Death Penalty and Death Row in USA

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Penalty in USA


Information about persons executed 1998

 

    Andrew Lavern Smith - 38 yrs - 98-12-18 - South Carolina

In Columbia, a man sentenced to die for the brutal 1983 slaying of an elderly South Carolina couple was put to death Friday in the 500th U.S. execution since capital punishment resumed in 1977, a prison spokesman said.
Andrew Lavern Smith, who grew up preaching sermons from the Bible only to become a convicted murderer, stared at the ceiling, then closed his eyes and lay silent as a dose of lethal chemicals was injected into his veins.
The landmark execution sparked protests around the world, and 9 death- penalty opponents were arrested by police outside the Broad River state prison in Columbia, South Carolina, after they blocked a street during a peaceful demonstration staged while Smith ate his last meal.
About 60 death-penalty opponents had gathered outside the prison, unfurling a banner calling for abolition of the death penalty and covering the white cloth with "bloody'' red handprints.
"The bloody handprints will symbolize the blood that is on all our hands. Then we will wash the blood from our hands and stage a civil disobedience," demonstrator Abe Bonowitz said before the execution.
"I'm going to jail rather than allow the state to kill in my name."
The U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 reinstated the death penalty, and executions resumed in January 1977 in Utah, when career criminal Gary Gilmore stood before a firing squad and was shot through the heart.
Smith's fate was sealed when the Supreme Court rejected last-ditch appeals less than an hour before he was put to death and Gov. David Beasley refused to grant clemency to halt the execution, the last one scheduled in the United States this year.
Smith was sentenced to die for stabbing to death 86-year-old Christy Johnson and his 82-year-old wife, Corrie Johnson, in Pendleton in northwest South Carolina after the couple refused to lend him their car, prosecutors said.
Christy Johnson, Smith's former landlord, was stabbed 26 times with a butcher's knife, and his wife, Smith's second cousin, was stabbed 17 times. Christy Johnson's wallet was taken, along with the couple's car, prosecutors said.
Besides being convicted for killing the Johnsons, Smith was indicted but not tried in 2 other murders and was a chief suspect in another 2.
"My brother was the 1st person killed by Andy Smith. The Johnsons were the last,'' said Donna Craig, who witnessed the execution.
On death row in the state prison in Ridgeville, Smith was cited for 5 minor infractions, including fighting with another inmate in 1989 and swearing at guards in 1992. After undergoing a religious conversion, he drew greeting cards that he regularly sent to relatives and friends.
Smith was transferred from death row to the Broad River prison, home of the state's death chamber, about 5 hours before his execution.
(source: Reuters)
 

    John Wayne Duvall, 47 yrs - 98-12-17 - Oklahoma

In McAlester, a man who stabbed his estranged wife 25 times with kitchen knives and a meat fork was executed by injection early Thursday.
John Wayne Duvall, 47, was convicted of the Sept. 15, 1986 murder of Karla Duvall, 30. The victim was killed at the couple's home in Duncan.
Prosecutors say Duvall confessed to stabbing her during an argument and then finishing her off by suffocating her with a pillow.
Stephens County District Attorney Gene Christian said Duvall had planned to commit suicide by throwing himself in front of a train.
But after waiting a while for one to come through, Duvall gave up, went to the local courthouse and confessed to a county commissioner, Christian said.
"It has been 12 long, painful years for me and my family to see justice served and now the time has come for judgment day, and just maybe now I can find peace and some form of closure out of this ordeal," said Teresa Perkins, Mrs. Duvall's daughter from a previous marriage.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
 

    James Ronald Meanes - 98-12-15 - Texas

Associated Press and Rick Halperin:
Dec. 15, 1998---
In Huntsville, a 42-year-old man was executed Tuesday for the 1981 slaying of a Houston man during a $1.1 million armored car heist.
James Ronald Meanes was pronounced dead at 6:36 p.m., 8 minutes after an executioner began the flow of lethal drugs.
"As the ocean always returns to itself, love always returns to itself," Meanes said in his brief final statement. "So does consciousness always return to itself. And I do so with love on my lips. May God bless all mankind."
A medical technician had difficulty finding veins in Meanes' arms, the usual entry point for the injection, so needles were inserted in the left side of his neck and in his right hand. Authorities said they assumed the difficulty was caused by Meanes' past use of illicit drugs.
As the drugs took effect, Meanes pursed his lips and sputtered 3 times before he stopped moving.
The victim's 3 grown children - Teresa, Scarlet, and Oliver Flores - witnessed the execution of their father's killer along with their aunt and uncle, Maria and Patrick Salinas.
"At least I don't have any more monsters in my closet," said Teresa Flores, 26. "You know, I have a face with my monster now and realize it's not a monster, it's an actual person. It makes it easier to deal with the pain."
Meanes declined to file last-minute appeals, saying he didn't want to postpone his inevitable fate.
He was 25 when he and co-defendant Sandoval "Carlos" Santana were convicted and each sentenced to death for the April 12, 1981 shooting of Purolator Armored Inc. guard Oliver Flores, 29.
Defense attorney Stanley Schneider said his client is a man transformed by his 17 years behind bars.
"He's not the person that went out and committed an armored car robbery," Schneider said. "He's not that same person."
On that spring day in 1981, Meanes and Santana emptied their shotguns and pistols, firing into the armored van Flores was driving as he made a scheduled stop at a Houston department store.
They stole 12 money sacks containing $1.1 million and fled into a nearby wooded area, where they were caught about an hour later.
Prosecutors never were able to determine which man's bullet killed Flores.
Santana, a native of the Dominican Republic, was executed in 1993. But judicial oversight resulted in an additional 7 years on death row for Meanes after prosecutors lost track of his case once a federal judge rejected an appeal in 1988.
Prosecutors did nothing until 1995 because they didn't realize the judge had ruled in the case. The case file had been unopened for so long it was shipped to an archives office in Fort Worth.
The mistake was discovered when the Harris County district attorney's office began a review of lingering capital cases.
Meanes becomes the 20th condemned inmate to be put to death in Texas this year, and the 164th overall since the state resumed executions on Dec. 7, 1982. It is the 2nd highest total of executions in Texas in a single year, trailing only the 37 condemned men put to death in Huntsville in 1997.
Meanes becomes the 66th condemned inmate to be put to death in the USA this year, and the 498th overall since America resumed executions on Jan. 17, 1977.
John Duvall is scheduled to be put to death in Oklahoma at 12:01 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 17, and Andrew Smith, who would become the 500th condemned inmate to be put to death in America since the death penalty was re-legalized on July 2, 1976, is scheduled to die by lethal injection in South Carolina at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 18.


    Louis Truesdale, 40 - 98-12-11 - South Carolina

Associated Press and Rick Halperin:

In Columbia, a man convicted of killing an 18-year-old woman after abducting her from a grocery store parking lot was executed by injection Friday.
Louis Truesdale, 40, was executed on his 18th anniversary on death row. He was convicted of killing Rebecca Ann Eudy of Heath Springs in 1980.
In the death chamber, Truesdale's lawyer read his final statement, in which he apologized to his family and Eudy's family. "I'm particularly sad that I have never been able to be a father to my son," Truesdale said.
Truesdale claimed a hitchhiker he picked up pulled a gun and forced him to kill Eudy. The defense was not allowed at trial to introduce evidence that fingerprints other than Truesdale's and Eudy's were found in his car.
Appeals courts twice overturned Truesdale's death sentence, but the 3rd resentencing was upheld on appeal in 1987.
Gov. David Beasley on Thursday refused to commute Truesdale's sentence to life without parole.
The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals, in Richmond, Va., also denied Truesdale's final appeal, said Robb McBurney, a state attorney's general.
Earlier this week, defense lawyer John Blume sent Beasley results of a lie-detector test that he said proved Truesdale did not deserve to die.
To seek the death penalty, prosecutors had to prove aggravating circumstances such as kidnapping and rape. But 5 witnesses who knew Truesdale said he had an ongoing sexual relationship with Eudy, Blume said.
Blume said the lie-detector test proved Truesdale dated Eudy.
Blume this week also produced an affidavit from a lawyer who interviewed Pam Ross, the only black juror at Truesdale's 1987 sentencing. She told an investigator that fellow jurors intimidated her into voting for the death penalty.
"Ms. Ross said there were 2 young white male jurors who made remarks such as 'this nigger has to fry,'" attorney Leslie Hall said. Ross also said "she had to live in that county and could not afford to have white people angry with her," Hall said.
Truesdale becomes the 6th condemned inmate to be put to death in South Carolina this year, and the 19th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1985.
Truesdale also becomes the 65th condemned inmate to be put to death in the USA in 1998, and the 497th overall since America resumed capital punishment on Jan. 17, 1977.
 

