Tuesday, May 06, 2003

May 6, 2003

Our second Psalms this week...first 144, now 103...

Last Meal: a double meat cheeseburger with everything, a baked potato, a salad, a Coke and butter pecan ice cream.

The Skinny: Vaughn was put to death for the 1991 slaying of a North Texas woman. Vaughn was being held on forgery and robbery charges in Lubbock when he fled the county jail in October of 1991. He was a trusty at the time. Two days later, the 66-year-old victim was raped and strangled at her home. When Vaughn escaped from the jail, he was by himself, outside, and unsupervised. "He was a trustee at the time, and he was out on the courthouse lawn raking leaves, when he decided to leave," says an investigator.

Rampage: Vaughn tracked down a friend, convinced him he had been paroled, then got the friend drunk, knocked him out and stole his truck and money. That friend was left mentally disabled, laying in a cottonfield near Idalou. He drove east to Electra, midway between Wichita Falls and Vernon, and tried to call victim's son, an acquaintance, to get some money. Instead, he reached the victim and made arrangements to stop by the next day. Vaughn said he visited the victim, then left.

Point/Counterpoint: "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. "I didn't know the woman died."

Alibi: Vaughn 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."

Evidence: "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."

Last Words and such: Prison officials say Vaughn smiled, laughed, and mouthed to relatives that he loved them, but made no final statement. Instead Vaughn asked a prison chaplain to read Psalm 103 (see below), 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.

Factoid: This was the 14th execution in Texas this year. He was the 303rd inmate executed by Texas since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982.

Psalms 103

103:1 [A Psalm] of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, [bless] his holy name.

103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

103:3 Who forgiveth all thy iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;

103:4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies;

103:5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good [things]; [so that] thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

103:6 The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

103:7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the children of Israel.

103:8 The LORD [is] merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in mercy.

103:9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep [his anger] for ever.

103:10 He hath not dealt with us according to our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

103:11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, [so] great is his mercy towards them that fear him.

103:12 As far as the east is from the west, [so] far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

103:13 Like as a father pitieth [his] children, [so] the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

103:14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we [are] dust.

103:15 [As for] man, his days [are] as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.

103:16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and its place shall know it no more.

103:17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness to
children's children;

103:18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

103:19 The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.

103:20 Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word.

103:21 Bless ye the LORD, all [ye] his hosts; [ye] ministers of his, that do his pleasure.

103:22 Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.