Thursday, July 20, 2006

July 12, 2006

...the couple had just married two years earlier while Barton was in prison for the attempted murder of his ex-wife in Kentucky...

Last Meal: Barton requested a “special meal” of pork chops, gravy, hash browns, biscuits, fried eggs over easy, cherry pie and Pepsi. Barton ate all of his specially-requested meal, except for the cherry pie which he saved for breakfast. Barton awoke at 4:47 a.m., showered, got dressed and ate a regular prison breakfast of two hard boiled eggs, Cream of Wheat, grapefruit, toast and orange juice...and the pie.

The skinny: Barton was executed for fatally shooting his wife because she wanted to leave him.

More skinny: Barton murdered his fourth wife at their home in Waynesville after they had gotten in a domestic dispute that morning. He called and threatened her several times the day of the killing before persuading her to come to the house to get her belongings. When she arrived, he appeared and shot her once in the shoulder and then again in the back at close range. His uncle and the woman's 17-year old daughter witnessed the shooting.

He then turned the gun on himself, blowing out most of his teeth and requiring four surgeries to insert pins, wires and screws to hold his eyes in their sockets and the cadaver’s jaw to replace his shattered one.

Barton has a history of arrests for burglary, assault, drug and DUI charges and violence against women. He beat one of his ex-wives with a shotgun, stabbed her three times, cut her throat and left her for dead, but she survived. The victim had known Barton for many years, but the couple had just married two years earlier while Barton was in prison for the attempted murder of his ex-wife in Kentucky.

Last words and such: Barton, 49, said he deserved execution and gave up his appeals that could have delayed his sentence for years.

"I’m sorry for what I done. I’m sorry for killing your mama. I’m not asking you to forgive me. Not a day goes by that I’m not trying to forgive myself. Don't let your anger and hate for me destroy your lives."
He also apologized to his parents for the "embarrassment and shame" brought on the family, then stated, "As Gary Gilmore said, ‘Let’s do it.’ "

Gilmore, who was convicted in Utah of shooting two people, said the same thing before he became the first person put to death after a 1976 Supreme Court ruling that the death penalty was legal. He was executed Jan. 17, 1977, by firing squad.

The Process...It was a successful first test of lethal injection guidelines adopted after the last execution was plagued with problems. Two injection sites were established on Rocky Barton -- one as a backup in case something went wrong with a vein -- and the whole process went smoothly, prisons Director Terry Collins said.

The state's lethal injection protocol was changed after Joseph Clark's execution in May, which was held up 90 minutes when prison staff struggled to find a useable vein and one they used collapsed. The state now requires staff to make every effort to find two injection sites and use a low-pressure saline drip to make sure the veins stay open once entryways are inserted. The execution team appeared more relaxed and less hurried after the new guidelines advised staff against feeling pressured to follow what had become an artificial, self-imposed timeframe to complete an execution quickly, Collins said. "I think that was the biggest thing," Collins said. "I noticed a different relaxation." Barton also was examined closely for any medical problems a day before his execution and again on Wednesday morning.

Factoids: Barton was the....

27th murderer executed in U.S. in 2006
1031st murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
3rd murderer executed in Ohio in 2006
22nd murderer executed in Ohio since 1976

July 11, 2006

...another bad one....

Last Meal: O'Brien had no final meal request.

The skinny: O'Brien was executed for the torture, rape and strangling of two teenage Houston girls 13 years ago.

More skinny: O'Brien was one of six members of a fledgling street gang drinking beer after initiating a new gang member. The two victims were walking home from a friend's house, taking a shortcut along some railroad tracks when they stumbled upon the group.

Evidence showed the girls were gang raped for more than an hour, then were kicked and beaten before being strangled. A red nylon belt was pulled so tight around one girl's neck that the belt snapped. The belt was later recovered from O'Brien's home. The bodies of the two teenage girls were found four days after they failed to return from a friend's house. When the bodies were discovered, they were decomposing and mummifying in 100-degree heat.

A smiling O'Brien, then 18, was seen on a videotape of the crowd that gathered as investigators worked the scene of the grisly discovery. A tip from the brother of one of the gang members led police to the arrests in the killings that shocked even crime-hardened Houston.

O'Brien, who confessed to police, was one of six gang members convicted in the case and the first to be executed. The ninth-grade dropout, who had previous arrests for shoplifting a pistol, assault and auto theft, also was a suspect in a murder six months before the girls were killed but never was charged.

Two of the gang members, Efrain Perez and Raul Villarreal, had their death sentences commuted to life in prison when the Supreme Court last year barred executions for those who were 17 at the time of their crimes. Peter Cantu, described by authorities as ringleader of the gang, remains on death row without an execution date. Jose Medellin, who was condemned and who O'Brien said was at one end of the belt being pulled around the girl's neck as he yanked on the other, had his case returned to the state courts under an order from President Bush. Medellin is among some 50 Mexican-born offenders who argue that under international law they should have been allowed assistance from the Mexican Consulate before trial. A sixth person convicted, Medellin's brother, Vernancio, was 14 at the time and received a 40-year prison term.

Last words and such: "I am sorry. I have always been sorry," O'Brien said, holding his head up and looking straight at relatives of his victims. "It is the worst mistake that I ever made in my whole life. Not because I am here but because of what I did and I hurt a lot of people, you and my family." He repeated again and again that he was sorry.

Factoids: O'Brien was the...

26th murderer executed in U.S. in 2006
1030th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
14th murderer executed in Texas in 2006
369th murderer executed in Texas since 1976