Saturday, June 16, 2007

May 23, 2007

...they stole a number of his belongings, as well as his dog....

Last Meal: Comer had a final meal request of fried okra, four buns with lots of butter, lots of salt and two slices of banana bread.

The skinny: Comer was executed for the killing of a Florida man at a campsite at Apache Lake.

He was also serving 339 years for rape and kidnapping.

His execution came after he waived his rights to further appeal.

More skinny: Comer and his girlfriend, Juneva Willis, were at a campground near Apache Lake. They invited the victim, who was at the campsite next to theirs, to have dinner and drinks with them. Around 9:00 p.m., Comer shot the man in the head, and later stabbed him in the neck.

Comer then removed an Emergency Medical Technician badge from the man’s pocket and hid the body by covering it with wood. After the murder, Comer and Willis drove to dead man’s campsite, where they stole a number of his belongings, as well as his dog.

Comer and Willis then proceeded to the campsite of a couple, where they posed as “Arizona Drug Enforcement” officers, and ordered them out of their tent at gunpoint. Comer flashed the EMT badge and then tied the two up with wire and duct tape, then put them in their truck and stole several items from their tent.

Comer then drove the truck while Willis followed behind in his. After a short time, Willis stopped following Comer. When the woman asked to relieve herself, Comer permitted her to do so but accompanied her into the woods and sexually assaulted her. He then sexually assaulted her again in front of the truck.

Comer threatened to kill the man but the woman convinced him not to do so. Comer instead left the man in the woods and drove off with woman. When the truck ran out of gas, Comer and the woman walked back to Willis, and the three of them then drove together, along with Willis’s two children. During this journey, Comer shot and killed Pritchard’s dog, and sexually abused the woman twice more.

The woman finally managed to escape while Comer was fixing his truck. She was later picked up by a passing motorist and taken to the sheriff’s home. . The man had managed to walk back to the Burnt Corral campground and had reported the incident to the Department of Public Safety.

The police quickly apprehended Comer and Willis.

Willis subsequently pled guilty to one count of kidnapping in exchange for agreeing to testify against Comer. The other charges against her were dropped.

The sentencing: Comer had to be subdued with a hose, beaten and dragged to his sentencing in 1988. When he was brought into the courtroom strapped to a wheelchair, he was bloodied, barely conscious and naked except for a towel on his lap. His extensive tattoos, including a swastika, were exposed and his shaggy hair and beard were wild.

Last words and such: This day is a welcome one for Comer, who has fought to be executed since 2000. Comer spent much of that time just proving he is competent to make that decision, saying he owes it to his victims, society and himself.

After being sentenced to death, Comer spent the next 13 years making knives and shanks, fighting with prisoners and guards and setting fires in his own cell. He was cited 43 times between 1988 and 2001 for such infractions. But since 2001, he hadn't been disciplined once. Guards, psychologists, lawyers and Comer himself say he matured, mellowed and become more thoughtful during his prison time, particularly after his best friend in prison, Robert Vickers, was executed in 1999.

Comer never flinched as he was injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs that put him to death. He took a picture of his daughter into the death chamber with him and seemed defiant as he smiled and maintained eye contact with his witnesses as drugs coursed through his body.

His last words were "Go Raiders!" and with that, his smile slowly faded until he passed out.

Factoids: Comer was the...

20th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1077th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Arizona in 2007
23rd murderer executed in Arizona since 1976

Protesters moved on to prison grounds earlier in the morning to voice their objections over the planned execution. However, the Arizona Department of Corrections officials made sure they could not be seen from the main road.

A group of 17 people from Pax Christi USA drove from Phoenix, formed a circle and prayed the Hail Mary. "You don't teach not killing by killing," Ruth Zemek said. Wearing a hat that said "let us not become the evil we despise, abolish the death penalty," Margaret Snider said: "I don't think it accomplishes anything. The crime has been committed. It doesn't make anything well." "Taking a person's life does not bring a person back," protester Dan Wolford said. "His taking a life doesn't justify taking his. He doesn't forfeit his right to live because he took someone else's life."

However, at least one man from East Valley drove to Florence to support Comer's execution. "This man can never do it again after 10. He can never kill again. They will be safe from this man," said George Williams, the lone pro-death penalty protester. He held a sign saying "Coomer will never murder or kill again"

Comer was the first inmate to be put to death in the state since Donald Miller was executed on Nov. 8, 2000, for helping murder an 18-year-old woman.

Friday, June 15, 2007

May 16, 2007

...sixteen, count 'em, sixteen Pepsi's...

Last meal: Smith had a final meal request of nine tacos, nine enchiladas, french fries, a salad with ranch dressing, beef fajitas, a bowl of picante sauce, a bowl of shredded cheese, six jalapeno peppers, a strawberry cake with strawberry frosting and 16 Pepsi's.

