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Wyoming Carries Out First Execution Since 1965; Texas Also Executes Killer

January 22, 1992

RAWLINS, Wyo. (AP) _ A man who had a couple and their son killed, then ordered the murder of a man who was about to implicate him in those slayings, was put to death by injection today in Wyoming’s first execution in 26 years.

″You got the wrong man,″ 42-year-old Mark Hopkinson declared in a final statement before his execution at the Wyoming State Penitentiary.

Hopkinson went to his death after the state Supreme Court, a federal judge and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected last-minute appeals.

Until today, Wyoming had not executed anyone since December 1965.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund said his also death marked the first time since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed resumption of capital punishment in 1976 that a person who arranged a murder but wasn’t present at it was executed.

A few hours earlier, Joe Angel Cordova, 39, was executed by injection in Huntsville, Texas, for killing a stranded motorist 10 years ago.

Cordova abducted 32-year-old Masel Williams from a phone booth in Houston, took him to the woods and killed him with a shotgun blast to the chest as he pleaded for his life. Cordova, on parole for burglary, then took Williams’ car.

He was executed after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court refused a last-minute stay.

Cordova was the 43rd Texas inmate to be put to death since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982, the highest number in the nation.

In Hopkinson’s final statement, he said he decided at the last minute not to let anyone but official witnesses see his execution.

″I just couldn’t lie there knowing they were watching me,″ he said.

He was convicted in 1979 of ordering the bombing deaths of lawyer Vincent Vehar, his wife and a son, as well as ordering the slaying of Jeffrey Lynn Green.

Vehar, who represented a sewer board, had a dispute with Hopkinson over whether sewer lines would be extended to his trailer park.

Green, 23, disappeared two days before he was to testify against Hopkinson before a grand jury investigating the Vehar bombing. His body was found with 150 cigarette burns and a gunshot wound. Green’s killer was never apprehended.

Hopkinson received three life sentences for the Vehar deaths and the death penalty for Green’s killing.

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