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Men Executed in Nebraska, Virginia, Indiana

July 18, 1996

A man convicted of killing a police sergeant was executed by lethal injection in Indiana early Thursday, hours after a man who pleaded guilty to killing his male lover then said police had badgered him into the plea was executed by the same method in Virginia.

Earlier Wednesday, a former Boy Scout leader who murdered two boys in 1983 was executed in Nebraska’s electric chair.

In Indiana, Tommie Smith was pronounced dead at 1:23 a.m. CDT. Convicted of killing an Indianapolis police officer, Smith claimed he only fired in self-defense.

Sgt. Jack Ohrberg had come to his house in 1980 to serve an arrest warrant for another man. That man, Gregory Resnover, was executed in 1994 for his role in Ohrberg’s killing.

Smith, 42, who had burglary and robbery convictions in the 1970s, admitted firing a shot at the officer, but said he mistakenly believed Ohrberg was an intruder and denied police accounts that he shot the wounded officer as he lay on the porch.

In Virginia, Joseph John Savino III was pronounced dead at 11:22 p.m. EDT, said Tammy Brown, a spokeswoman at the Greensville Correctional Center.

Savino, 37, initially pleaded guilty to bludgeoning Thos McWaters at their Bedford County home. Later, he argued that police had badgered him into confessing even though he repeatedly asked for a lawyer, and that he was high on cocaine at the time of the murder.

Savino moved in with McWaters in 1988 when he was paroled to Virginia after serving six years in a New York prison for robbery. Savino had known McWaters, 64, for seven years and worked for his construction firm.

Savino said in an interview this week that McWaters supported him and gave him money but also hounded him for sex.


In Nebraska, former airman John Joubert apologized for his crimes just before he was executed in the electric chair early Wednesday.

``I do not know if my death will change anything or if it will bring anyone any peace,″ said Joubert, 33. He mouthed ``I love you″ and made a gentle kissing gesture toward his girlfriend after being strapped in the chair.

Joubert repeatedly stabbed and slashed Danny Jo Eberle, 13, and Christopher Walden, 12, near Offut Air Force Base, where he was stationed. He also was convicted of stabbing and strangling a boy in Maine.

The killings 13 years ago kept the Omaha area in fear for three months. Joubert was caught after he tried unsuccessfully to abduct a preschool teacher, who then noted the license plate number of Joubert’s car. Joubert confessed later that day.

In explaining the murders, he told the Omaha World-Herald last month: ``It was the power and the domination and seeing the fear. That was more exciting than actually causing the harm.″

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