The skinny: Smith, 41, a Kansas prison escapee was executed for killing a sheriff's deputy who was trying to pull him over for stealing $22.50 worth of gasoline from a service station.

More skinny: The victim was a deputy sheriff, nine months shy of his retirement when he was sent out on a call that two men had stolen gas from a service station.

Around midnight, the officer attempted to pull over a van that matched the description of the vehicle. Unbeknownst to him, the stolen van carried two escapees from Kansas, Charles Edward Smith and his cousin Carroll Bernard Smith. The pair had escaped from a work-release center a week earlier, and had stolen the van along with a .357 magnum revolver in Houston and were headed for New Mexico.

As officer tried to pass the van on the left, Charles Smith fired three shots into the car. One of the shots struck the man in the side, killing him. Evidence showed the officer did nothing to provoke the shooting; his firearm was still snapped in place and he was simply attempting to determine who was in the van.

The shooting prompted an extensive manhunt across West Texas that ended with a police chase and shootout. The two escapees abandoned the van and stole a truck tractor. When they approached a roadblock, they made a U-turn and a chase ensued. The two men were captured.

Upon arrest, Smith gave a complete confession, including a statement that it has been his lifelong dream to kill a cop and that he felt like his life was complete now.

Jailers testified at his trial they remembered Smith for singing the 1970s Eric Clapton rock song "I Shot the Sheriff" and amending the words to say, "But in my case it was the deputy."

Three different juries convicted Smith of the murder and three times he was sentenced to death as a result of two reversals on appeal.

Smith's cousin agreed to a life prison term and remains behind bars.

At the time of the escape, Smith had approximately one month left to serve before he would have been eligible for parole.

A story about the victim: Mexia Police Detective Javier Ybarra attended the execution. The slain officer impacted his life as a teenager according to the victim's daugther. “When he was a teenager, my dad caught him breaking into a store in Fort Stockton. Instead of taking him in and putting him in juvenile detention, he gave him the talking to of his life and made him ride in the county car for two weeks. He told me if it hadn’t been for my dad, he might be in prison. This guy had a rough childhood, too, but he didn’t go out and kill cops, he became one.”

Last words and such: Smith did not make a final statement. The execution had been delayed slightly because of difficulty finding veins for the needles carrying the drugs.

Factoids: Smith was the...

19th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1076th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
14th murderer executed in Texas in 2007
393rd murderer executed in Texas since 1976

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

May 9, 2007

...Nashville's Union Rescue Mission received 170 pizzas....

Last Meal: Workman had no final meal request...for himself. He asked that a vegetarian pizza be purchased and donated to a homeless person for his last meal, but prison officials refused.

“He instructed that it be given to a homeless person but we’re not able to do that," a prison spokeswoman said. Instead, Workman decided to skip dinner on the eve of his execution. "He could have had food from the cafeteria that the other inmates were having tonight."

News accounts of his request touched a nerve with the public.

Nashville's Union Rescue Mission received 170 pizzas. Media reports said listeners to a radio station in Minnesota also ordered pizzas sent to another organization for troubled youngsters.

Dorinda Carter, spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Correction, said, "Taxes are to be spent on specific things for the care of the inmates." But she acknowledged there was no regulation against carrying out Workman's request.

An official at the mission said "the pizzas were enjoyed greatly by our clientele."

The skinny: Workman, 53, was executed for the murder of a Memphis police officer in 1981.

More skinny: A Memphis police lieutenant responded to a holdup alarm at a Wendy's restaurant. He approached Workman as he was leaving the restaurant after the robbery. Workman broke away from the officer, who ordered him to stop. The victim and Officer Aubrey Stoddard then grabbed Workman, who broke free again, shot the man once in the chest and Stoddard in the arm. Workman was found hiding in bushes nearby with the .45 caliber murder weapon.

Workman admitted during his trial that he fired the shot that killed the lieutenant. Workman was shot himself, said he had been using cocaine that day and that he did not intend to kill the man. The robbery netted about $1,170.

Appeals: Since receiving the death penalty, Workman has argued, with some scientific support, that the man could have been shot by another policeman during the shootout.

Most in law enforcement and most courts have responded, "So what!"

Leading up to: Workman spent his final hours talking on the telephone, reading the Bible and visiting with a spiritual adviser.

Last words and such: Workman has previously been on "death watch" three times and has come within hours of execution before being granted stays.

Workman's arms, legs and midsection were strapped to the gurney. He wore white prison pants and a cream prison top.

“I've prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ not to lay charge of my death to any man." About two minutes later, with his eyes closed as he gulped, somewhat nervously, Workman uttered a final statement: “I commend my spirit into your hands Lord Jesus Christ.”

Factoids: Workman was the...

18th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1075th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Tennesee in 2007
3rd murderer executed in Tennesee since 1976

Workman asked the U.S. District Court in Nashville to release his body to his brother immediately after his death and not allow an autopsy to be performed. Judge Campbell later issued a temporary injunction ordering the state not to autopsy Workman’s body at least until a hearing can be held. It will be up to his family to give him a burial.

