Tuesday, September 26, 2006

August 18, 2006

Last Meal: Flippen had a final meal request of popcorn shrimp, hush puppies, french fries and a Coke.

The skinny: Flippen, 36, was executed for the beating death of his 2-year-old stepdaughter.

More skinny: Flippen lived with his wife, and her two-year-old daughter. When the wife left for work, Flippen and the little girl were alone. A call was placed to 911 by Flippen approximately 50 minutes later. Flippen stated that the child likely had fallen out of her chair and was having trouble breathing.

When EMS arrived they found the girl gasping for breath and nearly blue from lack of oxygen. She was pronounced dead nearly 30 minutes later. An autopsy revealed that she died from a fatal blow or blows to the abdomen that cut her pancreas in half against her spine and tore her liver. The injuries she sustained did not indicate a fall, but rather a homicide. It is believed that Flippen started beating his stepdaughter because she would not stop crying. Flippen never publicly admitted to the killing.

After finding Flippen guilty, the jury recommended a death sentence. The state Supreme Court overturned that sentence and ordered a second jury to consider Flippen's lack of previous criminal convictions. In 1997, the second jury also recommended a death sentence.

Legal Machinations: Hours earlier, a flurry of last-minute court fights ended when state judges and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected arguments to stop the execution. Flippen's request that his execution be delayed unless 45 family members can witness the event was denied. Gov. Mike Easley declined to grant clemency. A former prosecutor and attorney general, Easley has granted clemency only twice during his two terms in office.

Last words and such: Flippen did not make a final statement. He locked eyes with his parents, smiled and mouthed "I love you."

The victim's mother witnessed her former husband's execution. She said in a written statement that there was no such thing as closure but she would try to move on.

Factoids: Flippen was the...

37th murderer executed in U.S. in 2006
1041st murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
4th murderer executed in North Carolina in 2006
43rd murderer executed in North Carolina since 1976

The execution brought out Flippen's family and friends, who stood on one side of the street outside Central Prison with death penalty opponents, and relatives of the victim, who stood on the other side. The two groups did not exchange words. "We came tonight to make sure that everyone knows (the girl) is the victim here. Sammy chose to do what he did," Ben Streett, the girl's uncle, said as he stood on a street corner blocked by about a dozen prison guards. "He took from our family a precious, precious child."

Four death penalty opponents were arrested for crossing a police line onto prison property.

There are now 168 people on the state's death row.

AUGUST 17, 2006

...Big Red! We love Big Red!...

Last Meal: Hinojosa has a final meal request of a chef salad with ranch dressing, 12 pieces of fried chicken, five jalapeno nachos with chili cheese, four fried eggs over easy, French fries, onion rings, six Cokes, 6 Big Reds, and ketchup.

The skinny: Hinojosa was executed for the abduction, rape and fatal stabbing of a woman more than 12 years ago.

More skinny: Hinojosa broke into the home of his next-door neighbor after cutting her telephone wires. Once inside, he was confronted by the woman and engaged in a violent struggle. Eventually, he forced the woman into her vehicle and took her to a secluded area known for illegal trash dumping. Once there, Hinojosa raped her and fatally stabbed her 11 times in the back and chest. Hinojosa dumped the nude body in a field and covered her with grass.

Hinojosa was linked to the crime through both fingerprint and DNA evidence. Hinjosa was previously convicted of manslaughter in 1986 and released after serving 2 years.

DNA identified Hinojosa as the only one of nearly 20 million people who fit a profile of sperm taken from Wright. The former custodian at a club at San Antonio's old Brooks Air Force Base said his sex with the victim was consensual. The same argument was raised at his trial.

Last words and such: Thunder boomed, lightning crackled and rain pounded on the prison roof as Hinojosa expressed love for his family and asked his victim's family to find peace in their heart. "I am going to be free. I am going to heaven,'' Hinojosa said from the death chamber gurney. "I pray for you. Please find peace in your heart,'' he said looking at the parents, a brother and two aunts of his victim. "I know you may hate me for whatever reason. The Lord says hate no one. I hope you find peace in your heart. I know my words cannot help you. I truly mean what I say.''

He indicated to the prison warden that he had finished his statement, telling him, "Kick the tires and light the fire. I'm going home to see my son and my mom.'' He began chanting a prayer, repeatedly invoking Yahweh as the lethal drugs were being administered.

Eight minutes later he was pronounced dead.

Factoids: Hinojosa was the...

36th murderer executed in U.S. in 2006
1040th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
18th murderer executed in Texas in 2006
373rd murderer executed in Texas since 1976

Hinojosa's execution was the 18th this year in Texas — one short of last year's total.

Two more executions are scheduled for this month and at least six other inmates have dates through the remainder of the year. If all are carried out, the total still would fall well short of the record 40 executions in Texas in 2000.

Hinojosa said he was part Cherokee and Choctaw, and his American Indian ancestry earned him the nickname "Hawkeye" on death row.