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

  • Activists slam punishment of raped girl who had abortion

    World News CTV News
    JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Activists on Monday criticized a six-month prison sentence given to a 15-year-old Indonesian girl who had an abortion after being repeatedly raped by her brother. The district court in Muara Bulian in Jambi province also sentenced the girl's 18-year-old brother on Thursday to two years' imprisonment for having sex with a minor. Source
  • 'Storm before the calm': Iran dismisses Trump's threat to country's leader

    World News CBC News
    Iranians on Monday shrugged off the possibility that a bellicose exchange of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart could escalate into military conflict, but expressed growing concern America's stepped-up sanctions could damage their fragile economy. Source
  • Deadly L.A. market shooting started with domestic feud

    World News CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A man's feud with his grandmother turned into a bizarre and deadly confrontation that ended with a supermarket worker dead and dozens of people held hostage in a store kilometres away. Gene Evin Atkins, 28, was booked Sunday on suspicion of murder after an explosion of violence that a relative said may have been brewing for weeks. Source
  • North American International Auto Show to be held in June starting 2020

    World News CBC News
    Organizers of the North American International Auto Show say that starting in 2020 the annual Detroit event will take place in June instead of January. A statement from the show Monday said the new schedule will enable automakers, industry suppliers and others to "deliver dynamic exhibits and experiential opportunities outside of the show's four walls" at downtown's Cobo Center. Source
  • Latest updates: 2 victims and gunman dead in Toronto shooting

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- The latest on a mass shooting in Toronto (all times local): 7:00 a.m. Ontario's police watchdog says a second person is dead after gunman shot 14 people in Toronto's Greektown neighbourhood. Source
  • Prominent S. Korea politician found dead in possible suicide

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of -- A prominent liberal South Korean politician embroiled in a corruption scandal was found dead on Monday, police said, in what appeared to be one of the country's highest-profile suicides in recent years. Source
  • Survivors of duck-boat sinking join hundreds at Missouri memorial

    World News CBC News
    The 17 people killed when a tourist boat sank in a Missouri lake were remembered Sunday during a service attended by hundreds of people in the tourism community of Branson. A church bell at Williams Chapel at College of the Ozarks chimed 17 times for those who died Thursday at Table Rock Lake. Source
  • Archeologists dig up history of men lost to Spanish Flu in Matapédia, Que.

    Canada News CBC News
    For more than 40 years, amateur historian Roger Delaunais has been taking care of a remote grave site in rural Matapédia in the Gaspé region. Delaunais wrote a book about the camp, where 100 years ago, nine lumberjacks died of the Spanish flu during the First World War. Source
  • Three suspects arrested in U.K. acid attack on 3-year-old boy

    World News CTV News
    LONDON - British police have arrested three more suspects in connection with an apparent acid attack on a 3-year-old boy who suffered severe burns. West Mercia Police said Monday that three men, ages 22, 25 and 26, are being questioned in London on suspicion of conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm. Source
  • 'A lot more vigorous': Paralyzed Humboldt Bronco in Calgary to work with new physio

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY - Paralyzed Humboldt Broncos player Ryan Straschnitzki is drenched in sweat after a workout that more closely resembled military boot camp than physiotherapy. The 19-year-old's two-hour routine at Synaptic: Spinal Cord Injury and Neuro Rehabilitation Centre in Calgary included chin ups, boxing, heavy rope training and pulling himself into a full standing position from his wheelchair just with the use of his arms. Source