    Larry Gilbert, 43, 98-12-04, South Carolina

In Columbia, 2 killers who were half brothers were executed by injection Friday for killing a gas station owner during a robbery.
Larry Gilbert, 43, and J.D. Gleaton, 53, were put to death for the stabbing and shooting death of Ralph Stoudemire.
Gilbert died 1st. The pair had spent more than two decades on death row.
"I thought when this day came that I wouldn't be sad, that I would be happy, but I am," said Stoudemire's widow, Betty Slusher.
"Let's face it, we're taking two men's lives."
It was the 1st time since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 that 2 brothers were executed on the same day, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.
Their 21 years, 1 month and 27 days on death row is among the longest waits. An Arizona man, Jose Ceja, spent 23 years and a month on death row before he was executed, Dieter said.
Authorities said the pair, both high on drugs, entered Stoudemire's gas station July 12, 1977, to rob it. Gleaton stabbed the 44-year-old Stoudemire 5 times, including once in the heart. Gilbert shot him.
In 1979, the state Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing trial because of a prosecutor's remarks. They were resentenced to death.
In 1996, a federal judge said they deserved a new trial because of improper jury instructions, but an appeals court overturned that ruling.
Gilbert and Gleaton become the 4th and 5th condemned prisoners to be put to death this year in South Carolina, and the 17th and 18th overall since the state resumed executions in 1985.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
 

    J.D. Gleaton, 53, 98-12-04, South Carolina

In Columbia, 2 killers who were half brothers were executed by injection Friday for killing a gas station owner during a robbery.
Larry Gilbert, 43, and J.D. Gleaton, 53, were put to death for the stabbing and shooting death of Ralph Stoudemire.
Gilbert died 1st. The pair had spent more than two decades on death row.
"I thought when this day came that I wouldn't be sad, that I would be happy, but I am," said Stoudemire's widow, Betty Slusher.
"Let's face it, we're taking two men's lives."
It was the 1st time since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 that 2 brothers were executed on the same day, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.
Their 21 years, 1 month and 27 days on death row is among the longest waits. An Arizona man, Jose Ceja, spent 23 years and a month on death row before he was executed, Dieter said.
Authorities said the pair, both high on drugs, entered Stoudemire's gas station July 12, 1977, to rob it. Gleaton stabbed the 44-year-old Stoudemire 5 times, including once in the heart. Gilbert shot him.
In 1979, the state Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing trial because of a prosecutor's remarks. They were resentenced to death.
In 1996, a federal judge said they deserved a new trial because of improper jury instructions, but an appeals court overturned that ruling.
Gilbert and Gleaton become the 4th and 5th condemned prisoners to be put to death this year in South Carolina, and the 17th and 18th overall since the state resumed executions in 1985.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
 

    Daniel Lee Corwin, 40, 99-12-07, Texas

In Huntsville, a serial killer who blamed uncontrollable "pressures in my head" for his violent sprees was executed Monday for murdering 3 Southeast Texas women during a 9-month period of 1987.
Daniel Lee Corwin, 40, of Temple, was pronounced dead at 6:33 p.m., 7 minutes after a lethal flow of drugs was started into his arms.
Corwin spent much of a lengthy final statement addressing 6 family members of his victims who watched from a few feet away.
"I want to express my sorrow and regrets from the deepest part of my heart," he said. "I'm sorry. I regret what happened and I want you to know that I'm sorry. I just ask and hope that sometime down the line that you can forgive me. I think in a lot of ways without that it becomes very empty and hollow and the only thing we have is hatred and anger."
He also suggested that the state reconsider the death penalty, which he called "2-sided."
"There's pain on both sides," he said.
Corwin was condemned under the state's serial killer statute for the murders of Alice Martin, 72, of Normangee; Debra Lynn Ewing, 26, of Conroe; and Mary Carrell Risinger, 36, of Huntsville.
All died similarly horrible deaths.
Ms. Martin was abducted while walking near her home in February 1987. She was found in a Robertson County field, raped, strangled and stabbed.
Ms. Ewing was abducted in July 1987 from her job at a Huntsville eyeglass office. She was found 2 days later in Montgomery County, raped, strangled and stabbed.
"I get satisfaction he's dead and not going to get out," Wanda Simmons, 29, of Odessa, Ms. Ewing's sister, said after watching Corwin die. "I expected him to lay there and die. And he did."
Ms. Risinger was fatally stabbed during an attempted abduction while washing her car at a Huntsville car wash in October 1987. Her then 3-year-old daughter, who was inside the vehicle, watched the attack.
"He was just an animal," said William Carrell, 44, of Alvin, Ms. Risinger's brother. "I think it was too easy."
A Montgomery County jury in 1990, after hearing chilling testimony from 3 rape victims who survived his attacks, took only 25 minutes to decide he should be put to death.
"I think they invented the death penalty for people like him," Peter Speers, the former Montgomery County district attorney who prosecuted Corwin, said Monday. "He's a bona fide serial killer. And I think the events surrounding him point out how lousy the parole system here was in the 1980s. He's just bad, bad, bad."
Corwin, who worked as a cabinet maker and had 3 years of college, had a history of sexual assaults beginning as a teen-ager and was serving a 99-year sentence for attempted capital murder from Brazos County when he confessed to killing the 3 women.
Corwin earlier had been paroled after serving more than 9 years of a 40-year term for aggravated rape. He had pleaded guilty to the rape charge stemming from the abduction of a classmate at Temple High School who was stabbed and left for dead. The wound, however, just missed her heart and she survived to identify Corwin as her attacker.
The 99-year term was for the abduction of a Texas A&M University student who was raped and left for dead after having her throat slashed. The woman, who had been tied to a tree, managed to free herself and stumble out of some woods to a road where she was picked up by a motorist. Corwin's fingerprint later was found on her car and he pleaded guilty to attempted capital murder.
2 years later, in a conversation with a prison sociologist, he began talking about the Risinger killing, then the others, and later told authorities details of the previous rapes, including one committed when he was 14 and the victim was a 13-year-old girl baby-sitting at a home in his neighborhood.
Corwin's parents testified at his murder trial that he suffered 2 accidental but severe cuts to his head when he was a child.
Psychologists who have interviewed him suggested he could have suffered brain damage that was not easily detectable.
Corwin told detectives the pressure in his head led to what he called "tunnel vision" that after a few days led to his need to commit violence.
Corwin becomes the 18th condemned prisoner to be put to death in Texas this year, and the 162nd overall since Texas resumed capital punishment on this date 16 years ago, Dec. 7, 1982.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
 

