether Slawson was competent to be executed. Those psychiatrists reported to Bush around midnight and said they found Slawson aware of what the death sentence meant.

The standard for competency is understanding that execution will result in death and why the sentence is being imposed. Bush lifted the stay early Friday morning, prison spokesman Sterling Ivey said.

The stay came after Bush's office received a letter from Slawson's former attorneys, Craig Alldredge and Brian Donerly, who challenged the condemned man's sanity.

The attorneys said Slawson was mentally ill at the time of the slayings and remains insane. Earlier this week, Donerly accused the state of "helping the mentally ill commit suicide."

Slawson, who dropped his appeals in 2001 and asked for execution, had eaten his last meal, read from a Star Trek novel and visited with family members for the final time when given news of the stay. He was visibly upset by the delay, Ivey said.

"He wanted the sentence to be carried out," Ivey said.

At a court hearing in Tampa last month, Slawson told Circuit Judge Rex Barbas he wanted to be executed.

"Judge, let's just end this please," he said.

After his meeting with the psychiatrists ended around 10 p.m. Thursday, Slawson went to sleep and slept through the night, Ivey said.

In his trial, prosecutors claimed Slawson had fantasies about dismembering women. When he was arrested, police found bloody clothing, a bloody knife, a .357 revolver with blood on it, an assault rifle, 180 rounds of ammunition and a Penthouse magazine in which had drawn images of slit bellies on some of the nude photographs.

Defense attorneys argued that Gerald Wood had slipped crack cocaine into Slawson's beer, sending an unstable man into a killing rage.

For the murders, Slawson received four death sentences, plus a 30-year sentence on a manslaughter conviction for the death of the fetus.

Since 1990, 6 of the 34 inmates executed have dropped their appeals. 4 of the 11 executed since 2002, have volunteered for execution. Abe Bonowitz, director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said Slawson and other death row inmates who have volunteered for execution are mentally ill.

"The only time the state will bend over backwards is when a prisoner wants to kill himself," Bonowitz said. "We consider it an assisted suicide."

Last fall, 2 inmates -- serial killer Aileen Wuornos and triple murderer Rigoberto Sanchez-Velasco -- were put to death after dropping their appeals. The judge also ordered mental exams for them in the days before their executions.

Slawson becomes the 56th person executed since Florida resumed executions in 1979 and the 2nd to die this year. He was the 13th person executed under a death warrant signed by Bush.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Robert Knighton, 62, 2003-05-27, Oklahoma

A man who killed at least 5 people was put to death in McAlester Tuesday for murdering a Noble County couple in 1990.

Robert Knighton, 62, was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m., shortly after the fatal drug injection began.

Knighton shot and killed Richard and Virginia Denney at their farm near Tonkawa on Jan. 8, 1990, during a 3-day crime spree that began with the murders and robbery of 2 men in Clinton, Mo.

He and 2 co-defendants came away from the Denney residence with $61 and a beat-up pickup truck.

Among the witnesses on Knighton's behalf was Sue Norton of Arkansas City, Kan., the adopted daughter of Richard Denney. Norton forgave and befriended Knighton during his trial had been in McAlester since last week to spend time with him before his death.

"This is the 1st time in his life that he feels like he's doing something right," Norton said the day before the execution. "It took him this to realize he spent over 50 of his years living totally against God."

Norton's sister, Maudie Nichols of Oxford, Kan., also planned to attend. Denney's biological daughter, Nichols forgave Knighton at his clemency hearing last week but has said he should pay for the murders with his life.

"I think anybody that does any kind of crime should have to stand accountable for what they do," she said. "I don't make the laws."

Knighton served 17 years in a Missouri prison for manslaughter, kidnapping and robbery before going to a halfway house in Kansas City, Mo., where he befriended Lawrence Brittain, a teenager on probation for auto theft.

They escaped and the 2, along with Knighton's girlfriend Ruth Renee Williams, stole a van in Kansas City and drove to Clinton, Mo., where Knighton shot Frankie T. Merrifield and his stepson, Roy E. Donahue, after the group had been drinking together. They left with money, beer and 3 weapons, including a .38-caliber revolver used to kill the Denneys.

The fugitives found the Denneys' rented farmhouse as the van was running out of gas.

Denney, 62, came out of his house as the three pulled into his driveway. Knighton forced him into the house at gunpoint and shot Denney once in the chest, then shot and killed Virginia Denney, 64.

Brittain was convicted of 2 counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison on each count. Williams was charged with 2 counts of accessory after the fact and received a 15-year prison sentence on each count.

Last week, the state Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-0 against sparing Knighton's life. The state attorney general's office argued there was no way Knighton deserved clemency.

"Who knows how many people he's killed?" said Assistant Attorney General Robert Whittaker. "We only know of 5. He has hurt enough families."

Knighton becomes the 8th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma and the 63rd overall since the state resumed executions in 1990. Oklahoma trails only Texas (304) and Virginia (88) in the number of executions carried out since the death penalty was re-legalized in America on July 2, 1976.

