Saturday, February 21, 2009


February 4, 2009

...Henley's daughter vomited into a trash can between her feet...

Last Meal: Henley had a final meal request of a seafood plate of shrimp, fish, oysters, onion rings and hush puppies.

The skinny: Henley was executed for the murder of an elderly couple who were found dead in their burned-out farmhouse in 1985.

More skinny: An elderly couple lived just a short distance from the farm owned by Steve Henley’s family. On the day of the murders, Henley had visited his grandmother. Accomplice Terry Flatt was with him.

According to Flatt, Henley commented that the the couple had owed his grandparents some money, and he was going to stop and see about collecting some money off them.” Henley retrieved a .22 rifle with him, and filled a plastic jug with gasoline. He confronted the the couple in the yard, and said “I want your money, if you don’t give it to me this man in the truck here, he’s going to kill me.” He then directed them to go to the house.

Despite the man offering to give Henley money, as they reached the porch Flatt saw Henley begin to shoot. He first shot the man then turned and shot the woman a time or two. While she was laying on the floor moaning and groaning he threw the rifle to Flatt, took out his pistol and shot her again with the pistol.

Both men poured gasoline, lit it, and fled. The bodies of the the couple were found in the ashes. Investigators initially thought their deaths were accidental, but an autopsy concluded both had been shot. The autopsy also found that the woman was still alive when the fire was set.

Flatt was given a reduced sentence for his testimony against Henley and served five years of a 25-year prison sentence.

Henley blamed the murders on the co-defendant, who successfully finished parole last year.

Last words and such: Henley was revealed to family members and media witnesses to the execution at 1:17 a.m., already strapped to the death gurney. When he heard the shouts and cries of his family, Henley lifted his head and smiled to them.

In his final words, Henley more than once maintained his innocence. “As I have said ever since this happened, I didn’t kill them,” Henley said during his final words of his victims, “I hope they can rest easier after this procedure is done.” “I would like to say I hope this gives (the victim’s) family some peace. In my experience in life, it won’t. The death of a family member never brings anything but pain.”

“I’m an innocent man,”
Henley added later.

Henley talked with his two adult children who were watching from an execution viewing room until he said he could feel the cocktail take effect. His daughter blew him a kiss and his son gave a thumbs-up. Henley’s sister and son-in-law also attended. "Stop that crying. Stop it. I’ll see you on the other side," Henley told his family as he playfully stuck out his tongue. "Y’all are a pitiful bunch." Henley’s head then rolled back onto the gurney, and he began to snore.

Stacy Rector, his spiritual adviser of 10 years, led the family’s recitation of the Lord’s Prayer as they clung to each other. Henley's daughter vomited into a trash can between her feet.

“They killed my brother for nothing!” explained the sister. The woman eventually turned her anger on members of the press sitting in the death chamber as witnesses. “I don’t see a tear back here,” she said, as she turned to face reporters. “I guess human life has no meaning anymore. Like a bunch of dogs.”

A nephew of the victims also witnessed the execution from a separate room.

Factoids: Henley was the...

8th murderer executed in U.S. in 2009
1144th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
1st murderer executed in Tennesee in 2009
5th murderer executed in Tennesee since 1976

Outside the prison in subfreezing temperatures, 66 death penalty opponents gathered around space heaters and held posters as they protested the execution.