Outside the prison, about 60 anti-death penalty protestors gathered for a vigil. As the time for a reprieve grew short, some of the protestors said they had lost hope that his life would be spared. The group was singing and holding hands in a circle while standing in a fenced-off grass field.

Workman had been on death row for 25 years.

May 5, 2007

...Woods' pet cat – a recent allowance for death-row inmates – was willed to a family member and had been taken from the prison Thursday afternoon....

Last Meal: Woods shared a last meal of birthday cake and pizza with his family Wednesday.

Prison officials had him on a liquid diet Thursday.

The skinny: Woods, 42, was executed for the murder of a 77-year-old man during a 1984 burglary.

More skinny: Woods, Greg Sloan, and Pat Sweet went to the home of the victim to steal a television.

Woods was armed with a knife. Sweet stayed in the yard, while Woods and Sloan rang the doorbell. When the man answered, Woods immediately jumped in and stabbed him with the knife. When he fell back and asked for help, Woods then stabbed him again repeatedly (21 times)and took $130 from the man's wallet. Woods and Sloan then carried out the television, hid it, and later sold it for $20. They washed their clothes and threw the knife in the creek.

When police arrived the next morning in response to a call of a man needing help, Woods was on the porch of the man’s apartment complex crying and saying that he had gone there to use the telephone and found the body. While questioning Woods, his mother came to the scene and told police that she thought her son was involved in the murder. She consented to a search of her residence, which revealed a knife sheath and a stained towel.

Woods was taken to the station and while preparations were being made for a polygraph, Woods broke down and gave a complete confession.

Sloan testified at trial after entering a guilty plea to aiding in murder.

Last words and such: "I want Juan's family to know I truly am sorry, and I do have remorse. I want everybody to know that I do have peace, and it’s through Jesus Christ that I have this peace."

The victim’s family was the first to view an execution since Indiana changed its law last year giving relatives of murder victims the right to watch executions.

Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, said he proposed the change after meeting with the prison warden and discovering victims’ families had to get permission from the person being put to death if they wanted to watch the execution. “The person being executed already has caused these people harm. Obviously, they’ve lost a loved one in some way, and they have to ask his permission if they feel they want to watch?” Wyss said. “It just seemed like the state was giving them another slam.”

A prison spokesman aid he could recall only one execution where a victim’s family member watched. That was two years ago when Kevin A. Conner allowed relatives of three men he killed in Indianapolis to witness his death.

The man's granddaughter, who was 20 when he was killed, is not eligible to watch the execution. Only spouses, parents, siblings, children and grandparents can view an execution, and all must be at least 18 years old.

A maximum of eight people are allowed.

Factoids: Woods was the...

17th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1074th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Indiana in 2007
18th murderer executed in Indiana since 1976

Woods' pet cat – a recent allowance for death-row inmates – was willed to a family member and had been taken from the prison Thursday afternoon.

Woods was the first Indiana inmate put to death since January 2006.

Three of Woods' family members were among about 25 people who protested against the death penalty Thursday night outside the prison.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

May 3, 2007

..."If we had a guillotine or gallows we would have a lot less crying"...

Last Meal: Jones, 55, had a final meal request of black-eyed peas, pepper steak and an orange-flavored drink. Earlier in the day he had a cheeseburger and a Pepsi from a prison vending machine.

The skinny: Jones was executed for the 1978 double murder of a couple on their farm.

More skinny: Jones and accomplish Arthur Lee Giles were convicted for the Nov. 10, 1978, attack in which the couple were shot and stabbed to death in the pre-dawn hours.

Three children, ages 10, 13 and 21, were critically wounded, but survived. The children's 85-year-old grandmother also survived.

Giles had worked for the man picking vegetables and hauling watermelons to a farmers market. Jones and Giles had been drinking beer and rum the night of the murders, and entered the man's home intending to rob him.

The oldest of the children, who was 21 at the time, testified that he was awakened just after 3 a.m. when Giles turned on the light in the bedroom the man shared with his 10-year-old brother. The father confronted Giles and told him to leave.

Minutes later the oldest son found Giles at the house's back door, and Giles shot him twice. Jones and Giles then made their way through the house, shooting and stabbing its occupants. After a wounded son got to his feet and made his way to his parents' bedroom, he found his brother and sister, stabbed, shot and bloody, but alive at the foot of their parents' bed.

In a confession, Jones admitted that he and Giles, after drinking rum and beer, went to the home to rob the family, although they never found any money.

Jones and Giles were tried separately, both receiving a death sentence. Giles, remains on Death Row at Holman Correctional Facility.

Justice delayed is justice...etc...: While the jury took just an hour and 45 minutes to declare him guilty, Jones had been on Death Row for 27 years.

The day of: In the hours before his execution he was visited by his two sisters and his brother. The brother and a representative of Kairos Prison Ministries witnessed the execution.