    Jeff Emery, 39, 98-12-o8 - Texas

In Huntsville, a former air conditioner repairman from Minnesota was executed Tuesday evening for the rape-slaying of a Texas A&M University student more than 19 years ago.
Jeff Emery, 39, was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m., 6 minutes after an executioner started a flow of lethal drugs into his arms.
In a very brief statement, Emery expressed love to a female friend who watched through glass a few feet away.
"You know how I feel about you," he said. "Take care of yourself. That's all I have to say."
As the drugs took effect, Emery gasped twice and exhaled deeply before he stopped moving.
Emery was condemned for the Oct. 12, 1979, attack on LaShan Muhlinghaus, who entered her College Station apartment while Emery was inside committing a burglary.
"What happened to him is what should have happened to him," her sister, Dee, said after watching the execution. "He made that decision when he killed my sister.
"I'm not happy. I'm not going out tonight to celebrate, but I'm relieved. And I think all of my family is relieved that Mr. Emery will never be able to do this to anyone else and no other family will have to suffer what we went through for 19 years."
Authorities said Emery, who never got beyond the 8th grade, hid inside a closet and attacked the 19-year-old student from Rowlett with a knife when she walked in. She was raped and her body mutilated with 25 stab wounds.
The case went unsolved for 4 years until Emery's ex-wife went to police in Milwaukee and told them about her husband returning home that night covered with blood.
"She couldn't take it any more," recalled Brazos County District Attorney Bill Turner, who prosecuted Emery.
Detectives then tracked down Emery, who at the time was being held in St. Paul, Minn., on 3 counts of burglary.
"When he was arrested, he was planning to kill his wife for turning him in," Turner said. "Other people said he was planning his wife's death. Some cases are just obvious. I'm convinced he would have hurt other people if we had not done our job.
"Truly he is the one guy if he were out in the free world I would fear for me and my family. I've tried a dozen or so capital murder cases, but his threat is not just an intellectual argument."
The U.S. Supreme Court refused last month to consider his appeals, clearing the way for the punishment to be carried out.
Emery, who declined to be interviewed by reporters, was tried twice for the murder. His 1st conviction was thrown out by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals when parts of the trial transcript turned up missing.
Emery becomes the 19th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas, and the 163rd overall since the state resumed executions on Dec. 7, 1982.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
 

    Tuan Anh Nguyen, 39, 98-12-10 - Oklahoma

In McAlester, a Vietnamese immigrant convicted of killing his estranged wife and 2 young children was executed by injection on his 39th birthday early Thursday.
Tuan Anh Nguyen was convicted of fatally stabbing his 20-year-old wife, Donna Nguyen, and her young relatives, 3-year-old Amanda White and 6-year-old Joseph White, in 1982.
Nguyen received the death sentence for killing the children. The Nguyens' infant son was found unharmed in his crib at the Tulsa duplex where the others were killed.
Nguyen came to America as a teen-age Vietnamese refugee in 1975 during the fall of Saigon. Assistant federal public defender Scott W. Braden contended that Nguyen's mental health had deteriorated so much he could not understand the death penalty.
Corrections Department spokesman Jerry Massie said Nguyen did not request any witnesses to view his execution or any minister beside him in the death chamber.
Nguyen becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death in Oklahoma this year, and the 12th overall since the state resumed executins in 1990.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
 

    Kevin DeWayne Cardwell - 98-12-03 - Virginia

Associated Press and Rick Halperin:

In Jarratt, Kevin DeWayne Cardwell, convicted of killing a teen-age drug courier in a Richmond suburb in 1991, was executed Thursday night, hours after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a final appeal.
Cardwell, 29, was put to death by injection at the Greensville Correctional Center. He was pronounced dead at 9:05 p.m.
Asked if he had a final statement, Cardwell said: "Personally, yeah. Why was all them sick people looking at me through that glass?"
The reference was to witnesses who attend executions.
Earlier Thursday, the Supreme Court voted 7-2 to reject Cardwell's appeal. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens were in the minority.
The appeal was the last hope for Cardwell, who did not request clemency from Gov. Jim Gilmore. Cardwell's attorney, Dennis W. Dohnal, said his client wanted "to depart with a sense of dignity."
Cardwell was visited Thursday by his grandmother, his attorney and prison clergy, Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor said.
Cardwell was convicted in 1993 of the murder, robbery and abduction of Anthony Brown of Hempstead, N.Y., in Henrico County.
Cardwell and several friends learned that Brown was arriving at a Richmond bus station with drugs. They met him and took his luggage.
When they discovered no drugs in the bags, a friend of Cardwell's lured Brown to Cardwell's apartment, where they found cocaine taped to Brown's leg. The men then took Brown into woods, where Cardwell killed him.
In August, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Cardwell's claim that he received ineffective counsel. Cardwell contended his lawyers failed to fully develop and present evidence on his mental health.
Cardwell becomes the 13th comdemned prisoner to be put to death this year in Virginia, and the 59th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982.
Cardwell also becomes the 59th condemned prisoner to be put to death this year in the USA, and the 491st overall since America resumed capital punishment on Jan. 17, 1977.
 

     John Thomas Noland, 98-11-20, North Carolina

Associated Press:

In Raleigh, a man who killed his estranged wife's father and sister, saying he blamed her family for the breakup of their marriage, was executed early Friday.
John Thomas Noland, 50, was declared dead from a lethal injection at 2:15 a.m., said Patty McQuillan, a state Department of Correction spokeswoman.
"I just want to say that I'm sorry I caused so many people so much pain," Noland said in his final statement. "So many people returned with love, that I caused a lot of people a lot of pain and other people gave me an awful lot of love.
"I feel like I'm a very lucky man."
Noland had been separated from his wife, Susan for several months when he went to the home of her sister, Cindy Milton, and shot her to death Feb. 21, 1982.
He then crossed the street and killed her father, Troy Milton, as he slept and wounded her mother, Mary Milton.
In October 1982, a jury sentenced Noland to death.
Noland said he was depressed at the time of the slayings because his wife had left him and taken their 2 young daughters with her to California. He blamed his in-laws for the marriage's failure.
In appeals of his case, federal district judges 3 times ordered new trials for Noland because of what they thought to be errors in jury instructions, but the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruled them every time.
Death penalty opponents - including retired North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith - pleaded unsuccessfully with Gov. Jim Hunt for a reprieve. Noland's lawyer, Jim Cooney, said before Hunt's refusal Thursday that his client wanted "to go out with dignity," and no other steps would be taken regardless of Hunt's decision.
Noland becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death in North Carolina this year, and the 11th overall since the state resumed executions in 1984.
Noland also becomes the 58th condemned inmate to be put to death in the USA this year, and the 490th overall since America resumed capital punishment on Jan. 17, 1977.

(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)

Written Statement by John Noland:
"I'm 2 1/2 hours away from execution and I feel like the luckiest man alive, excuse the pun. It's the Love, Love surrounds me, comforts me, makes me very happy in my last hours. Love from our God, my family, members of Sisk Memorial Baptist Church, Binkley Baptist Church, People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, my brothers on death row, and thousands of others across the world.
I've been lucky to get to know so many great friends and great people.
To die knowing my two wonderful daughters love and forgive me makes my heart soar during a time when I should be full of fear, maximum fear.
To the victim's family I love all of you and wish you peace and love, hope to see you in heaven where you will find out the factual truth about what happened on Feb. 21st 1982 not some cock & bull story from the prosecutors.
Again I love you and hope find closure after my death. (sic) Seek out God and feel His Love.
John Noland
12:10 AM
11-20-98

Oral Statement by John Noland, about 1 a.m., Nov. 20, 1998:
"Well, I made one final statement, but I just want to say that I'm sorry that I caused so many people so much pain, but it's weird that they've...
So many people returned with love, that I caused a lot of people a lot of pain and other people gave me an awful lot of love. As I said in my statement, I feel like I'm a very lucky man."

