TEXAS. MAN EXECUTED AFTER 25 YEARS ON DEATH ROW
March 7, 2007: a man who spent 25 years on Texas death row was executed by lethal injection for a 1980 murder but only after prison officials had to carry him to the death chamber. Joseph Nichols, 45, was the second person in as many days and the eighth person put to death this year in Texas. The state leads the nation with 387 executions since 1982, when it reinstated the death penalty six years after the US Supreme Court lifted a capital punishment ban.
He refused to walk to the death chamber but did not put up a fight, a prison spokeswoman said.
In his last statement, he cursed prison staffers.
Nichols was convicted and sentenced to die for shooting Claude Shaffer during the robbery of a Houston food store on October 13, 1980.
An accomplice, Willie Williams, was executed on January 31, 1995, after pleading guilty to the crime. Lawyers for Nichols and death penalty opponents fought Nichols' executions on grounds that Shaffer had one bullet wound in his body, yet Houston prosecutors accused both Williams and Nichols in their separate trials of being the shooter.
The Texas Coalition to Abolish The Death Penalty accused state prosecutors of presenting false evidence and suppressing favourable witness testimony at trial. The case wound its way through the courts for years before Nichols' final appeal was rejected by the US Supreme Court shortly before he was executed. (Sources: News.com.au, 08/03/2007)