death penalty news—–TEXAS

June 2


Texan who claimed to kill 5 from family is executed

A self-described "non-caring monster" who took responsibility for killing
5 relatives was executed Tuesday evening for the slayings of his 2

"I am sorry for what I've done and for all the pain and suffering my
actions caused," Terry Lee Hankins said from the death chamber gurney, his
voice wavering. "Jesus is Lord. All glory to God."

11 minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow, he was pronounced dead at
6:19 p.m. CDT.

Hankins, 34, surrendered at his girlfriend's Arlington apartment in 2001
after a 5-hour standoff with police who wanted him for gunning down his
estranged wife, Tammy, 34, and her children, Devin Galley, 12, and Ashley
Mason, 11. Hankins then told officers he'd also killed his father and
half-sister almost a year earlier.

"I believe he meant it," Ruthie Hedleston, who survived a beating by
Hankins, said after watching him die. Her ex-husband was Hankins good
friend and he lived with them for 2 years, she said.

"The reason I was there was to make the feeling I've had for 7 years go
away the fear of him," she said. "He has haunted me for 7 years.

"I believed him that he's sorry but that doesn't mean I can forgive him
for what he did."

Appeals to the courts to halt the execution were exhausted and the Texas
Board of Pardons and Paroles refused a clemency petition from Hankins, a
former auto mechanic.

"To be honest, with his record and the crimes he committed, I don't think
there are very many juries, much less very many people on the Board of
Pardons and Paroles, that are going to be swayed toward commutation or a
life sentence," said William Harris, Hankins' appeals lawyer.

Hankins admission about killing his father, Earnie Lee Hankins, 55, and
half-sister, Pearl "Sissy" Stevenstar, 20, led to the gruesome discovery
of their remains.

Police went to the elder Hankins' mobile home and found he'd been shot to
death. His body was left for 10 months in a recliner, surrounded by air
fresheners. Stevenstar was found stuffed into a plastic ice chest hidden
in a car at Earnie Hankins' auto repair shop. She'd been fatally beaten
with a jack stand. Court documents later would show Stevenstar was the
mother of Terry Hankins child and was pregnant again by him.

"When you think about what he did, when you sit and really think about it,
it was really horrible," said Sheila Wynn, the assistant Tarrant County
district attorney who prosecuted Hankins for capital murder. "It was one
of those cases, the more you learned, it was all bad."

Before his arrest, Hankins had told people he'd sent Stevenstar to a home
for pregnant mentally challenged women and that his father had moved out
of state.

He did not testify at his trial, but police found a note Hankins wrote on
a bank envelope.

"I guess to sum it all up, I'm guilty of murder, incest, hatred, fraud,
theft, jealousy, envy," he wrote.

In a diary recovered by officers, Hankins wrote he had become a
"non-caring monster" and rambled about his troubled childhood with a
divorced inattentive father and 2 stepmothers who molested him and taught
him sex acts.

"I just didn't like myself," he wrote.

Tammy Hankins' mother became worried when her daughter didn't report for
work at an Arlington Burger King she managed and her children failed to
show up at school. She went to her daughter's mobile home in Mansfield,
about 20 miles southeast of Fort Worth, and found the victims. Each had
been shot in the head with a .45-caliber pistol.

Police immediately suspected Terry Hankins because they repeatedly had
been summoned to the home in recent months for domestic disturbances,
fighting, and breaking and entering.

Hankins was tried only for the deaths of his 2 stepchildren.

Hankins was the 16th condemned prisoner executed this year in Texas, the
nation's most active death penalty state. The lethal injection also was
the 200th during the tenure of Gov. Rick Perry, a milestone denounced by
capital punishment opponents.

Death penalty opponents planned protests to mark the 200th execution
during Perry's administration. About 3 dozen people gathered near the
prison, about double the usual number. Hankins' execution was 439th since
Texas resumed carrying out capital punishment in 1982.

Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle said the governor, "like most Texans,"
believed capital punishment was appropriate "for those who commit the most
heinous crimes."

Hankins becomes the 30th condemned individual to be put to death this year
in the USA and the 1166th overall since the nation resumed executions on
January 17, 1977.

At least 5 other Texas inmates have execution dates in coming weeks.
Scheduled to die next, on July 16, is Kenneth Mosley for the 1997 shooting
death of a Dallas-area police officer during a bank robbery.

Hankins was the 16th condemned prisoner executed this year in Texas, the
nation's most active death penalty state. The lethal injection also was
the 200th during the tenure of Gov. Rick Perry, a milestone denounced by
capital punishment opponents.

(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)