Jones left all of his belongings, including a Magnavox television, Timex watch, Sony radio and headphones, tobacco, a Bible and a check for $130.85, to another brother.

Last words and such: Jones had no final words and fixed his eyes on the ceiling of the execution chamber. The prison chaplain kneeled to pray, and placed his hand on the inmate's left hand.

In the witness room separated by a glass window, the four adult children of the slain victims watched silently. "I feel like they ought to have got the electric chair," said Larry Nelson, one of the children. "If we had a guillotine or gallows we would have a lot less crying. I hope and pray things will get better."

Factoids: Jones was the...

16th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1073rd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Alabama in 2007
36th murderer executed in Alabama since 1976

Jones had been the third-longest-serving inmate on Alabama's Death Row.

Only 2 out of the 199 inmates on death row have been there longer, according to Department of Corrections records.

April 26, 2007

...The robbery netted $52 in cash and an undetermined amount of beer...

Last Meal: Dickson, 30, had a final meal request of fried chicken, fried eggs, french fries with white gravy, apple pie with ice cream, a pork chop, five biscuits, chili with jalapenos and cheese, lemonade and five containers of milks.

The skinny: Dickson, street gang member, was executed for the murders of an Amarillo couple during a botched beer theft at their grocery store.

More skinny: Dickson, then 18, and his juvenile half-brother Dane Dickson, entered a small grocery store/bicycle repair shop and were attempting to steal beer when they were confronted by the 61-year old store owner. Dickson produced a sawed-off .22-caliber rifle from underneath his coat and shot the man once in the chest.

His wife was then shot in the face even though she had placed all the money from the store register on the counter and was on her knees.

The robbery netted $52 in cash and an undetermined amount of beer.

Dickson went for food and socialized hours after the shooting.

Dickson later admitted to police he was responsible for the shooting deaths of both victims. Dickson’s confession was corroborated by both physical evidence and by the statements at trial of Dane Dickson, who received a 15 year sentence for the robbery.

Prosecutors said Dickson told authorities he hoped the killing would earn him a teardrop tattoo to impress his colleagues in a gang known as the Varrio 16 Locos.

Priors: Dickson had frequent run-ins with the law as a juvenile, including burglary and assault arrests, was on probation at age 9 for stealing bikes and served time with the Texas Youth Commission. He was just two weeks past his 18th birthday when he was arrested in the double homicide

Last words and such: Dickson was cooperative with Texas prison officials and quietly went to his death. He spoke rapidly when asked if he had anything to say, “I’d like to say I love my mother, brother, sister, grandmother, cousins and nieces and my brothers and sisters I have never met. I do apologize to the Surace family. I am responsible for them losing their mother, their father and their grandmother. I never meant for them to be taken. I am sorry for what I did and take responsibility for what I did.”

No witnesses from his family or the victims' family attended the execution. His execution was witnessed by the prison chaplain, three journalists and several prison officials. Dickson wanted no witnesses of his own to watch him die. "It's part of the circus and I refuse to be part of the circus," he said in a recent interview. "I ain't got no choice about being there, but I ain't gonna bring any of my people into it."

Factoids: Dickson was the...

15th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1072nd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
13th murderer executed in Texas in 2007
392nd murderer executed in Texas since 1976

Monday, June 11, 2007

April 24, 2007

..."This will teach you to fuck with me," then he shot her twice. ...

Last Meal: A final special meal of steak, potato and cheese pirogies, a baked potato, dinner rolls, fresh vegetables, strawberry cheesecake and milk. Pirogies are stuffed dumplings.

According to the prison log at 11:20 a.m.: "Revision to special meal request: If pierogies are approved, Inmate Filiaggi would like chopped onions on top of them."

The request was granted, but after the meal was delivered, Filiaggi asked for extra sour cream. That request also was granted. He also asked for a toothpick but was told there weren't any. Later Monday he asked for a soda, changed his mind and asked for a cup of iced water. Later, he asked for a cup of coffee.

The skinny: Filiaggi was executed for the killing his ex-wife in January 1994.

More skinny: Filiaggi and the victim were married in December 1991. There were two daughters born during the marriage.

She filed for divorce nine months later. The divorce was granted in February 1993.

A few months later, the woman became engaged. Shortly thereafter, she and her finace became repeated victims of telephone harassment and vandalism. Filiaggi was charged with felony assault upon the woman's fiance when their two daughters were exchanged for visitation. He was later charged with intimidation and vandalism to their home.

Two days later, Filiaggi purchased a 9mm Luger pistol, and took a $1,000 cash advance on his Visa card. He left six to seven hundred dollars with his girlfriend, Tracey.

At 10:45 p.m., the Lorain Police Department dispatcher received a call from the woman stating that Filiaggi was at her back door and was breaking into her house. Filiaggi broke down the door and entered the house. Still carrying the telephone, the woman fled out the front door and into a neighbors house. Filiaggi broke down his door as well, found the woman in a closet, told her "This will teach you to fuck with me," then shot her twice.

