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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

August 21, 2007

Last Meal: Welch had a final meal request of a large super supreme pizza and a two-liter bottle of Coke.

The skinny: Welch was executed for a 1987 rape and murder that had gone unsolved for 10 years.

More skinny: The nude body of the 28-year old victim was discovered by her husband in the living room their Norman residence.

The woman, who was four months pregnant, was bound with leather straps and duct tape causing her death by strangulation. A child's plastic toy was found inserted in her vagina, and tears were noted by the medical examiner in her rectum and vagina.

Welch entered the home by posing as a cable television repairman, having lost his job the day before. The case went unsolved until 10 years later when Welch’s DNA was matched to a similar crime scene in the 10-year-old unsolved murder case of a woman, whose nude body was also discovered in her family’s home outside Tuttle less than three months after the Norman death.

Welch was serving time in prison for attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and kidnapping in 1997 when he was linked by DNA to the killings of both women.

Welch admitted to the murder in a letter earlier this year to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.

Last words and such: While strapped to a gurney in the death chamber at the McAlester, Oklahoma, Welch apologized for his crimes. "There is nothing that can change the horrible thing I done," Welch said. "There is nothing that can change that. I take full responsibility for what I done. I am truly, truly sorry for all the hurt and pain I have caused you. I take full responsibility for what I've done. There's no excuse for it. There never was."

As the lethal combination of drugs flowed into Welch's arm, one of his brothers, who was in an adjacent viewing room, began having breathing problems and collapsed to the floor. Prison medical personnel attended to him, but he refused to be taken to a hospital in an ambulance.

Factoids: Welch was the...

34th murderer executed in U.S. in 2007
1091st murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
2nd murderer executed in Oklahoma in 2007
86th murderer executed in Oklahoma since 1976