Friday, November 06, 2009

Texas Executes 20th Person in 2009, 204th Under Rick Perry and 443rd Since 1982

Khristian Oliver was executed Thursday, November 5, 2009 in Huntsville, Texas. He was the 20th person executed in Texas in 2009, the 204th executed since Rick Perry became governor and the 443rd executed in Texas since 1982.

From KTRE:

At the Huntsville Walls Unit Execution 999.301 occurred. That's the official state title the State of Texas gave the lethal injection of Khristian Oliver, 32.

"He was very calm. Eight minutes after the lethal injection began he was pronounced deceased tonight," Jason Clark, public information spokesman for TDCJ. Families and local officials including District Attorney Nicole LoStracco, Sheriff Thomas Kerss and Texas Ranger Tom Davis were among the witnesses.

At six o'clock, right before the lethal injection, Oliver took time to speak to both families. He first spoke to the victim's family of Joe Collins Sr. He told them tonight's execution would not bring them closure. Oliver told them he was sorry and had prayed for them.

The family questions Oliver's sincerity. "I felt it was more self-healing for him than for us," Joe Collins Jr. Said shortly after the execution. "He didn't admit to much. He wanted us to feel better and have some closure. But it's kinda hard."

The only sister of five children, Elsie Walker had mixed emotions about witnessing the execution. "I will be there for my brothers," Walker said the day before the execution. Shortly after watching a man die Walker said, "It was pretty hard, but I made it."

It was difficult for the Oliver family as well. At 5:58 p.m. Oliver's parents, brother, sister and brother-in-law made a short walk across the street to the Wall's Unit to hear Khristian's final words. "He told his mother and father that he loved them," Clark described.

Watching their son's passing was hard. It was quite the opposite for the Collins. "There wasn't nothing difficult. I looked at him. I didn't see any real remorse in his eyes. It was very easy to stand there," said Collins Jr.
From the Dallas Morning News:
Khristian Oliver, 32, lost an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court just more than an hour before he was scheduled for lethal injection for the March 1998 slaying of Joe Collins, 64. Collins was killed when he interrupted the break-in of his rural home outside Nacogdoches.

State and federal courts, including the Supreme Court, earlier upheld Oliver's conviction and death sentence, but Oliver's attorney renewed his appeal to the high court and urged Gov. Rick Perry to invoke a rarely used authority and issue a one-time 30-day reprieve.

There was no immediate response from the governor's office.

The execution would be the 20th this year in Texas.

A witness to the beating attack on Collins compared it to someone getting bashed with an ax or a golf club. Oliver's lawyers argued jurors who improperly brought Bibles with them into deliberations without the knowledge of the trial judge in Nacogdoches County likened the rifle to a biblical iron object. In Chapter 35 of Numbers, a murderer who uses an iron object to kill "shall surely be put to death."

Oliver's lawyer, David Dow, said there was nothing wrong with people bringing their religious values into the jury room.

"But they must take great care to insure that, in sentencing a murderer, they follow Texas law rather than religious law, and in this case, the jurors did not do so," he said.

At an evidentiary hearing, jurors gave various accounts, ranging from one Bible to several being present in the jury room. One testified they had them because they went to Bible study after court proceedings. Another said any reading from the books came after they reached a decision. A third said the reading of Scripture was intended to make them feel better about their decision.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said evidence was contradictory on whether jurors consulted the Bible before or after deliberations and that several jurors testified the Bible "was not a focus of their discussions."

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