Wounded, the victim ran to a bedroom, where she was shot twice more, killing her. Filiaggi fled to the woman's stepfather's house and attempted to shoot him as well.

Filiaggi pleaded innocent by reason of insanity, claiming a poor diet was what caused him to react violently; the so-called "Twinkie defense."

Not so fast, my friend: Filiaggi had stopped appealing his death sentence but then changed his mind and went to court five days ago was executed.

His appeal was rejected by several lower courts but his execution was then put on hold pending a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court issued a one-sentence denial on Monday without comment, about 20 minutes after the execution was supposed to have taken place. He died about an hour later.

Leading up to: Described as "calm and compliant," the condemned man did not sleep Monday night. He spent his final hours meeting with family and friends at his cell-side or talking with them on the phone. Filiaggi received the highest number of death house visitors — 24 — since Ohio resumed putting inmates to death in 1999. He had twice as many visitors as the inmate with the next highest tally.

The prison log also revealed a little known fact about post-execution procedures in Ohio: Filiaggi was the seventh inmate whose body was anointed in oil and prayed over in a short religious ceremony by the prison system's chaplain. The anointing was not disclosed previously because the chaplin considered the act a private matter. It was on Filiaggi's log because the execution team member recording the execution decided to note everything.

Last words and such: "I know I flipped some worlds upside down. For me, it's fine, but the state needs to learn this ain't the answer. This is no deterrent to crime. Some are falsely convicted, railroaded. The state needs to wake up. Maybe they will follow the Europeans. God is the only one who knows."

Factoids: Filiaggi was the...

14th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1071st murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Ohio in 2007
25th murderer executed in Ohio since 1976

Filiaggi was the first person executed in Ohio during Gov. Ted Strickland's term. The 24 previous executions, going back to 1999 when Ohio started enforcing the death penalty again, occurred when Bob Taft was governor.

Ohio is the nation's second-busiest death penalty state, since 1999.

April 11, 2007

...Clark's life ended with a chuckle and a gurgle, as he tried to make up his mind whe­ther he wanted to make a last statement...

Last Meal: Clark had no final meal request.

The skinny: Clark was executed for the rape-slaying of a Denton high school honors student just days after Clark was paroled from prison almost 14 years ago.

More skinny: Clark and accomplice James Richard Brown found a teenager boy and girl at Clear Creek north of Denton. Both Clark and Brown were released from prison less than two weeks earlier.

They had a rifle and a shotgun they had stolen from vehicles, and they were looking for someone to rob that night. DNA evidence showed Clark raped the woman several times before shooting her in the back of the head with a shotgun and pushing her body into the creek.

He put the shotgun under the boy’s chin and fired, then tossed his body into the creek.

The next afternoon a group of teens found the girl's body floating in the creek, tangled in the branches of a fallen tree.

Denton police were involved first. Clark and Brown arrived at a Denton convenience store in the early morning hours looking for medical help. Brown’s leg had almost been severed above the knee by a shotgun blast, and he was in danger of bleeding to death. The Denton detective didn’t believe the shaggy, dirty fellows’ story that they had been fishing when Brown was accosted by a robber and shot in the leg and alerted other officers that the men likely had committed some crime themselves.

When Clark led the police to the area where this shooting allegedly took place, there was no sign that the men had been there fishing or that someone had been shot.

Later that day, both teens’ mothers reported them missing in Denton, and officers were working to find them when the bodies were discovered.

Both Clark and Brown eventually admitted being at Clear Creek, blaming the other for the murders.

The stock of the murder weapon and ammunition was found in Clark's home. When police went to arrest Clark, he had barricaded the hallway with a table. An officer shoved the table out of the way and reached for a knife. The officer trained his MP-5 trained on him and Clark dropped the knife.

The officers read Clark his rights and handcuffed him. They put paper bags on his hands to preserve any evidence such as possible gunshot residue. “I remember he had on tiger-striped bikini underwear. We took him to jail like that,” and officer remembers. “All the neighbors were standing around in the yard watching when we took him away. He was public enemy No. 1.”

Accomplice Brown was also tried for capital murder. He looked young and defenseless as he sat at the defense table in a wheelchair. All of his taped statements professed his sorrow at the murders and his attempts to stop them. Jurors found him guilty of robbery and sentenced him to 20 years. He has been eligible for parole twice but the parole board has denied it.

Arriving at Huntsville: After receiving the death penalty, Clark left for Huntsville at 2 a.m. the next day. When he reached the prison, the guards shackled Clark and led him into the building. “Two buses from Houston had just arrived and there must have been 150 guys in different stages of getting booked in,” the transporting officer said. “A lot of them were buck naked. The guards said, ‘Death row inmate. Everybody face the wall.’ And every man in there turned his back on Clark and he walked down that long hall with a guard on each side of him. I’ll always remember he got part of the way down the hall and he turned around, twisted around all bent over and raised his shackled hands and waved at me. I thought, he’ll never leave this place alive.”