John Thomas Noland Jr. was executed at 2:00 a.m. Nov. 20, 1998 by the people of North Carolina. About 100 people attended a prayer service or candlelight vigil in Raleigh; others protested in Charlotte, Davidson, and Wilmington, N.C.
(source: People of Faith Against the Death Penalty)
 

    Kenneth McDuff, 98-11-17, Texas

Dallas Morning News:

Only the U.S. Supreme Court stands between infamous killer Kenneth McDuff and a Tuesday evening appointment in the Texas death chamber.
The 52-year-old McDuff, the oly condemned Texas inmate ever paroled and then returned to death row for another murder conviction, headed to the high court after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans late Monday rejected his request for a reprieve.
A formal written ruling would not be released until Tuesday, but the appeals court indicated that it would not rule favorably on Mr. McDuff's appeal, his lawyer and the Texas attorney general's office said.
The Supreme Court was the next step.
"That will be the plan," said Mr. McDuff's lawyer, Walter Reaves.
It also was probably the final step because Mr. McDuff's attorneys made no attempt to seek clemency from Texas officials.
"Unless the courts intervene in any way, shape or form at this point, ..(the execution) will be carried out," Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Chairman Victor Rodriguez said Monday.
Mr. McDuff, considered among Texas' most violent and sadistic criminals, was seeking a delay so additional tests could be conducted on hair samples that authorities said linked him to the 1992 rape-slaying of Melissa Ann Northrup, 22, a pregnant mother of 2 from Waco.
Abducted from a convenience store where she worked, her body was found in a gravel pit. Her hands were tied behind her back and she had been strangled with a rope.
He also received a 2nd death sentence in 1994 for killing 28-year-old accountant Colleen Reed, who was abducted in Austin. And authorities say Mr. McDuff may be responsible for as many as a dozen other killings, primarily in central Texas between Austin and Waco.
"I can't imagine anyone in this country who deserves to die more than Kenneth McDuff," said Lori Bible, Ms. reed's sister. "I can't imagine our courts will step in and try to stop this. But then I never could have imagined someone would vote to free this monster from prison."
Ms. Bible, who could have watched the execution, gave her death chamber witness spot to a federal marshal who headed the investigation that led to Mr. McDuff's arrest. However, 5 other friends and relatives of McDuff murder victims are scheduled to attend.
Mr. McDuff selected 2 nieces and 2 nephews, along with a spiritual adviser, to watch him die.
Mr. McDuff, 1st imprisoned in 1965 for burglary, went to death row in 1968 for the shooting deaths 2 years earlier of 2 teenage boys and the rape-strangulation of their 16-year-old female companion.
But while he was awaiting execution, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 struck down the death penalty as unconstitutional, and Mr. McDuff's sentence was commuted to life.
He won parole about 17 years later when parole board members, facing severe crowding in texas prisons, released him along with thousands of inmates so they could free space for newly convicted felons. Ms. Northrup and Ms. Reed were killed a short time later.
It wasn't until last month that an informant's tip led authorities to Ms. Reed's skeleton, buried along the Brazos River south of Waco. Unearthed nearby were the remains of 2 other women, also thought to be McDuff victims.
Mr. McDuff won a federal court reprieve several weeks ago that put off a scheduled Oct. 21 execution for the Northrup and Reed killings. A federal district judge later lifted the stay in the Northrup case.
He has no execution date pending for the Reed slaying.
Mr. McDuff may be the only condemned inmate in modern American history to be freed from death row and then returned for another murder. Justice department staticians who keep national capital punishment figures say they're not aware of anyone else.
"If we did have someone, I think we'd all know about it," said Mr. Rodriguez, who was not a parole board member when Mr. McDuff was released. "I think many of us would like to see this chapter be past us."
Because of the anger over Mr. McDuff's release and subsequent killing spree, parole proccedures were changed and the state embarked on an unprecedented $2 billion prison construction program.
"Every now and then the issue surfaces about capital punishment," Mr. Rodriguez said. "You're inclined to say if there's a reason, Kenneth McDuff is the reason. He's a poster child for capital punishment in Texas."
    Kenneth Wilson, 34, 1998-11-17, Virginia



In Jarratt, Kenneth Wilson, convicted of stabbing his neighbor to death after tying the woman to a bed and attempting to rape her, was executed Tuesday night, a few hours after Gov. Jim Gilmore rejected a clemency plea.
Wilson, 34, was put to death by injection at the Greensville Correctional Center. He was pronounced dead at 9:09 p.m.
Wilson made no final statement and did not give a response when asked by Warden David Garraghty if he had anything to say.
Earlier in the day, Wilson met with his parents, a sister and his 2 sons.
Larry Traylor, a Department of Corrections spokesman, said relatives of the victim's family had been expected to attend the execution but did not show up.
As the execution hour approached, about a dozen death penalty opponents waited outside the main prison gate.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 to deny Wilson a stay of execution.
Wilson's lawyers had asked Gilmore to commute their client's death sentence to life without parole for the sake of Wilson's sons, ages 13 and 6.
"Losing a parent to execution is different than losing a parent another way. When a parent dies from illness or even homicide, sympathy and community support for the children of the deceased abounds. Not so with the children of a person who is executed," the petition said.
But Gilmore, in denying clemency, noted that Wilson was on parole when Jacqueline M. Stephens was killed in Newport News on March 27, 1993.
"He also bound, stabbed and, for 3 hours, terrorized Ms. Stephens' 12-year-old daughter and another 14-year-old girl who was spending the night in Ms. Stephens' home," Gilmore said. "There never has been any question as to Wilson's guilt."
Armed with a knife, Wilson entered the Stephens home. Wilson knew Ms. Stephens because his cousin was her boyfriend.
Wilson ordered Ms. Stephens, 31, her daughter and the daughter's friend to take off their clothes. He blindfolded the girls and tied them to a bed in the daughter's room.
Over several hours Wilson threatened the girls and Ms. Stephens. On one visit to the girls' room he cut each of them.
He then went into Ms. Stephens' room, and the girls heard her scream as Wilson demanded her car keys.
Police found Ms. Stephens tied to bed posts, her body covered with blood and what appeared to be semen on her leg. She had been stabbed more than 10 times.
The friend had a stab wound on her neck; the daughter was stabbed close to the carotid artery and jugular vein. Her vocal chord nerve was severed.
Wilson was convicted of capital murder, attempted rape, 3 counts of abduction, 2 counts of malicious wounding and grand larceny.
Wilson becomes the 12th condemned inmate to be put to death in Virginia this year, and the 58th overall since the state resumed executions in 1982. (sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
 

     Tyrone X Gilliam, 98-11-16, Maryland

Maryland Sun:

