The “death chamber” at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit in Huntsville, Texas:There have been a total of 1,442 executions in the U.S., 538 of them in Texas, since 1976. (Dec. 9, 2016) :Image for representational purposes.
Texas carries out first US execution of 2017
Texas on Wednesday put to death an inmate convicted of killing two men over a phony drug deal, the first U.S. execution of 2017.
Christopher Wilkins, 48, was declared dead at 6:29 p.m., 13 minutes after a lethal injection of pentobarbital.
Before the drug was administered, he twice mouthed “I’m sorry,” to two relatives of one of the murder victims as they watched through a window. He gave no final statement.
Wilkins had explained to jurors at his capital murder trial in 2008 how and why he killed his friends in Fort Worth three years earlier, saying he didn’t care if they sentenced him to death.
Wilkins shot Willie Freeman, 40 and Mike Silva, 33, after Freeman and an unidentified drug supplier duped Wilkins into paying $20 for a piece of gravel he thought was crack cocaine, according to court records.
Freeman was killed on Oct. 28, 2005, after he laughed about the scam and Silva was shot because he was there, Wilkins said. Wilkins’ fingerprints were found in Silva’s wrecked SUV and a pentagram matching one of Wilkins’ numerous tattoos had been carved into the hood.
Wilkins also testified that the day before the shootings, he shot and killed another man, Gilbert Vallejo, 47, outside a Fort Worth bar in a dispute over a pay phone, and about a week later used a stolen car to try to run down two people because he believed one of them had taken his sunglasses.READ MORE