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Inmate Executed For Slaying He Said Was Ordered By Devil

December 12, 1995

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) _ A man was executed for stabbing and strangling a woman in what he claimed was a pact with the devil to kill her and drink her blood.

Esequel Banda, 31, who had fired his lawyer and refused appeals that may have spared him, died by injection Monday night. He had no final statement, saying only ``dizzy,″ as he stared at his wife who stood a few feet away along with his attorney.

In August 1986, Banda had been out of prison just 10 weeks when he raped, stabbed and strangled Merle Laird, a 74-year-old widow, at her home in Hamilton, about 50 miles west of Waco.

Banda was arrested after telling relatives he had committed a murder.

He told friends he stabbed the woman and then sucked the blood that was coming from her mouth because he had sold his soul to the devil, who had told him to kill six people, according to prison records.

Clay Laird said he blamed his mother’s death on federal Judge William Wayne Justice, who imposed population restrictions on crowded Texas prisons that enabled thousands of inmates, including Banda, to be freed early.

``The real killer wasn’t here tonight,″ Laird said moments after the execution. ``I will never forgive Mr. Justice. I could forgive Mr. Banda.″

Banda was convicted in 1983 of burglary and auto theft and given at least five years in prison. He was paroled in less than a year but returned to prison as a parole violator after only three months.

In May 1986, he was freed under mandatory supervision, meaning his prison time and so-called ``good time″ earned while locked up equaled his sentence and his release was required by law.

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