The 6 people who pumped lethal drugs into Tyrone X Gilliam's arm Monday night stood behind a wall in the death chamber so that no one would know who they were.
Baltimore County Circuit Judge John F. Fader II didn't strap Gilliam to the table or start the drip. But it was Fader's decision that put Gilliam in the death chamber -- a decision he made in public, in his courtroom, where there was no wall to shield him.
On Monday night, just as on the day nine years ago when he sentenced Gilliam to death for murdering 21-year-old Christine Doerfler, Fader said he had a heavy heart.
"You come out here and you do the job that needs to be done," Fader said, sitting in the Towson courtroom where he tried Gilliam's case. "It's certainly not a pleasant duty. It's very, very hard."
Fader, 57, better known for trying to sort out messy divorce and child custody cases, was put in a position with the Gilliam case.
In death-penalty cases, a jury usually decides the fate of the defendant in either the criminal case or the sentencing phase.
A jury decided Flint Gregory Hunt should be put to death for killing a city police officer. Hunt was executed last year by lethal injection.
Fader alone convicted and sentenced Gilliam for Doerfler's murder in a robbery that netted $3.
"It's one of the most difficult decisions" a judge has to make, said Baltimore County Circuit Judge J. William Hinkel, a colleague of Fader, who has sentenced one man to death. "You have in your hands the ultimate sanction. That is an awesome responsibility."
Gilliam, 32, is the only man Fader has sentenced to death. Fader has given life in prison to 2 other defendants facing execution in his courtroom.
In one of those cases, the jury had voted to send a man to the death chamber, but the sentence was reversed on appeal. Fader gave him a life sentence.
In both cases, Fader saw reasons to spare their lives. One of the defendants had a history of psychiatric problems -- and later hanged herself in prison. The other had been in foster care his entire life and was living in a bus at the time of the murder he committed.
Fader saw no reason under the law to excuse Gilliam from the ultimate punishment.
"It was a coldblooded murder, and what a waste of human life, a vibrant life," he said.
Gilliam had confessed to the crime. A co-defendant testified that Gilliam had done it. Fader did not believe drugs Gilliam had taken that night -- PCP and cocaine -- had fundamentally impaired his judgment.
"He had as much support help from a loving, caring family with the ability to help as most people have in life," Fader said at the 1989 sentencing hearing. "He chose not to accept that advice, that counseling, that opportunity. He chose drugs, and the crime that was committed here."
When he sentenced Gilliam, the judge said he thought of the picture of Christine Doerfler with a 2-inch hole in the back of her head.
He said he thought of the life draining out of her young body as she sat in her car at the deadend of a road.
"I can say only with a heavy heart and with no satisfaction with the duty that I must perform that I conclude that death is the sentence to be applied in this case," Fader said at the time.
He signed Gilliam's death warrant several times over the past 9 years as the case was appealed to court after court. When he signed the warrant in October, he knew that this would be the last one. Every time he saw Doerfler's picture flash across the screen, he said, he thought of the crime again.
On Monday night, Fader watched the accounts of the execution on television. He had no regrets. Just a heavy heart.
"Sometimes the events of life surround all of us like thick smoke in a closed room," he said, recounting the words of a favorite book.
"That is a death penalty case from the minute it is filed. You are smothered with the magnitude of the situation."

Washington Post:

Convicted murderer Tyrone D. Gilliam was executed by chemical injection at the Maryland Penitentiary late last night, the 1st of at least 6 condemned men across the country scheduled to be executed this week.
Gilliam, 32, who was convicted in the Dec. 2, 1988, shotgun slaying of 21-year-old Baltimore hardware store accountant Christine Doerfler in a $3 robbery and carjacking, was pronounced dead at 10:27 p.m., a few minutes after prison guards administered a lethal dose of drugs through intravenous lines.
Before the injections started, Gilliam said, "Allah, forgive them for what they do." Then he turned toward his attorney and a Muslim spiritual adviser among the witnesses and said, "I love you," according to media representatives who were present.
His final words, they said, were "Allah akbar," Arabic for 'God is great.'
Outside the stone and brick penitentiary a half-mile from Baltimore's bustling Inner Harbor, more than 200 capital punishment opponents, many holding candles, sang songs of support for Gilliam and chanted, "They say death row, we say hell no."
Earlier in the day, both the Supreme Court and Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) rebuffed 11th-hour petitions to spare Gilliam.
His case attracted national attention when Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan issued an urgent plea for mercy Sunday to Glendening, saying that Gilliam's conversion to Islam had "helped him to see the error of his ways." Gilliam joined the Nation of Islam in 1994 and went by the names Tyrone X. Gilliam and Minister As-siid Ben Maryam.
Gilliam was the third inmate executed in Maryland in this decade after a hiatus of almost 33 years.
At least 5 other condemned men in prisons from Virginia to California are awaiting execution this week, one of the largest numbers scheduled in 1 week in recent years, according to anti-capital punishment groups that monitor death penalty cases. 3 men, including one in Virginia, are set to be executed Tuesday.
"It's an unusual number by any measure," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. So far this year, he said, there have been 54 executions.
In Gilliam's case, Glendening turned down a petition for clemency, saying the facts in the case showed that "Mr. Gilliam shot and murdered Miss Doerfler in cold blood."
In a 5-paragraph statement, the governor said he had reviewed evidence in the case since Gilliam's death warrant was issued Oct. 5. In the course of his review, he said, he had found that Gilliam confessed twice to pulling the trigger and that his confessions were corroborated by 2 co-defendants in the case.
Glendening also noted that Gilliam's case has been reviewed and upheld 16 times by state and federal appellate courts.
According to trial testimony, Gilliam and brothers Kelvin LeGrant Drummond and Delano Anthony "Tony" Drummond ambushed Doerfler in a suburban parking lot after a day of heavy drinking and drug use. When they found she had only $3, according to testimony, they ordered her to drive them to an automated teller machine.
On the way, they changed their minds and forced her to drive to a secluded area in Baltimore County where, Kelvin Drummond and police testified, Gilliam shot Doerfler in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun. Drummond testified that Gilliam told him he killed Doerfler because she had seen his face.
Gilliam, convicted as the trigger man, was sentenced to death.
Kelvin Drummond, who testified under a plea agreement, received a life sentence with the possibility of parole. Tony Drummond drew a sentence of life without parole.
Since the murder, Gilliam changed his account, at one point saying he was not the trigger man.
Last week, he told reporters he was so heavily drugged during the incident that he could not remember what happened.
Gilliam's attorney, Jerome H. Nickerson Jr., also produced affidavits from the Drummond brothers stating that Gilliam was not the trigger man. Neither affidavit said who fired the shotgun, but Nickerson said Saturday that if he could get a court hearing, the shooter would be identified.
On Sunday, prosecutors obtained new statements from both Drummonds, in which the brothers said the affidavits they had given Nickerson were not true.
The new statements were included in prosecutors' filings with the governor in his consideration of Gilliam's bid for clemency.
 

    Sammy Roberts, 40, 98-09-25, South Carolina

A man who took part in the robbery and fatal shooting of 3 service station attendants was executed by injection Friday.
Sammy Roberts, 40, was condemned for his part in the deaths of Bill Spain, Kenneth Krause and Louis Cakley.
They were all robbed then driven to wooded areas where they were shot to death June 19, 1980. The bodies were found 3 days later.
Roberts, Wesley Copeland and Danny Ray Coker were arrested later that year.
Coker testified against the other two in exchange for immunity, saying Copeland shot Spain and Krause, while Roberts repeatedly stabbed Krause to make sure he was dead. Roberts later shot Cakley in the back 4 times as he tried to run, Coker said. The robberies netted about $1,500.
Copeland died of natural causes on death row in 1986.
Stewart becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in South Carolina, and the 16th overall in the state since executions were resumed there in 1985.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
 

