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South Carolina Executes Murderer; Oregon Plans First Execution In 34 Years

September 6, 1996

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ A man who said he was just taking care of business when he killed three people in 1987 _ including one he choked with a dog chain _ was executed by injection early this morning.

Michael Torrence, 35, was executed by injection and pronounced dead at 1:21 a.m.

Meanwhile, in Oregon, Douglas Franklin Wright faced execution shortly after 3 a.m. Wright, who killed three homeless men in 1991, was to become the first person executed in Oregon in 34 years.

Torrence, who had waived his appeals, expressed no remorse for killing two men during a 1987 robbery and a prostitute a month later.

``When I take care of business, I don’t cut anybody any slack,″ he told The (Columbia) State on Wednesday.

Torrence killed Dennis Lollis and Charles Bush in Midlands in February 1987. He stabbed Lollis as many as 19 times and choked Bush with a dog chain. A month later, he shot Cynthia Williams, a Charleston prostitute whom he said was his girlfriend.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., Thursday denied an appeal by Torrence’s court-appointed lawyer, Jay Elliott, who said Torrence is borderline mentally retarded, has claimed he was a Guatemalan guerrilla and talked with Barbie dolls on Death Row.

Wright, 56, also refused to appeal his execution in Oregon. A prison log of his final days showed he listened to Bob Dylan’s ``Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door″ over and over.

He was sentenced to death for the 1991 killings of three homeless men he lured from the Portland streets to central Oregon with the promise of work. He was charged with killing a fourth homeless man, but that case never went to trial.

Wright served 12 years in prison for the 1969 murders of an Oregon woman and her mother. Last week, he confessed to kidnapping, molesting and killing a 10-year-old boy who disappeared from Portland 12 years ago.

Oregon is the only state where voters have outlawed capital punishment twice, in 1914 and 1964. They voted to re-establish it in 1920 and 1978.

Before Wright, the last person executed in Oregon was LeeRoy Sanford McGahuey, who died in the gas chamber on Aug. 20, 1962, for killing a child with a hammer.

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