Tuesday, February 04, 2003

February 4, 2003

Tea for Texan...

Last Meal: A cup of tea and chocolate chip cookies

The skinny: Elliott, a British national, was executed for rape and murder despite high-level British government efforts to stall his execution. Elliott was listed as Hispanic in Texas prison records. Elliott was born in Britain, where his father was a U.S. airman. A thrice-convicted felon, he has said he moved to the United States with his family six months after he was born.

International machinations: British Members of Parliament, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and high-ranking clerics took up his cause in hopes of persuading Texas Gov. Rick Perry to halt the execution. Perry cannot commute a sentence without a vote to do so from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. The board, by an 18-0 vote, on Tuesday denied motions recommending that Perry issue a reprieve, commutation or conditional pardon.

Evidence & Priors: Police found Elliott with his shorts and shoes covered with blood that matched the victims. At the time, he was on parole from a 1982 conviction for killing a man during a bar fight. 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 eight-year sentence for murder, then received probation for the burglary.

Final words and such: Elliott, his long hair and goatee flecked with streaks of white, said as he lay strapped to a gurney in the pale green death chamber that he had no final statement. He turned briefly to the observation room where his son, sister and other personal witnesses were watching and mouthed a message to them.

A mother's words: The victim's mother told reporters later that Elliott's death had been "too easy" for him, compared with the beating her daughter suffered. "The people who are against the death penalty, good for them...but... they have never walked in our shoes." She said Elliott had committed the crime in Texas, not Britain. "So what if they don't believe in the death penalty. We want justice. That's what it was."

Reborn John Bull: In a recent interview, Elliott spoke of his affinity for Britain: "I have looked up where I was born on a map, and I am proud of it. I wish I had lived in Britain -- that country has cared about me in a way I never knew here."

Factoids: Elliott is the third Briton executed in the U.S. in the modern era of capital punishment. Georgia executed two British citizens in 2002 and in 1995.

Since 1982, when the state resumed carrying out the death penalty after a four-year national ban in the 1970s, Texas has killed 296 people.

The United States is the only Western democracy that still carries out executions.