    Javier Cruz, 41 - 98-10-1 - Texas

In Huntsville, with a reassuring nod to his brother and ex-wife, Javier Cruz was put to death Thursday, 7 years after he strangled 2 elderly Bexar County men and robbed them to support his heroin habit.
Cruz, 41, gave a lengthy gasp moments before he was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m., 7 minutes after a lethal dose of chemicals began flowing into his veins.
He declined to give a last statement while strapped to a gurney in the death chamber of the Walls Unit, but earlier wrote a brief statement that read: "Thank you for setting me free. God bless you all. I love you Miguel. Take care of my angel Leslie."
It was signed, "Love, Javier Cruz."
The names referred to his brother, Miguel Cruz, and his daughter, Leslie.
Miguel Cruz and the condemned man's ex-wife, Sylvia Liendo, were among 5 people who witnessed the execution at Javier Cruz's request. They declined to speak to reporters.
While inside the observation room, Miguel Cruz comforted a crying Liendo with gentle pats on her back.
2 sons of James Michael Ryan, 1 of Cruz's victims, were among those witnessing the execution in a separate chamber. No witnesses attended on behalf of the other victim, Louis Menard Neal.
"This is not closure to an event, this is a result of the criminal justice system. We still have to daily deal with what happened to us," said Daniel Ryan of Tampa, Fla.
"The system worked for us. We're fortunate it worked as fast as it did," added James Ryan of Austin, the other son. "(But) you don't get a big charge of satisfaction...there's no pleasure in this."
Cruz was on death for about 5 1/2 years, a length of time nearly 4 years shorter than average for death row inmates.
He pursued all appeals available to him, but recent changes in death penalty appeals procedures have quickened the process. The US Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch appeal Tuesday.
Earlier Thursday, Cruz, who grew up in Laredo, wrote letters and visited with his family for about 3 hours before consuming his last meal.
Cruz wa sconvicted of capital murder in October 1992 for strangling Neal and Ryan in separate 1991 incidents.
Neal, 71, was slain June 7, 1991, in his 1-room, 6th floor apartment. His decomposing body, bound and gagged, was found hanging from a bathroom fixture 5 days later. He had been beaten with a hammer and strangled with a bathrobe belt.
In a plea agreement, Antonio Omero Ovalle, Cruz's accomplice, agreed to testify against Cruz in exchange for 2 concurrent life sentences in both cases.
According to court records, the 3 men had been listening to music and drinking vodka when Cruz asked Neal for money. When Neal refused, Cruz began beating him.
After hanging Neal from the shower railing, Cruz and Ovalle took a television, a radio, some suits and a gym bag.
Ryan, 69, was strangled in his home in Olmos Park on July 14, 1991. His nude body was found in his bed a day later. His Cadillac and television had been stolen.
Ovalle told police Cruz stole the items to buy heroin. Robert McClure, the Bexar County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Cruz, recalled describing him a "a creature who walks the earth in human form," during the 1992 trial.
"What stands out in my mind is that he was a multiple killer and that he did it manually," McClure said.
Lawyer Bill Berchelmann, who defended Cruz at the trial, said Cruz himself was a victim because he grew up with an abusive father. That, Berchelmann said, fueled Cruz's drug-induced violent behavior.
"It's a tragedy all the way around. But it's a classic case of how drugs can turn somebody into something they otherwise wouldn't be," Berchelmann said. "When he wasn't on the drugs, he was really a civil person."
Cruz becomes the 15th condemned inmate to be executed this year in Texas, and the 159th overall since Texas resuemd capital punishment on Dec. 7, 1982. Cruz becomes the 4th condemned inmate from Bexar County (San Antonio) to be executed this year.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
 

    Roderick Abeyta, 99-10-5, Nevada

Roderick Abeyta mouthed the words "I'm sorry," to 3 members of Donna Martin's family before quietly lying down and being executed by lethal injection early today.
Abeyta killed Martin, his former girlfriend, in Las Vegas in 1989.
The inmate, who refused a sedative to relax him for the execution, was strapped to a table in what was formerly the gas chamber at the Nevada State Prison.
He was administered intravenously a combination of 3 drugs, 2 of them lethal.
Abeyta went to his execution voluntarily, saying it was morally wrong for him to fight his sentence. It was the 1st execution in Nevada in more than 2 years and the 7th since capital punishment was reinstituted by the 1977 legislature.
8 media representatives, 9 witnesses and several prison officials observed the execution through a glass partition.
At 11:48 p.m. Sunday, the curtains were lowered in the execution chamber so the intravenous needles could be inserted away from witnesses.
2 of the witnesses, members of Martin's family, sobbed quietly as the execution was performed. At 12:13 a.m. the blinds were raised and Abeyta could be seen strapped to the table, staring straight up. He took a few breaths and then was still.
"He was very calm throughout the process and just submitted to the process as he said he would," Prison Director Bob Bayer said.
Just hours before the execution, about 2 dozen people from area Catholic churches held a candlelight vigil near the prison grounds, protesting Abeyta's death.
They held signs that said: "Jesus was executed. What would he say?" And "We pray for those who carry out the execution."
Minden resident Dirk Wunderlich said protesters were urged at weekend church services to come out Sunday evening and peacefully object to the execution.
The Catholic Church has long been an opponent of capital punishment.
"We view it as not really different from the original crime," Wunderlich said.
Inside the prison, Abeyta spent his final hours watching television and making calls. He did not request any special food for his last meal.
Department of Prisons spokesman Glen Whorton said Abeyta was moved to the "last night" cell, just across from the execution chamber, at about noon. He received no family or other outside visitors but spent time with prison Chaplain Al Fry.
Father Jim Kelly, who counsels inmates at Ely State Prison where Abeyta had served time on death row, also visited with him.
Abeyta, 44, had been on death row only a short time, having been convicted by a jury in 1996 for the murder of Martin, 38, in October 1989.
But like several death row inmates before him, Abeyta chose to proceed with his execution rather than fight his sentence in the courts.
Abeyta said he voluntarily underwent a psychological examination to preclude the U.S. Public Defender's office from interceding on his or a family member's behalf to stop the execution, as has been done in other death penalty cases.
As a result, there were no last-minute appeals or court decisions that could have stayed the execution.
Only Abeyta himself could have stopped it.
In an interview Sept. 25, Abeyta said: "You would have to be some kind of superhuman not to have some kind of thoughts about it.
But I also know I'm not going to let my instinct for survival kick in."
His execution was protested by Bishop Phillip Straling of the Catholic Diocese of Reno, who said it"denies the sacredness of life, which mandates that no human life can be taken away as punishment."
But Abeyta, who is Catholic, said the Bible told him that he had to submit to the rule of the state, even if it meant his execution.
Abeyta lived with Martin for about 6 to 8 weeks in the spring of 1989 just after his parole from prison on a robbery charge. But Martin asked Abeyta to move out because of a concern he was stealing from her landlord.
He returned to Martin's home in October, however, with his half-brother, Casey Korsmo, to steal property to finance what he described as a five-day drug binge.
Korsmo, who pleaded guilty in 1994 to 1st-degree murder in exchange for a chance at parole beginning in 2003, said at Abeyta's trial that he heard gunshots shortly after the two men broke into Martin's home.
Martin was killed with two shots to the back of her head from a .25-caliber handgun.
Abeyta could have appealed his case for years but said he was ready to accept his sentence.
"As a Christian, I believe it would be wrong for me to seek a protracted appeal process or to seek further representation, because to do so would be to avoid accountability," he said.
Abeyta said it was his addiction to methamphetamine that led him into the criminal world.
His criminal behavior grew progressively worse.
He served time in California for various crimes. In 1979, he was convicted in Nevada of robbery with a deadly weapon and battery with a deadly weapon. He was in prison until his release on parole in March 1989.
He met Martin shortly after and committed the murder only 7 months later.
Abeyta also said he was abused as a child by his father while growing up in the Bay area but said he did not blame either his drug habit or his family for the murder.
"I've got no one to blame," he said. "It's not because of my culture or my family. There are always dysfunctional families.
Everything I ever did was always of my own choosing. Not that I wanted to do what was wrong. You just kind of give up on life when you're on the wrong path and there's nothing to change it."
Abeyta agreed to an interview because he wanted the Martin family to know the regret he felt for the murder.
"I would just basically like the Martin family to know truly how sorry I am," he said. "By my actions, I realize how much anguish and pain I caused them."
Martin's mother, Pearl, testified at Abeyta's trial. "There have been many, many tears, and there will be more," she said.
While Abeyta decided recently to proceed with his execution, he did not always feel that way. The trial took so long from the time of the crime because Abeyta's mental health was being evaluated.
In the interview, Abeyta said he faked mental illness in an effort to avoid taking responsibility for Martin's death.
But Abeyta said he finally decided that he could not reconcile his use of the court system to delay his sentence with his Christian beliefs and decided to accept his punishment instead.
(sources: Las Vegas Review-Journal and Rick Halperin)
 

