URGENT Convicted Killer Executed
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) _ A man who beat, slashed and burned a drive-in movie cashier to death was executed early Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court and the governor rejected last-minute appeals.
Randy Lynn Woolls, whose arms were tattooed with symbols of death and drug abuse, died by injection at 12:23 a.m., said Attorney General Jim Mattox.
″I’d like to say goodbye to my family, I love all of them,″ Woolls said just before the needle was inserted.
″I’d like to tell the people fighting against the death penalty to continue their work,″ he said. ″I’d like to say I’m sorry for the victim and the family and I wish there was something I could do to make it all right.″
Woolls, 36, blamed drugs for his repeated trouble with the law, including the 1979 slaying of Betty Stotts.
Woolls’ lawyer, George Scharman, took the case to the Supreme Court on Tuesday after the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected motions last week. Scharman challenged the exclusion of jurors opposed to the death penalty and claimed the jury failed to understand reasonable doubt.
The Supreme Court rejected the request for a stay by a 7-2 vote. Justices William J. Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, opponents of capital punishment in all circumstances, voted to spare Woolls.
After the Supreme Court ruling, Gov. Mark White rejected an appeal for a reprieve.
″I guess it’s showtime,″ Woolls said when assistant warden Robert Ott informed him of the Supreme Court ruling.
At midday, Woolls was taken by van the 15 miles from the Texas Department of Corrections Ellis Unit to the Walls Unit, which houses the death chamber.
″He appeared to be somewhat nervous,″ said prison spokesman Charles Brown.
Woolls ordered a final meal of two cheeseburgers, french fries and iced tea. He designated two of his cousins to witness the execution, Brown said.
Woolls, a ninth-grade dropout, said he was introduced to drugs about age 13. Drug use was responsible for each of his three prison sentences, he said.
″My whole complaint is that I’m being executed for a crime I can’t remember committing,″ he said. ″I was flipped out on drugs.″
He said he had injected himself at least 40 times with Valium stolen from a veterinary clinic before killing Mrs. Stotts.
″I don’t know what’s supposed to be done with me. I don’t know whether I deserve a life sentence. I feel death is a little severe for something that was a mistake,″ he said.
Mrs. Stotts, 44, was collecting ticket money at the Kerrville drive-in on June 16, 1979, when she was killed.
″They said I beat this woman down with a tire tool, cut her throat, then I piled everything in the booth on top of her and set it on fire,″ Woolls said.
″Then while this booth is on fire, I’m sitting there selling tickets to people coming into the show,″ he said. ″Then I get in her car and drive inside the show and am sitting inside the show in her car when the cops got there. It’s obvious I was out of my mind.″
Mrs. Stotts’ daughter, Deborah, said her mother was a deeply religious person who had a such a premonition of death that she left her husband and four children letters written just a few days before her slaying.
In the letters, found after her death, Mrs. Stotts told her family she would not always be with them in body, but would in spirit.
″In the beginning, I hated him, but that was something I had to overcome,″ Mrs. Stotts’ daughter said of Woolls. ″I knew my mother wouldn’t have wanted it that way. My mother taught me not to hate, and so now I don’t hate. I have pity for him.″