Wednesday, October 24, 2007

August 22, 2007


Last Meal: Conner had no final meal request.

The skinny:Conner, 32, who was executed for the shooting death of a convenience store owner in Houston.

More skinny:Conner entered a north Houston grocery store and brought a drink to the counter, as if to buy it. The store owner was behind the counter, which was enclosed with bulletproof glass, but had a small opening used to pass items to and from customers. HConner then pointed a .32-caliber revolver at store owner.

About that time, Julian Gutierrez walked into the store to pay for gasoline and heard someone say, “Give me all your money,” then saw Conner pointing a gun at the woman’s chest. Gutierrez ran out of the store as the man fired at him, wounding him.

Conner then fired two shots at owner, striking her in the head and killing her. Conner fled the scene without any money. Eyewitnesses identified Conner as he fled from the scene. Conner's fingerprint also was found on a bottle at the shooting scene.

Conner, a Shreveport, La., native, had a history of assaults and drug offenses starting at age 12.

Leading up to: Conner declined to speak with reporters the week preceding his execution. On an anti-death-penalty web site, he called his conviction an "atrocious act of barbarity against the law and mankind."

Last words and such:Conner had asked the warden for permission to speak longer than the usual alloted two to three minutes, specifically wanting to talk to his victim's daughter, and spoke slowly and with emotion. "Shed no tears for me. When I get to the gates of heaven, I'm going to be waiting for you. I will open my arms for you. What's happening now, you are suffering. I didn't mean to hurt y'all.... This is destiny. This is life. This is something I have to do." He ended by saying what was happening to him was "unjust and the system is broken. To Allah I belong and to Allah I return."

Factoids: Conner was the...

35th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1092nd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
21st murderer executed in Texas in 2007
400th murderer executed in Texas since 1976

The 400-execution milepost prompted an outcry from death penalty opponents. Only a handful of protesters, however, gathered down the street from the prison entrance Wednesday evening.

Conner's execution in Huntsville, located north of Houston, has drawn sharp criticism from death penalty opponents who argue that the practice is inhumane and does not serve as a deterrent to crime. "It's a pretty sad day for the progression -- or lack thereof -- for human rights in this state," said Rick Halperin, president of the non-profit Texas Coalition To Abolish the Death Penalty. He called the state-ordered executions "barbaric and outdated."

On Tuesday, the European Union urged the governor of Texas to halt all executions before the state carried out Conner's death sentence. A spokesman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry responded in a statement: "Texans long ago decided that the death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for the most horrible crimes committed against our citizens."

In the United States, 38 states have the death penalty, but the overall number of executions carried out by Texas is more than four times that of any other state.