(sources: Oklahoman and Rick Halperin)

     Kenneth Charm, 37, 2003-06-05, Oklahoma

A man was put to death at 6:05 p.m. for the 1993 rape and murder of 14-year-old girl.

Charm, 37, received a death sentence for killing Brandy Crystian Hill in July 1993 in Comanche County.

A spiritual adviser and an attorney witnessed Charm's execution. None of his family members were present.

"I want to apologize to the victim's family and to my family and ask their forgiveness," Charm said before his execution.

Hill, an honor student who wanted to become the 1st female black president, was visiting her father for the summer when she was lured into a car with Charm and co-defendant Ron Jessie.

On a remote Comanche County road, the men raped, strangled and bludgeoned the girl to death with a sledgehammer.

Hill lived with her mother in Michigan and was visiting her father, Michael Hill, in Lawton. Her parents divorced when she was 2.

On the day of the murder, Charm and Jessie had visited Michael Hill. The two men left the house, picked up Brandy Hill, raped and killed her and then returned to the Hill home to establish an alibi, court records show.

Charm testified that he and Jessie both delivered blows that killed the girl.

Jessie, who was 16 at the time, received a life sentence without parole.

Death penalty opponents had rallied against the execution because Charm's attorneys claimed he was retarded.

The Supreme Court ruled last year against executing mentally retarded people and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that people with an IQ of 70 or below shouldn't face the death penalty.

Charm has an IQ of 75, but his attorneys claim IQ tests have a margin of error of plus or minus 5 points.

The state Pardon and Parole Board voted unanimously last month to deny Charm clemency.

Charm's attorneys appealed the death sentence to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking them to review the state's standard. The high court denied the appeals Thursday afternoon.

Charm becomes the 9th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma and the 64th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990. Oklahoma trails only Texas (304) and Virginia (88) in the number of executions carried out since the death penalty was re-legalized in the USA on July 2, 1976.

Charm becomes the 36th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 856th overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Kia Levoy Johnson, 38, 2003-06-11, Texas

A twice-paroled burglar was executed this evening for gunning down the night manager of a suburban San Antonio convenience store 9 1/2 years ago in a $23 robbery.

"Tell mama I love her," Kia Levoy Johnson, 38, said when asked by a prison warden if he had a final statement. "Tell the kids I love them too. See y'all," he said, directing his comments to his brother, watching through a window a few feet away.

Johnson never looked through an adjacent window where the parents and brother and sister of his victim watched.

He gasped a couple of times as the lethal drugs began to take effect and was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m., 7 minutes after the dose began.

Johnson was condemned for killing William Matthew Rains, who authorities said bled to death after he was shot once in the abdomen with a .32-caliber pistol in the Oct. 29, 1993, fatal attack at the Balcones Heights store.

Johnson's lawyers contended he was mentally retarded and should not be put to death because the U.S. Supreme Court has barred execution of the mentally retarded.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the appeal last week. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also turned down the appeal late Tuesday and Johnson's lawyer took his argument to the Supreme Court. The high court late Wednesday afternoon refused to halt the punishment.

Appeals that contended Johnson received incompetent legal help at his 1995 Bexar County trial were rejected earlier.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Joseph Trueblood, 46, 2003-06-13, Indiana

In Michigan City, prison officials executed Lafayette taxi driver Joseph Trueblood early today for the shooting deaths of his ex-girlfriend and her 2 children.

Trueblood, 46, was moved into a holding cell at the Indiana State Prison Thursday night. Shortly after midnight, he was placed on a gurney and rolled to the white-painted execution chamber, where prison officials administered a lethal dose of drugs via intravenous feeds in each arm.

Prison officials pronounced Trueblood dead at 12:24 a.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay of execution for Trueblood about 8 p.m. Thursday. The court had refused without comment to reconsider the case earlier this week, and Gov. Frank O'Bannon on Wednesday rejected his clemency request.

Earlier this week, Trueblood told reporters he did not intend to cooperate with authorities in his death. He rejected the traditional last meal and said he did not want his body to be autopsied.

A LaPorte Superior Court judge on Thursday issued a temporary restraining order preventing an autopsy by the state Department of Correction following Trueblood's execution.

Don Pagos, a Michigan City attorney representing Trueblood, argued there was no point in an autopsy since the cause of death would be known. A final ruling was expected Friday.

Trueblood said he did not want any of his family members to witness his execution. His witnesses were to be his 3 appeals lawyers and the Rev. Thomas McNally, a Roman Catholic priest.

McNally and family members were among Trueblood's visitors during his last full day on death row.

Another visitor was Katie Pawski of Chicago, a 25-year-old University of Notre Dame graduate who addressed about 20 anti-death penalty protesters outside the prison gates Thursday night.

"He's a human being with humanity and compassion," said Pawski, who met Trueblood while doing prison outreach while attending Notre Dame.

"Nobody deserves to die. Killing creates more victims," she said.

Trueblood, 46, was condemned for the 1988 murders of Susan Bowsher of Lafayette and her children, 2-year-old Ashelyn Hughes and 1-year-old William E. Bowsher. Prosecutors said he shot the woman and children to death after learning that she intended to return to her ex-husband.
Trueblood said the deaths resulted from a suicide attempt by Susan Bowsher.

