Thursday, April 25, 2002

William Burns

The Skinny...On March 28, 1981, William Kendrick Burns, his brother Victor, and Danny Ray Harris were accused by Texarkana authorities of murdering high school senior Johnny Lynn Hamlett as he worked the late shift in an East Texas creosote plant. Hamlett, 18, was found dead in the plant's boiler room with 14 gunshot wounds to his neck, chest and head. A total of $110 was stolen from Hamlett.

Bowie County authorities soon became suspicious of Burns after receiving a tip that he was involved in the crime. Burns eventually led police to a coffee can lying along a deserted county road. Inside the can was a drivers license, social security card and school identification card belonging to Hamlett. Also found inside the can was a highway patrol citation issued to Burns.

Last words..."I just want to tell my Mom that I am sorry that I caused her so much pain and my family and stuff," William Kendrick Burns said. "I love them and I hurt for the fact that they are going to be hurting. I really hate that and that I am hoping they are going to be OK."

Misc...After being convicted of the crime later that year and sentenced to death, Burns spent the next 21 years avoiding execution through his attorney's skillful maneuvering of the justice system.

OH, NO...At noon Thursday, Burns left his Polunsky Unit death row cell and was transported to the Huntsville "Walls" Unit. He was then placed in a holding cell, steps away from the death chamber.

A short time later, after refusing a last meal, the condemned man was led to the stainless steel gurney and strapped down.

AND ONE MORE THIiiinnngg...After making what was thought to be his final statement, Burns requested one last chance to speak. As he began, however, the lethal drugs took hold and he fell silent.

FACTOIDS....Burns became the eighth offender from the Texas prison system to be executed this year and the second of four offenders scheduled this month.