    Jonathan Nobles, 37, 98-10-7, Texas

A death row inmate who unsuccessfully tried to donate his organs and even used notorious suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian in a transplant effort was executed Wednesday for killing 2 young Austin women while high on drugs 12 years ago.
Jonathan Nobles, 37, was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m., 5 minutes after an executioner started the flow of lethal drugs into his arms.
In a lengthy final statement, Nobles expressed love to survivors of his victims, including a man wounded in the attack, and sorrow for his actions.
"Ron, I took so much from you. There is nothing I can do to give it back to you. I love you deeply," he said, addressing victim Ron Ross, who was stabbed 19 times and lost an eye. Ross watched through glass a few feet away.
"I carried a lot of anger into that room but after the conversation we had...I think I released it," Ross said afterward.
Nobles addressed virtually every witness by name and expressed love. Then he began quoting a biblical passage from Corinthians about love and said he was dedicating his death "in sacrifice for abuses to the Holy Mother."
After reciting other prayers and scripture passages, Nobles began singing "Silent Night" as the lethal dose was administered. His singing halted mid-phrase with a gasp as the drugs took effect.
Nobles, who claimed to have become addicted to drugs at age 8, was condemned for the stabbing deaths of Mitzi Johnson-Nalley, 21, and Kelly Farquhar, 24.
Ross identified Nobles as the man who broke into the north Austin home Sept. 13, 1986 and began flailing away in a frenzy with a knife 5 1/2 inches long and nearly 2 inches wide.
At the time of the attack, Nobles was on parole about 4 months after serving less than 8 months of a 3-year prison term for theft in Collin County in suburban Dallas.
"I don't think I'm a terrible person today," Nobles said in a recent death row interview. "I don't think I'm the monster who perpetrated these terrible acts. Nothing I can do for a thousand years can relieve me of my responsibility.''
Nobles, a former electrician and telemarketer who quit school after the eighth grade, said he turned to drugs and alcohol as a reaction to beatings and abuse while growing up in a foster home. Witnesses at his trial described him as a frequent user of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol.
Ross, Ms. Nalley's boyfriend, testified he was awakened in the middle of the night by screams, ran into Ms. Farquhar's bedroom and saw Nobles stabbing Ms. Nalley. He fought with the attacker and was stabbed repeatedly, stumbled outside and collapsed in the street. The 2 women were killed but he was revived by emergency medical technicians.
Nobles, also wounded in the fight, left a blood trail away from the home. His fingerprint and a piece of his hair were found nearby. Nobles was arrested less than a week later, confessed to police and led officers to a trash bag where he had hid bloody evidence from the murder scene.
"It's not a pleasant thing watching someone die, no matter the circumstances," Paula Kurland, Ms. Nalley's mother, said after witnessing the execution. Ms. Nalley, stabbed 28 times, died on her 21st birthday.
"There's no such thing as closure," she said. "This is the beginning of a new chapter for us. The punishment was just. It doesn't mean we have to like it. We didn't get any pleasure."
Nobles converted to Catholicism while on death row and had a Catholic bishop, Edmond Carmody of Tyler, as 1 of the 5 witnesses he selected to watch him die. Country singer-songwriter Steve Earle also accepted Nobles' invitation to witness the death and blasted the death penalty in a brief statement afterward.
"I'm not here for any other reason except Jonathan asked me to be here today,'' Earle said. "But I still believe that what I just witnessed was murder although nobody in this prison is any more responsible than anybody else in the state of Texas or the country for that matter."
Nobles said he was prepared to die for what he did but also wanted to do something positive so he tried to have his organs harvested and donated.
While the Texas Department of Criminal Justice allows inmates to donate organs, it does not extend that policy to death row prisoners.
5 years ago, Nobles disclosed he had been corresponding with Kevorkian, the Michigan doctor who has helped people commit suicide, to try to arrange the donation of a kidney and found a surgeon to perform the transplant and a patient willing accept it. Nobles and the woman were not a blood-type match, however, and she died without getting a transplant.
Nobles becomes the 16th condemned prisoner to be put to death in Texas this year, and the 160th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on Dec. 7, 1982. Texas executed a record 37 men last year.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
 

    Jeremy Sagastegui, 27, 98-10-13, Washington

In Walla Walla, a man who killed three people, including a 3-year-old boy he was baby-sitting, was executed by injection early Tuesday.
Jeremy Sagastegui, 27, died hours after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a stay of execution issued Sunday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
On Nov. 19, 1995, Sagastegui beat, raped, stabbed and drowned Keivan Sarbacher, whom he was baby-sitting at a friend's home in Finley, a small town in south-central Washington. Sagastegui then shot and killed Keivan's mother, Melissa Sarbacher, 21, and her friend Lisa Vera-Acevado, 26, when they arrived home.
He later asked a jury to give him the death penalty, saying: "I killed the kid, I killed the mother and I killed her friend. And if their friends had come over, I would've killed them, too."
Sagastegui had asked that no appeals be filed on his behalf, raising questions about his competency.
On Sunday, a panel of the 9th Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, ruled that evidence presented by Sagastegui's mother warranted additional hearings. Katie Vargas contended her son was sexually abused as a child and mentally ill.
Sagastegui said nothing as he lay strapped to a gurney in the execution chamber.
"Inmate Sagastegui has no last words. The process will continue," prison Superintendent John Lambert said shortly before the execution.
Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller, one of the witnesses, said Sagastegui "never showed any compassion, any remorse."
Carl Sonderman, a laawyer for Sagastegui, agreed."We all recognize Jeremyt was a sociopath," he said.
Sagastegui becomes the 1st condemned prisoner to be executed in Washington this year, and the 3rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1993. The other executions were by hanging.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)
 

    Dwight Allen Wright, 26, 98-10-14, Virginia

In Jarratt, Dwight Allen Wright, convicted of killing an Ethiopian immigrant when he was a teenager, was executed Wednesday night, becoming the 1st Virginian in 74 years to be put to death for a crime committed as a juvenile.
Wright was executed by injection at the Greensville Correctional Center a few hours after Gov. Jim Gilmore denied his request for clemency and the U.S. Supreme Court, on a 7-2 vote, rejected a final appeal. Wright was pronounced dead at 9:15 p.m.
In announcing his decision, Gilmore noted that Wright had fashioned a homemade knife while in prison and hid it in his cell, and had attacked other prisoners.
"There has never been any question at to Wright's guilt," the governor said. "He admitted to the murder. The convictions and death sentence have been upheld throughout numerous appeals."
Defense attorneys had argued that Wright suffered brain damage as a child and is borderline retarded. They released notarized affidavits Sunday from 2 jurors saying they did not know Wright was brain damaged, and that they would not have sentenced him to death had they known.
But Gilmore said that 3 mental health experts who examined Wright after his arrest determined that he "did not suffer from mental retardation or significant brain damage."
Earlier Wednesday, Wright visited with his mother and 2 brothers.
Wright, 26, was 17 when he killed Saba Tekle outside her Annandale apartment. He had killed 2 other people earlier in the week.
Fairfax County police say Wright told them he spotted Ms. Tekle on the road, decided to rape her, pointed a gun at her and forced her to undress. She began to do so, then fled screaming toward her apartment. Wright shot her in the back with a .38-caliber pistol.
Wright's age at the time of the killing prompted Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Bar Association, Harvard law professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr., the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., to protest the execution.
The last juvenile offender executed in Virginia was Fritz Lewis in 1924, said Larry Traylor, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections. Lewis died in the electric chair for a murder in Caroline County.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Wright's execution was the 12th in the United States of juvenile offenders since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. 7 of those have been in Texas.
Wright becomes the 10th condemned prisoner to be executed in Virginia this year, and the 56th overall since the state resumed executions in 1982.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)


