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Texas Executes Repentant Killer; Struggle Precedes Florida Execution

April 16, 1986

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) _ Jeffery Allen Barney became the second man executed in the United States in as many days early today, proclaiming that he deserved to die for the rape and murder of the wife of a minister who had befriended him in 1981.

″I’m sorry for what I done,″ Barney said in a final statement. ″I deserve it. I hope Jesus forgives me.″

Barney, 28, had asked that no appeals be filed to halt the execution, which was by injection. It was the fifth execution in the United States this year and the 55th since states resumed imposing the death penalty in 1976.

The 54th execution took place at midday Tuesday, when Daniel Thomas, 37, was put to death in Florida’s electric chair for killing a man and raping his wife during a 10-month crime spree in 1975 and 1976.

In contrast to Barney’s repentant comments, Thomas struggled with his guards for seven minutes to avoid being strapped into the electric chair. He also made a final statement in which he accused Florida Gov. Bob Graham of executing people for political motives.

Barney was described throughout his final day as calm - so calm that he spent his last hours playing dominoes with a guard. His last meal was two boxes of cereal and a pint of milk.

″I’m a tingling all over,″ he said after the injection. His shoulders and chest trembled briefly, a tear rolled down his cheek and he stopped breathing. He was pronounced dead at 12:22 a.m.

″He said he is guilty and has made it right with the Lord and has to pay his debt with society,″ said Freddie Wier, one of the chaplains who witnessed his execution.

Barney, who had an extensive juvenile record, was arrested in his native Dayton, Ohio, on Nov. 28, 1981, driving the Cadillac owned by Ruby Longsworth. Four days earlier, Mrs. Longsworth, 54, had been raped and strangled in her Houston-area home.

″She was a good person,″ said Debra Murrell, 31, Mrs. Longsworth’s daughter. ″She didn’t deserve to die.″

Mrs. Longsworth’s husband, John, was a minister who helped Barney get a job after he was released from prison for an auto theft conviction.

In Florida, Thomas was pronounced dead at 12:19 p.m. EST Tuesday, five minutes after a black-hooded executioner threw a switch that sent 2,000 volts of power surging through him.

Thomas, 37, was a leader of the ″ski-mask gang″ that rampaged through rural Central Florida for 10 months in the mid-1970s. He was convicted of the New Year’s Day 1976 shooting death of Charles Anderson, 48. Anderson’s wife was raped as her husband bled to death.

One prison official received a kick in the groin and a minor bite wound when Thomas began struggling shortly after he was seated in the oak electric chair.

″Get off me 3/8 Get off me 3/8″ yelled Thomas. He also screamed obscenities at the five corrections officers and two medical officers who struggled to strap him in the chair.

After he was calmed, Thomas began reading from a yellow legal sheet in a low voice.

″We are human tools, political pawns, political human sacrifices for the politicians″ he mumbled, referring to Florida’s 241 death row inmates. He accused Graham, who is running for the Senate, of ″politically executing human beings on death row to further his political career.″

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