More on the victims: The girl was a popular junior at Ryan High School. She was a straight-A student and excelled at piano. She volunteered with the Denton Humane Society and had been elected president of the campus chapter of Amnesty International for her coming senior year.

The boy was an athlete who played both football and baseball for Ryan as a sophomore. He was interested in art, and the two met in an art class the semester before they died.

The autopsy report showed the girl’s tear ducts were swollen from hours of crying before her death.

Delays and appeals: Capital punishment opponents said Clark, who dropped out after the ninth grade, should be spared from execution because he may be mentally retarded and ineligible for the death penalty under a Supreme Court ruling. But state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court earlier this year, rejected appeals that argued Clark was mentally retarded and instead backed prosecutors' contentions Clark deliberately performed poorly on IQ tests. Three years ago, Clark came within four days of execution before he won a reprieve from a federal appeals court so questions about the mental retardation claims could be resolved.

The courts define mental retardation as having an IQ below 70. Clark's IQ was 74 when he was sent to the Texas Youth Commission after a juvenile conviction in 1983. Two other tests showed Clark's IQ at 65 and 68.

Clark reached the equivalent of the 12th grade at the Gainesville State School, completed a GED and took a community college welding class.

Clark's cell on Death Row contained copies of newspaper articles, crossword puzzles and two novels: A Tale of Two Cities and Lord Jim. But none of the crosswords had been completed, and his attorneys said outside the courtroom that he never read the books.

Last words and such: Clark's life ended with a chuckle and a gurgle, as he tried to make up his mind whe­ther he wanted to make a last statement.

Clark, already strapped down to a gurney when the witnesses arrived, blink­ed and smiled when the prison warden asked if he had a last statement to make. “Uh, I don’t know,” he said with a nervous chuckle. “Um, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know …”

Clark then turned and appeared to see the witnesses behind the glass. “I didn’t know anybody was there,” he said with another laugh. “Howdy.” With that, he made a noise like a gurgle and was still. It had taken seven minutes for the three drugs administered in a lethal injection to take effect.

Factoids: Clark was the...

13th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1070th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
12th murderer executed in Texas in 2007
391st murderer executed in Texas since 1976

The Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty said James Lee Clark's execution was the 152nd in Texas since Rick Perry became governor in December 2000, tying the record set by his predecessor, U.S. President George W. Bush.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

March 29, 2007

...Prison officials credited a chaplain for calming Pippin, who set a fire in his cell hours before he was scheduled to die...

Last Meal: Pippin had no final meal request.

The skinny: Pippin was executed for the shooting deaths of two Florida men in Houston 13 years ago.

Prison officials credited a chaplain for calming Pippin, who set a fire in his cell hours before he was scheduled to die.

More skinny: Roy Lee Pippin owned and operated an air conditioning business in Houston, which he used to launder Colombian drug money.

Pippin realized that approximately $1.8-$2 million in drug proceeds were missing and suspected two men, cousins from Florida. Pippin immediately notified his “supervisor” referred to as “Alfredo” who instructed him to rent a van and some motel rooms.

Following these orders, Pippin rented a white panel van and reserved two rooms at a motel on April 27, 1994. At Pippin’s request, one of his employees abducted two cousins and took the two men to the motel where they were held captive. During the days that followed the men were taken to Pippin’s house or southwest Houston warehouse several times and repeatedly questioned about the missing money. On the morning of Wednesday, May 4, 1994, Pippin shot both cousins at the warehouse.

Though fatally wounded, one man escaped the warehouse after Pippin left. Police found him next door, and he told police that Roy Pippin shot him. The man died from his wounds at the hospital later that day.

At his trial, Pippin admitted to participating in the aggravated kidnappings of the two but denied killing any of them or even being present when they were killed. Pippin, who claimed to have moved as much as $600 million in drug proceeds, blamed the slayings on others in the drug ring.

Hunger strike: For years, he railed about conditions on death row and earlier this week ended a six-week hunger strike to protest the living conditions and the lethal injection method he faced. He broke the fast with a piece of carrot cake and a sandwich purchased by a friend from a vending machine in the prison’s visiting area.

The most recent hunger strike was not Pippin’s first. Letters from Pippin posted to the Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty’s website said that Pippin went on a hunger strike note that Pippin has held at least two hunger strikes in the last 6 years.

Last words and such: Pippin had warned in the weeks before his punishment that he would not go quietly. Just before he was taken from death row near Livingston to the Huntsville, about 45 miles to the west, where executions are carried out, he piled up trash in front of his cell door and set it on fire, using a piece of wire he stuck in an electric outlet to ignite it. Officers responded with a water hose to extinguish the blaze. The fire generated smoke but no damage or injuries. Pippin was taken to a medical clinic at the unit, where he was treated for smoke inhalation.

