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Virginia, Oklahoma Killers Executed

July 23, 2003

JARRATT, Va. (AP) _ A condemned man who raped and murdered a florist in 1997 was put to death Tuesday after Virginia’s governor declined to halt the execution a second time.

Meanwhile, an Oklahoma inmate convicted of murder in the shooting deaths of a man and his teenage son was also executed by injection Tuesday night.

In Virginia, Bobby Wayne Swisher was pronounced dead at the Greensville Correctional Center at 9:05 p.m.

``I hope you all can find the same peace in Jesus Christ as I have,″ Swisher said after he was led into the execution chamber and strapped to a gurney.

Swisher, 27, had exhausted his appeals. Last week, his lawyers asked Gov. Mark R. Warner to grant clemency, but the governor declined to intervene.

Swisher was originally scheduled for execution July 1, but Warner halted the execution just hours beforehand, granting Swisher’s lawyers’ request for a final appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court. The high court refused to hear that appeal last Thursday.

An Augusta County jury convicted Swisher of abducting 22-year-old Dawn Snyder from her flower shop, raping her, slitting her throat and dumping her in a river. It was Feb. 5, and Snyder was working late to complete Valentine’s Day orders.

DNA linked Swisher, a high school dropout and former construction worker, to the crime and he confessed to police.

Swisher’s trial lawyers argued that he was too high on drugs and alcohol to know what he was doing.

In Oklahoma, convicted killer Bryan Toles offered condolences to his victims’ relatives in his final statement at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

``I’d like to apologize to the victims’ family and ask them for their forgiveness,″ said Toles, 31, as he lay strapped to a gurney.

Toles also addressed members of his family and his spiritual adviser, who were witnesses at the execution. ``I love all y’all. Thanks for coming. Take care of my mother,″ he said.

Toles was convicted in the shooting deaths a decade ago of 39-year-old Juan Franceschi and his son, Lonnie. The father and son were shot after Toles forced his way into their home in an attempt to get the keys to the family car, prosecutors said.

Toles confessed, according to prosecutors. A co-defendant was also convicted on murder charges and sentenced to life in prison.

``I have forgiven Toles,″ Norma Franceschi, the wife and mother, who attended the execution. ``I’m nobody to judge nobody. I’m just grateful he said ’I’m sorry.‴

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