Texas executes its first inmate of 2016

HUNTSVILLE, Texas - A Texas man put to death Wednesday for a killing 15 years ago became the busy death penalty state's first prisoner executed in 2016.

See Full Article

Richard Masterson, 43, was pronounced dead at 6:53 p.m., 25 minutes after the lethal injection began.

"I'm all right with this," he said. "Sometimes you have to live and die by the choices you make. I made mine and I'm paying for it."

He said he was being sent "to a better place."

He mouthed a kiss to relatives and friends who were watching the execution through a window and told them he loved them. As the pentobarbital took effect, he began snoring. After about a dozen snores, he stopped moving.

Masterson had claimed the January 2001 strangulation of Darin Shane Honeycutt was accidental and had several appeals before the courts, including four with the U.S. Supreme Court. His last-day efforts to stop his execution were rejected.

Texas is the nation's busiest death penalty state, having carried out 13 lethal injections in 2015, which accounted for nearly half of the 28 executions nationwide.

Masterson had testified at his trial that the death of the 35-year-old Honeycutt in Houston happened accidentally during a chokehold that was part of a sex act. The two had met at a bar and then went to Honeycutt's apartment.

Honeycutt was an entertainer who performed dressed as a woman. Honeycutt's stage name was Brandi Houston.

No family members or friends of Honeycutt witnessed Masterson being executed.

Court records showed Masterson confessed to police, told others about the killing and acknowledged Honeycutt was slain on purpose in a letter to the Texas attorney general in 2012.

"I meant to kill him," Masterson wrote to then-Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is now the state's governor. "It was no accident."

Evidence showed Masterson stole Honeycutt's car, dumped it in Georgia, and was arrested at a Florida mobile home park more than a week later with another stolen car. That car belonged to a Tampa, Florida, man who testified he was robbed by Masterson but survived a similar sex episode where he was choked.

Masterson's attorneys argued Honeycutt's death was accidental or the result of a heart attack, that a Harris County medical examiner whose credentials have been questioned was wrong to tell jurors it was a strangulation, that Masterson's earlier lawyers were deficient and that his prolonged drug use and then withdrawal while in jail contributed to his "suicide by confession" when he spoke to police and in the letter to Abbott.

Lawyers also contended trial jurors were given an incomplete instruction before their deliberations and that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Masterson his rights to due process and access to the courts by refusing their challenge to a new state law that keeps secret the identity of the provider of pentobarbital that Texas prison officials use for lethal injections.

State lawyers argued that Masterson's attorneys offered no scientific evidence about Honeycutt's death that hadn't been previously raised and rejected, including by jurors at Masterson's 2002 trial. Federal courts had no jurisdiction in the execution drug secrecy because it was a state matter, they contended.

Masterson had a long drug history and criminal record beginning at age 15. Court documents showed he ignored advice from lawyers at his trial for the killing and insisted on telling jurors he met Honeycutt at a bar and they went to Honeycutt's Houston apartment where Masterson said the chokehold was part of an autoerotic sex act.

Honeycutt's body was found Jan. 27, 2001, after friends became worried when he failed to show up for work.

Masterson also told jurors he was a future danger - an element they had to agree with in order to decide a death sentence was appropriate.

Masterson's case recently drew the attention of Pope Francis, who has reinforced the Catholic Church's opposition to capital punishment.

At least eight other Texas death row inmates have executions scheduled for the coming months, including one set for next week.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Red-suited SantaCon pub crawl revelers fan out across NYC [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — Red-suited revelers fanned out across New York City’s bars Saturday despite efforts by a community group to deter the annual pub crawl known as SantaCon. Fliers that claimed SantaCon had been cancelled went up in some neighbourhoods in Manhattan and Brooklyn as the holiday bacchanal approached. Source
  • Mountie sues, alleges PTSD from exposure to child porn in sex offences unit

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- An RCMP officer has filed a lawsuit alleging he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after being exposed to a "significant volume" of child pornography while working in a specialized unit. Const. Michael Wardrope says he was exposed to disturbing videos, photographs, interviews and interrogations as a member of the child abuse and sexual offence unit in Surrey, B.C. Source
  • Police link many of province's 130 ATM heists to just two gangs

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Alberta RCMP commanding officer Marianne Ryan credits data-driven policing for linking a series of seemingly random ATM thefts to organized crime. “It's providing a compass for police to go out and track it down,” said Ryan, adding, “that is a tremendous resource. Source
  • Ice bombs force Alex Fraser Bridge in Vancouver to close 

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    If you thought the snow was done, think again. Snow, ice and rain continued to snarl travel plans on Saturday throughout Metro Vancouver and is expected to cause further challenges next week as temperatures drop and wet roads begin to freeze. Source
  • Bristol Palin announces she is expecting her third child

    World News Toronto Sun
    Bristol Palin is expecting her third child, she tells Entertainment Tonight. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s daughter announced her pregnancy on ET. She and husband Dakota Meyer said they are excited and “blessed” to welcome a baby in the spring. Source
  • Dylann Roof told FBI he wanted to kill blacks because he believed they rape white women daily

    World News Toronto Sun
    CHARLESTON, S.C. — Dylann Roof hesitated for about 20 seconds when an FBI agent asked him what he was doing on the night nine black church members were killed during Bible study. “Uh, I did it,” Roof said in a video recording played for the public for the first time Friday at his death penalty trial. Source
  • Small plane crashes near Levis, Que.

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    LEVIS, Que. — The Transportation Safety Board says a small plane with two people aboard has crashed in a river south of Quebec City. The condition of those aboard has not been released. Board spokesman Chris Krepski says the two-seater Grumman AA-1 went down near Levis, Que. Source
  • 2 explosions outside Istanbul soccer stadium; At least 20 cops injured

    World News Toronto Sun
    ISTANBUL — Two explosions struck Saturday night outside a major soccer stadium in Istanbul after fans had gone home, an attack that wounded at least 20 police officers, Turkish authorities said. One of the blasts was thought to be a car bomb and the second appeared to have been caused by a suicide bomber. Source
  • Trump cheered by fans at annual Army-Navy game

    World News CTV News
    BALTIMORE -- Donald Trump was greeted with cheers on his arrival at the annual Army-Navy game on Saturday, basking in the one of the nation's most storied football rivalries as he prepares to enter the White House. Source
  • Dylann Roof's confession and journal detail racist beliefs

    World News CTV News
    CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Prosecutors are using the Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof's own words to portray him as a cruel angry racist at his death penalty trial. Roof's two-hour confession to killing nine people at a church Bible study, recorded the day after the shooting, was introduced as evidence Friday, along with a handwritten journal found in his car. Source