Texas man executed for beating death
A man convicted of fatally beating and shooting an East Texas man during a
burglary almost 12 years ago was executed Thursday, in a case that gained
notoriety because jurors may have consulted a Bible to justify his death
Khristian Oliver, 32, was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 6:18 p.m.
He told his victim's children, who watched through a window a few feet
away, that he wished them the best. After telling his parents, watching
through an adjacent window, that he loved them, he started reciting the
23rd Psalm, getting through several verses before the drugs took effect.
Oliver was condemned for the March 1998 slaying of 64-year-old Joe Collins
who interrupted the break-in at his rural home outside Nacogdoches, about
140 miles southeast of Dallas.
A witness to the attack on Collins, in which the then-20-year-old Oliver
beat and shot him with a rifle, compared it to someone getting bashed with
an ax or a golf club. Oliver's lawyers argued that jurors who improperly
brought Bibles with them into deliberations without the knowledge of the
trial judge in Nacogdoches County likened the rifle to a biblical iron
object. In Chapter 35 of Numbers, a murderer who uses an iron object to
kill "shall surely be put to death."
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said evidence was contradictory on
whether jurors consulted the Bible before or after deliberations and that
several jurors testified that the Bible "was not a focus of their
Oliver becomes the 20th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
Texas and the 443rd overall since the state resumed capital punishment on
December 7, 1982. Oliver becomes the 204th condemned inmate to be put to
death in Texas since Rick Perry became governor in 2001.
Oliver becomes the 43rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
the USA and the 1179th overall since the nation resumed executions on
January 17, 1977.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)