Trueblood told the parole board last month that he, Bowsher and her children were driving on a rural road outside Lafayette when she pulled out a handgun and shot Ashelyn. He described Bowsher as suicidal.

He said he tried to wrestle the gun from Bowsher with one hand as he drove with the other. The gun went off twice more, with the 2nd shot hitting William in the head. He said Bowsher then shot herself twice and that she was wounded so badly he fatally shot her in an act of mercy.

The parole board chairman, however, called Trueblood's account "wholly improbable." Relatives and friends of Bowsher have called his story a lie and have asked for the execution to be carried out.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)

     Ernest Martin, 42, 2003-06-18, Ohio

Accusing the state of using false testimony, a convicted killer who long claimed innocence was executed this morning after dropping a mental retardation claim and losing a late court appeal.

Ernest Martin, 42, was convicted of killing a store owner in Cleveland 20 years ago.

Time of death by injection was 10:11 a.m.

Martin had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to delay his execution while he raised issues of poor legal aid. The court refused on Tuesday without comment.

Martin, wearing a white short-sleeve shirt, dark pants and brown boots, calmly entered the death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility shortly after 10 a.m. He gave a quick, friendly wave to the five media witnesses.

In a written statement released after his death, and during a three-minute speech while strapped to the death table, Martin compared his situation to the trials of Jesus, who was put to death "on the false testimony" of people who received money in exchange for lies.

"I'm being treated the same way Christ was treated," Martin said as he lay on the table. "But I don't hold no grudges against no one."

He told his family he loved them and appreciated the life he had with them, "even though it wasn't a good life."

His last words were, "God bless all of you. That's all I have to say."

He lay quietly on the table afterward, saying a brief prayer before chemicals were injected through tubes in his arms.

Prison system spokeswoman Andrea Dean said Martin's statement was by far the longest and the most articulate of any of the 8 people put to death so far.

After the curtain was drawn, his sister, Debra Reese, said, "Finally set free."

"Don't worry, Jehovah will take care of it. We'll see him in the end," she said.

Martin spent most of Wednesday morning on the phone with his mother, Frances, 67, and visited with other relatives at the prison. He slept for about an hour.

He had tried several approaches to avoiding execution. He claimed innocence, argued he was mentally retarded and said he received poor legal aid.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his request to delay the execution for time to make the legal aid argument. Gov. Bob Taft earlier denied him clemency.

Martin dropped the mental retardation claim - based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year - after a psychologist hired by his attorneys determined he was not mentally retarded.

Prosecutors said he plotted to rob store owner Robert Robinson with a gun he stole from a security guard in December 1982. He says a man he knew only as Slim did both crimes. He says he walked to the store to see what happened after the robbery occurred.

Slim was never identified.

For the first time since 1999, there were no execution witnesses representing the victim, Dean said. The only family member the state could find, Robinson's widow, Anna, did not want to be present.

Martin's spiritual adviser, Charles Morgan, his sister and his nephew, Curtis Martin, were the inmate's witnesses.

Outside the prison, the Rev. Neil Kookoothe, associate pastor of St. Clarence Roman Catholic Church in the Cleveland suburb of North Olmsted, said Ohioans might become more concerned about the death penalty as the pace of executions picks up.

2 more executions are scheduled for next week. Kookoothe said Ohio is on pace to become 2nd only to Texas in the number of executions.

"That's a pretty startling fact," he said.

Kookoothe has led demonstrations at every execution since 1999. The group sets up sandwich boards with the names of death row inmates and another memorial for the victim.

In Cleveland, 4 death penalty opponents held hands and prayed outside the Old Stone Church on Public Square at the 10 a.m. scheduled execution time.

"I think the cycle of violence needs to stop," said Tom O'Brien, 39, of Cleveland. "We live in such a society where violence is acceptable behavior. What Mr. Martin did was wrong and he should be punished for it, but I think to put him to death is just another act of violence by the people of Ohio and the state of Ohio."

Martin grew up in Cleveland, the 4th of 7 brothers and sisters. His parents divorced when he was 4. His father, a roofer, died of cancer in 1984.

"We didn't possess very much, but we always had the necessities: clothing, food and lots of love," Martin wrote in an unpublished 1995 book, "Casualty of Justice."

Prosecutors said he forced his girlfriend, Josephine Pedro, to help with the robbery by persuading Robinson - who knew Pedro - to open the shop after hours on Jan. 21, 1983.

Robinson opened the door to Pedro, who asked for medicine for a cough, just before 1 a.m. He then shut and locked the door after she entered. Prosecutors say Martin stood outside the door and fired twice, fatally wounding the store owner.

Prosecutors say Martin, who lived nearby, left the store, went home and changed clothes, then returned to the store to finish the robbery.

Martin says he was inside his apartment when he heard gunshots.

Martin becomes the 8th condemned inmate to be put to death in Ohio since the state resumed capital punishment in 1999.

(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)