Thursday, February 16, 2006

February 15, 2006

...cabdrivers are 60 times more likely than other workers to be slain on the job...

Last Meal: Smith, 32, had a final meal request of a cheeseburger.

The skinny: Smith was executed for the 1992 fatal shooting of a Houston cab driver during a robbery.

More skinny: The victim's body was found in his cab in the parking lot of a Houston apartment complex. An autopsy revealed he died after being shot three times in the back of his neck with a .38 caliber pistol.

Two months later, Houston Police responded to an apartment complex and found that murderer Smith had accidentally shot himself in the leg. A .38 caliber handgun was found and ballstic tests linked the gun to the fatal shootings of the victiim and another cab driver during a 1992 robbery. Upon his arrest, Smith confessed to shooting both men. Two women, girlfriends of Smith, testified against him. One called a crime tip line that led police to Smith. One of them said she was in the cab when he committed one of the slayings.

Later: Smith said the confessions were coerced. "I realize how bad that looked, because the two were so similar," he said of the two deaths. "But at the same time, I still maintain I didn't kill those persons."

From death row, he said the last time he saw a relative was 1991. He also has a daughter, about 18, who has no contact with him. "I didn't want her to be exposed to this," he said.

Last words and such: "I want to thank you all for being here and for your love and support," Smith said to his lawyer and four European pen pals who befriended him during his prison term. Smith did not acknowledge the relatives of another slain cab driver who were present for the execution.

Factoids: Smith was the...

8th murderer executed in U.S. in 2006
1012th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
4th murderer executed in Texas in 2006
359th murderer executed in Texas since 1976

Smith was the second of three scheduled this month in the nation's busiest capital punishment state.

In the 1980s, 15.1 of every 100,000 taxicab drivers lost their lives to murder. Though the murder rate has dropped since the mid-1990s, when cabs were first equipped with emergency alarms and cameras and could be tracked throughout their city routes, a 2000 report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration revealed that cabdrivers are still 60 times more likely than other workers to be slain on the job.