When he arrived at the Huntsville Unit, Pippin repeated his intention to not cooperate, but his conversations with a chaplain, whom prison officials did not identify, cooled his anger. He then walked himself to the Texas death chamber. "Throughout the afternoon, you could see his demeanor changing," Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons.

"I charge the people of the jury, trial judge, the prosecutor that cheated to get this conviction. I charge each and every one of you with the murder of an innocent man. You will answer to your maker when you find out you have executed an innocent man. May God have mercy on your souls."" Pippin again admitted his role laundering drugs and money and said, "I ask forgiveness for all of the poison I helped bring into the U.S., the country I love. If my murder makes it easier for everyone else, let the forgiveness be part of the healing." He also expressed his love to his family, including his son and daughter, before he concluded with: "That's it. Warden, go ahead and murder me." As the lethal drugs began to flow at 6:34 p.m., Pippin uttered: "Jesus, take me home."

Factoids: Pippin was the...

12th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1069th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
11th murderer executed in Texas in 2007
390th murderer executed in Texas since 1976

March 28, 2007

...where’s my stunt double when you need one”...

Last Meal: Gutierrez, 28, had a final meal request of five cheese enchiladas, two jalapeño peppers, two carne guisada tacos (tacos filled with beef tips in spicy brown gravy), an onion, a tomato, a bunch of grapes, one pint of butter pecan ice cream, strawberry milk and one banana milk shake.

The skinny: Gutierrez was executed for the killing of an Air Force officer during a carjacking 10 years ago.

More skinny: Randy Arroyo purchased a car similar to a Mazda RX-7, and met with Vincent Gutierrez and others at the residence of Christopher Suaste to discuss his desire to steal a Mazda RX-7 for parts. The following morning, Suaste, Arroyo, and Gutierrez drove to a nearby apartment complex where a red Mazda RX-7 owned by an Air Force captain.

As the captain was getting into his car for work, Gutierrez and Arroyo forced their way in at gunpoint and drove away from the complex. The man tried to escape and at Arroyo's urging Gutierrez shot their captive. When the mortally wounded man began choking and coughing up blood, Gutierrez said he didn't want to ride around with a dead man, so he heaved the man from the moving car. His body was dumped on the shoulder of Interstate 410 during a morning rush hour and the car was abandoned. The first person to pull over to assist the captain was a military flight surgeon, but little could be done to save the victim, who had been shot from behind, the bullet ripping through his heart. Less than two hours later, the captain, 39, died at a hospital.

Later, Gutierrez laughingly explained the murder to friends. He was seen later the day of the shooting wearing a T-shirt and shorts with Air Force logos. The clothing had come from the back of the victim's car. Gutierrez — known to his friends as "Flaco," Spanish for "Skinny" — had been free just two weeks after spending two months in a prison boot camp for a burglary conviction.

The aftermath: The crime was reported on that evening's news. Arroyo and Suaste went to the police and voluntarily confessed involvement in the murder. They led police to the .357 caliber handgun Gutierrez had used to kill with, as well as the .25 caliber handgun Arroyo had carried during the robbery and kidnapping.

Arroyo was also sentenced to death, but his death sentence was commuted to life after the U.S. Supreme Court two years ago ruled people could not be executed for crimes committed when they were under the age of 18. Gutierrez was 18.

Suaste is serving a 35-year prison sentence for aggravated robbery.

From death row: In an interview from death row given in November 2006, Gutierrez said that he was afraid of going to prison if the victim escaped and could identify him. "So I went ahead and shot him twice," Gutierrez said. He said he felt no remorse over the death. "In order for me to be remorseful, I have to feel for somebody, and I didn't know him, so I don't feel for him."

In the interview, Gutierrez also warned that if he got out of prison, "I'd create havoc in Texas."

Last words and such: “I would like to tell everybody that I’m sorry about the situation that happened. My bad — everybody is here because of what happened." It was unclear from his statement whether he was apologizing for the fatal shooting. He thanked his family for their support and gave one final sendoff to his brother, Phillip: “My brother, where’s my stunt double when you need one,” he said with a laugh. He then said a brief prayer as the lethal drugs began to flow.

Phillip Gutierrez could be heard championing his brother after Vincent took his final breath. “That’s a good man, right there. A damn good man,” Phillip Gutierrez said. “He paid his debt like a man.” Sister Doris Moore, spiritual advisor to the Gutierrez family, likened Vincent Gutierrez’s execution to the act of a terrorist. “This is so inhuman,” she said. “We’re just like terrorists.”

Factoids: Gutierrez was the...

11th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1068th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
10th murderer executed in Texas in 2007
389th murderer executed in Texas since 1976

Seems to me if I was really sorry for what I’d done (bad enough to deserve
death)-and wanted the world to know that I’d changed I’d make up a grocery list
a mile long and will it to a homeless shelter. Great Site – Spent the whole
night reading. Thanks for your hard work, Crystal G.

