Sunday, November 12, 2006

October 25, 2006

...the region of Tuscany and the municipality of Cascina, both had agreed to have Summers buried there at their expense..

Last Meal: Summers had a final meal request of salad, onion rings, chili dogs, and sweet iced tea.

The skinny: Summers, 48, was executed for initiating a murder-for-hire plot that led to the fatal stabbing of his parents and an uncle.

More skinny: Summers was convicted of hiring another man for $10,000 to kill his adoptive parents. His father's brother, who was mentally retarded and living with the couple was also killed. Each had been stabbed repeatedly and the home was set on fire.

Summers was the beneficiary and hoped to collect $24,000 in insurance benefits. Relatives told authorities that he was having financial problems, and his father had decided to stop bailing him out financially.

Police were first contacted by Keenan Wilcox, who said that his acquaintance, Gregory Summers, tried to hire him to murder his parents and mentally retarded uncle and to burn their house down. He said that Summers offered to pay him from insurance money and cash in the house. Another tipster said that his brother, Andrew Cantu, told him that he was hired for $10,000 to commit the murders. Cantu, a paroled burglar at the time, was supposed to find his payoff in a dresser drawer at the Summers' Abilene home, but no money was there.

Numerous relatives and acquaintances testified about Summers' difficult relationship with his father and about his many threats to kill him and burn his house down with him in it. Witnesses also testified to his history of violence against his family, including kicking his first wife in the stomach when she was pregnant, beating his second wife, holding a gun to her head, and forcing her to beg for her life on her knees, and beating his sons.

Andrew Cantu was also convicted and sentenced to death, and was executed in 1999. Two accomplices, Ramon Gonzales and Paul Flores, received plea bargains and testified against Cantu and Summers. Two men testified that Cantu slipped through a back window, stabbed the husband nine times in the chest, his wife eight times and the uncle seven times, then set the house on fire. Cantu denied involvement and blamed the companions.

Adoption: Gene and Helen Summers adopted their son when he was 3 days old. He was their only child.

The Trial: About 70 witnesses testified for the prosecution at Summers' trial, which was moved from Abilene because of publicity and held in Denton, about 185 miles to the east.

Prosecutors also showed how Summers previously collected insurance payoffs from fires at his grandmother's house and a vehicle.

Last words and such: Summers' execution was delayed about three hours by final appeals efforts.

Asked by Warden Thomas Prasifka if he had a final statement while strapped to the death chamber gurney, Summer replied, "No."

Three of Summers’ friends came in support of him, each dressed in a pink shirt and black slacks. They offered tears and prayers to the condemned, hands pressed firmly upon the glass. As Summers’ final moments passed his friends could be seen huddled together, sending out one final silent good-bye.

Italian Saps or Saints? Officials in the Tuscany region of Italy are seeking to have Summers buried in a small town near Pisa at the man's request. An Italian school teacher is leading the effort. Summers had been corresponding with students from a local middle school for several years from prison. "He let it be known that he wanted to be buried in a white coffin with the (school) children's signatures," said the teacher, Maria Carmela Carretta. "He wanted it to be white as a symbol of innocence, and I, too, have decided that while it is not my favorite color, I will wear something white at the funeral."

Massimo Toschi, Tuscany's official in charge of international cooperation, said the region and the municipality of Cascina, 11 miles east of Pisa, both had agreed to have Summers buried there at their expense. "This is dependent, obviously, on getting consent from the family," Toschi said.

Italy is a firm opponent of capital punishment, which is banned throughout the European Union. S ince 1999, the lights illuminating Rome's ancient Colosseum have turned from white to gold every time a death sentence is commuted around the world or a country abolishes capital punishment.

Factoids: Summers was the....

48th murderer executed in U.S. in 2006
1052nd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
22nd murderer executed in Texas in 2006
377th murderer executed in Texas since 1976

The lethal injection of Summers came more than seven years after the execution of Andrew Cantu.