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Friday, November 22, 2002

66 year old Man becomes oldest ever executed in Texas - Claimed Innocence

66 year old Man becomes oldest ever executed in Texas

Convicted killer, 66, oldest executed in Texas 
November 20, 2002 

Bitterly professing his innocence, 66-year-old William Wesley Chappell became the oldest man executed by Texas today for fatally shooting a Fort Worth woman in a revenge spree that also left the woman's parents dead. 

"My request to you is to get yourself in church and pray to God he forgives you because you are murdering me," Chappell said. 

He angrily insisted he should have had additional DNA tests on evidence and suggested others were responsible for the triple slaying. Chappell also denied molesting a child that authorities said led him to commit the slayings. 

"You know damn well I didn't molest that child," he told Jane Sitton, who watched a few feet away through a window. "You all are murdering me and I feel sorry for you. I don't know what else to say. Please go to church and say ...," he said, unable to complete his sentence as the drugs began taking effect. 

Chappell was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. CST, 7 minutes after the flow of drugs began. About 45 minutes earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court denied his final appeals. 

He also was the oldest convict executed in Texas since the state in 1924 took over capital punishment duties from counties. Of the 361 men electrocuted between then and 1964, Henry Meyer, from Harris County, was the oldest when he was put to death June 8, 1955, at age 65. 

Since Texas resumed executions in 1982 with lethal injection, two convicted killers, Betty Lou Beets and Clydell Coleman, were the oldest at 62 when they were put to death. 

Authorities believed Chappell missed his intended target, an ex- girlfriend who had moved out fearing for her safety, and was not there the night of May 3, 1988, when he broke into the home and began shooting people with a silencer-equipped gun. Killed were Alexandra Heath, 27; her stepfather, Elbert Sitton, 71; and her mother, Martha Lindsey, 50. 

"These people were doing nothing but sleeping in their beds," said Greg Miller, a Tarrant County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Chappell. "This is a guy the death penalty was designed for, in my opinion." 

A year before the Fort Worth killings, Chappell was convicted of indecency with a child for molesting the 3-year-old daughter of Heath's half-sister, Jane Sitton, and received a 5-year prison term. He was free on bond, however, pending appeal. 

"We believe the person he intended to kill that night was that little girl's mother," Miller said. "We think he thought he was killing Jane Sitton but obviously he killed Alexandra Heath, her sister. 

"Regardless of who he killed, it's a bad deal all around." 

"I think putting him to death is more of a protection to society than anything else," Sitton, now 38, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "If anyone should be put to death, I guess it should be him." 

Chappell, who refused to speak with reporters in the weeks preceding his scheduled punishment, had warned Lindsey outside the courtroom after the indecency trial that, "It wasn't over yet." Court records showed he also said he wanted to "do away" with the indsey-Sitton family. 

Testimony at his capital murder trial showed he tried to burn down their house in January 1988, only to discover later damage was minimal and no one was hurt. Jane Sitton said that's when she decided to move out. Heath took her room. 

Chappell's then-wife, Sally Hayes, testifying against Chappell in exchange for a probated sentence, said he had been working on a gun silencer, that she dropped him off at the house the night of May 3, 1988, that when she picked him up he said he had "shot Jane, her mother and her daddy," and that he said he had taken some money to make the shootings look like a robbery. 

The couple fled to Tennessee where Chappell learned it was Alexandra Heath who was among those killed, not Jane Sitton. 

Heath was shot several times and was dead at the scene. Lindsey died 2 days later. Elbert Sitton survived for 2 months before dying of his wounds. He told an emergency room physician the gunman was the man who had raped a family member. 

Chappell's 1st capital murder conviction was thrown out by an appeals court, which ruled his jury was selected improperly. A 1nd trial was stopped by a mistrial. In 1996, at his 3rd trial, a jury again convicted him and decided he should be put to death. 

On Tuesday, Craig Ogan, 47, received lethal injection for the 1989 slaying of a Houston police officer. 2 more executions are set to Texas this year, both in December. At least 13 are scheduled in the 1st 3 months of 2003. 

Chappell becomes the 31st condemned inmate to be put to death in Texas this year and the 287th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7, 1982. Chappell becomes the 48th condemned inmate to be put to death during the tenure of Rick Perry as Governor. 

Chappell becomes the 61st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 810th overall since America resumed executions on January 17, 1977. 

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