My last meal would consist of:

1. Chicken, Steak, Bacon quesadillas (2)
2. 2 Tacos
3. 1 slice of Pizza
4. French fries
5. 1 bottle of RC Cola
6. 1 bottle of water
7. 1 carton of milk (soy milk)
8. Chocolate pudding (1)

Leana Jo Murphy-Hover
Prescott, Az.

Hi, I'm John from Glasgow, Scotland. My last meal would be as follows:

Small bowl of Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup
One small portion of Lasagne
One Veal steak (well done) served with grilled mushrooms and Potato
One small portion of Beef Fajitas
One half of a fresh pineapple
One bottle of Southern Comfort

Many thanks!


Tommy F. from parts unknown...

my last would be: an oyster po-boy sandwich, 20 shrimp and cocktail sauce, a carne asada torta, warm bread and spinach dip, a quart of chocolate milk and, 2 cans of grape soda.

Tbelk from parts unknown...

I want a 4 lb. lobster with 16 oz. of claified butter
1 large pizza from Pizza Hut (4 cheese with stuffed crust)
12 Biscuts with home made white gravey
3 deep fried chicken breast
2 Qts. of Orange chicken
16 oz. of may tag blue cheese with ritz crackers
12 bottles of mugs diet root beer
Stick a fork in me I'm done..............

March 20, 2007

..."tell the guys on death row I'm not wearing a diaper." ...

Last Meal: Nealy had no final meal request.

The skinny: Nealy, 42, was executed for a fatal shooting during a convenience store holdup in Dallas nearly 10 years ago.

More skinny: On the evening of August 20, 1997, as Charles Nealy, a man with a history of robberies, drove by the Expressway Mart in south Dallas, he told his nephew, Memphis Nealy, that he was going to “come back and get” the people at that store, because “the bitches” wouldn’t sell him “no Blackie mounds” (referring to Black and Milds, a brand of cigar).

Later that night, Charles Nealy drove to the Expressway Mart, with Reginald Mitchell and nephew Claude Nealy as passengers. Mitchell went in the store and paid for gasoline, then went out and pumped it. When he finished, Charles Nealy, armed with a shotgun, and with his nephew, Claude, toting a handgun, entered the store and demanded money.

The store owner was in the office taking a nap, while his brother and a 17-year old employee were behind the counter. Nealy entered the office and shot the owner in the chest with the shotgun. Nealy's nephew, Claude, then shot the owner's brother in the head. Both men died.

Nealy came out with a briefcase full of money and said, "I got the man in the office." The men then took cash from the register and grabbed a six-pack of beer and a bottle of wine, then left the store. These events were recorded on the store’s video camera and shown to the jury

Claude received a life sentence for the murder the owner's brother.

The getaway driver, Reginald Mitchell testified that as the three drove away, Charles Nealy said “in a little old happy tone” that “this is the way the Nealy’s do it.” Mitchell also testified Charles Nealy threatened to kill him if he told anyone about the robbery and shootings.

Mitchell received a two year sentence for his participation in the robbery.

Not a model prisoner: Nealy accumulated 70 disciplinary reports while in prison. While he was in jail awaiting trial for capital murder, Nealy and two other inmates assaulted another inmate, breaking his jaw.

At trial, after the assaulted inmate had testified, Nealy threatened him and shouted obscenities at him. Nealy was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.

From Death Row: "There's all kinds of weird stuff going on in this case," Charles Nealy said last week from death row, denying any involvement in the shootings. He said he was in Ardmore, Okla., at the time of the slayings, picking up a relative's truck.

He acknowledged the prospect of execution was scary. "Since I've been here, my dad died, my stepdad died, my mother died, one of my friends commited suicide," he said. "And I'm up here where people are dying, it seems, like every week. "Sometimes the Prozac just isn't enough."

Last words and such: Nealy made his last statement - a calm, 4½-minute monologue. In it, Nealy asked witnesses to "tell the guys on death row I'm not wearing a diaper." He then criticized the Dallas County assistant prosecutor who handled his case. "You messed up. Now to cover it up, the state is killing me. I'm not sad and bitter. I feel sad for everyone else. You have to stay here; I'm going to someplace better." Nealy wished his friends and relatives well and expressed love. "I'm not crying, so y'all don't cry. Don't be sad for me. I'm going to be with God and Allah and Momma." "Don't bury me in that prison graveyard, I want to be buried next to momma. By the way, the reason it took so long was because [they] couldn't find a vein. I used to tear up the doctor's office. I hate needles." Nealy continued talking as the lethal injection was administered. As he was losing consciousness, Nealy said he could "feel it."

Factoids: Nealy was the...

10th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1067th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
9th murderer executed in Texas in 2007
388th murderer executed in Texas since 1976