Man Executed in Louisiana for Killing Wife's Stepfather
May. 16, 1995
ANGOLA, La. (AP) _ A man who killed his wife's stepfather just after being released from jail for molesting his daughter went to his execution quietly today.
Thomas Lee Ward's long white beard covered his chest as he lay on the gurney. He took a couple of deep breaths before the chemicals dripped into his veins.
``I am leaving the world at peace with myself and with the Almighty,'' Ward, 59, wrote in a final statement. ``I feel remorse for the things that I did. I hope that young people today will learn that violence is not an answer. I hope that the legal system learns that lesson, too. The death penalty is not a solution.''
In June 1983, Ward had just been released from jail in California, where he had served 60 days for molesting his 10-year-old daughter, when he went to New Orleans to see his children and his estranged wife, Linda. They were living with Mrs. Ward's mother and stepfather, Lydia and Wilbert Spencer.
Ward admitted shooting the Spencers after the stepfather blocked him from taking his children to New York. Mrs. Spencer recovered.
Ward's lawyers argued there was no premeditation, robbery or other circumstances to warrant capital punishment, and that jurors were influenced by the molestation charges when they sentenced him. Appeals were rejected Monday by the state Pardon Board, federal appeals courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ward testified at his trial that when he first had sex with his wife, she was 11 years old and the daughter of a woman he was living with. They married when she was 18.
Ward's execution was the 22nd in the nation this year, and the 279th since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.