When morning breaks in Jarratt, the execution capital of the East Coast, barely a word is spoken about the fatal goings-on the night before.
Just 2 miles south of the small downtown, in the death house at Greensville Correctional Center, the Commonwealth of Virginia strapped Dwight Allen Wright, 26, to a table and pumped poison into his veins Wednesday night as final punishment for a murder 9 years and 1 day earlier.
It was Virginia's 10th execution this year, and the state's 1st since 1924 for crimes committed while the killer was a juvenile. Neither that distinction nor pleas that Wright should be spared because he was brain-damaged and had a miserable childhood stirred the folks in Jarratt. People here focus as little as possible on what has become the town's gruesome public face.
No state but Texas executes more criminals than does Virginia. And all 44 Virginia executions since 1991 have been in Jarratt, 25 miles north of the North Carolina border on Interstate 95.
Repetition has made the executions routine. Few here question the need for the death penalty, though blacks are more likely to have reservations than whites, perhaps because of the perception that blacks are more often sentenced to death.
Longtime residents can remember the days when Jarratt -- a town of modest one-story homes ringed by peanut and cotton fields -- was best known for a booming restaurant and motel on U.S. 301, midway between New York and Florida. But now, with I-95 taking nearly all the traffic, the old restaurant is boarded up, overgrown with weeds.
"It was much nicer to be known as a place for good eating rather than a place for executions," said Mayor Alton F. Owen Sr. "Of course, that has to be done somewhere."
Such sentiments are common here. People talk of friends catching news reports about executions in Jarratt while traveling continents away. Some joke that the lights flicker on nights -- now rare -- when the prison fires up the electric chair.
The town of Jarratt -- incorporated in 1938, the year after a major paper mill moved here -- is a predominantly white enclave in a heavily African American area that lags behind the state in most economic measures. The town, which sits on the border of Greensville and Sussex counties, has about 600 residents, but hundreds more live on the outskirts.
All of its elected officials are white, as are nearly all of its business owners. Within the town limits, one square mile, there is little debate on the merits of executions.
"They don't seem to care much about it," disabled trucker Sanford Moore Jr., 56, said of the town's attitude. As for those condemned, Moore said that townsfolk believe, "If you've done it, you've done it."
Few whites from town work at the prison, which employs about 900 people and has an annual payroll of about $22 million. Most of those jobs go to African Americans from throughout the region. Blacks in the Jarratt area are more likely than whites to oppose the death penalty.
"I'm against it. You can leave them locked up for the rest of their lives instead of just killing them," said Greg Givens, 38, who has worked for 13 years at another area prison. "If I worked there and had to push the button, I'd choose not to. You're taking somebody's life."
It was Dwayne Allen Wright's turn Wednesday night. Like most of those condemned to die in recent years, he chose injection instead of the electric chair. He had spent the previous several days in a holding cell in the death house, a drab, cinder-block building at Greensville. On the final day, he met with his mother, 2 brothers and an aunt.
The execution is a regimented drama, with prison officials, witnesses and sometimes the victim's family watching in separate rooms. The action is centered on a table, covered in a white sheet.
For Wright's execution, Corrections Director Ronald J. Angelone stood on one side of the room, his ear to a red phone connected to the office of Gov. James S. Gilmore III in case of a last-minute reprieve. 3 prison officials in suits stood nearby, as did a delegation of prison officials from New York State, observing.
Wright lumbered in, surrounded by 8 guards, shortly after 9 p.m. Without any apparent resistance, he climbed onto the table and lay peacefully as the guards pulled leather straps tight across both wrists, both ankles, his upper legs and chest. Then they pulled shut a dark-blue curtain to block the view of witnesses for several minutes.
When it opened, Wright had an intravenous line in his right forearm and a heart monitor running to his chest. A harmless saline solution flowed into his veins. An official asked Wright if he had a final statement.
In a mumble that was barely audible over a speaker in the witness room, Wright replied, "My attorney has my statement." His lawyer said later that the message was private and intended for Wright's family.
The IV line then wiggled a bit, a sign that one of the medical technicians behind a 2nd curtain had inserted the 1st of 3 syringes -- bringing a chemical that induces unconsciousness -- into the line.
At the 2nd wiggle, a chemical to stop Wright's breathing headed for his veins. His chest and stomach heaved deeply, again, again, again, again.
Then it stopped. A 3rd wiggle from the intravenous tube brought the final dose in the lethal cocktail, a chemical to stop his heart. Several minutes later, after a doctor watching a heart monitor gave the signal, Wright was declared dead.
It was 9:15 p.m. The curtain closed. Guards escorted the witnesses out to white government vans, which took them to the public parking lot in front of the prison, where reporters gathered and television trucks aimed their satellite dishes into the clear autumn sky.
The next morning in Jarratt, there was plenty of conversation at Hoagy's Market, the coin laundry and the post office. Almost none of it was about Wright's death.
"Life," said Jarratt Postmaster Roger Groome, "goes on."
(source: Washington Post)
 

    Ronald Lee Fitzgerald, 29, 98-10-21, Virginia

In Jarratt, a man convicted of killing a friend and a taxi driver during a 1-day crime spree that also included 2 abductions and 2 rapes was executed Wednesday night.
Ronald Lee Fitzgerald, 29, was put to death by injection at the Greensville Correctional Center. He was pronounced dead at 9:08 p.m.
Fitzgerald, speaking softly, gave a lengthy final statement, telling his family he loved them, saying he was sorry for the killings and asking for forgiveness from the families of the victims.
"I hope that by my dying tonight, this will ease their pain," he said.
Larry Taylor, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said some relatives of Fitzgeralds victims were present for the execution. He would not say how many or identify them.
5 death penalty opponents waited outside the prison with candles as the execution hour approached.
Fitzgerald, who claimed to have a tattoo on his chest reading "lethal injection" and "die" with a drawing of a syringe, had declined to seek clemency from Governor Jim Gilmore.
Fitzgeralds lawyer, David J. Damico, said his client did not petition the governor for clemency because he knew the killings were wrong. Damico said Fitzgerald also decided against seeking clemency because he knew Gilmore had not granted it in any of the 10 executions since taking office in January.
On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected an emergency request to postpone the execution and a new appeal.
Fitzgerald was convicted of capital murder in the Jan. 29, 1993, slayings and robberies of acquaintance Coy M. White and a taxi driver, Hugh E. Morrison.
Fitzgerald also was convicted of abducting and raping a 13-year-old girl on the same day at White's Chatham home and an 18-year-old woman in an Altavista motel room's bathroom while her children watched television.
Fitzgerald had been waiting outside the home of White, the uncle of Fitzgerald's girlfriend. When White left, Fitzgerald entered the house and told a 13-year-old girl to take off her clothes. She refused, so he started removing them.
White returned home and Fitzgerald ordered him on the floor at gunpoint, then shot him in the neck. Fitzgerald then forced the girl to go through White's pockets to retrieve his wallet and keys, and drove her to a rural location, raped her and locked her in the trunk of the car.
Fitzgerald then flagged down Morrison's taxi cab. Morrison's body was discovered in a creek. He had been shot 3 times.
Fitzgerald drove the cab to the home of the 18-year-old girlfriend of a friend, took her and her children to a motel room and raped her.
Afterward, Fitzgerald asked a couple for a ride to the county courthouse. At the courthouse, Fitzgerald stuck a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. The gun jammed and police took him into custody
Fitzgerald becomes the 11th condemned inmate to be put to death in Virginia this year and the 57th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982.
(sources: Associated Press and Rick Halperin)