"Innocent." Recently incarcerated capital punishment inmate on appeal
Johnny Winfield - Missouri DR
EXECUTED - Earl Wesley Berry - Mississippi Death Row - Scheduled Execution
Start : Wednesday 21 May 2008, 22:00
End : Wednesday 21 May 2008, 22:00
Earl Wesley Berry will be executed by lethal injection in Mississippi on May 21, 2008
Victims: Mary Bounds
The Crime: Berry was convicted and sentenced to death by a Chickasaw County jury for the November 29, 1987 murder of Mary Bounds. The victim was kidnapped and beaten to death after leaving her weekly church choir practice, and her body was found just off a Chickasaw County road near Houston, Mississippi. Berry admitted to the killing, and the confession was used against him at trial. He had admitted that he intended to commit rape but had changed his mind. He also changed his mind after telling her she would be freed and drove her to a second wooded location and used his fists to beat her to death. The victim died as a result of repeated blows to the head.
Berry used his grandmother’s car and later drove to her house, disposed of a pair of mismatched tennis shoes along the way, burned his bloodied clothes, and wiped the vehicle he had used of any blood stains with a towel, which he threw into a nearby pond. Berry’s brother, who was at the house, witnessed some of this suspicious behavior. On December 5, 1987, he called investigators and told them what he had observed. The next day, Berry was arrested at his grandmother’s home and soon confessed to the crime.
Police found the tennis shoes that Berry had discarded and also recovered the bloodied towel from the pond. Berry was indicted for the murder and kidnapping of Mary Bounds, and as a habitual criminal on March 1, 1988.
News:PARCHMAN, Miss. -- Two members of Mary Bounds family will witness the execution of her killer Wednesday night.
Bounds was beaten to death in 1987 by Earl Wesley Berry in Houston, Miss. Bounds' daughter, Jena Watson, and granddaughter, Rebecca Haywood, will witness his execution, which is scheduled to happen at 6 p.m. at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.
Berry has requested that his brothers also witness his execution, but they have decided against it.
In all, 34 Bounds family members will be at Parchman for the execution.
Wednesday afternoon Berry was visited by several family members, including his mother Velma Berry, sister-in-law Stacey Berry, brother Gregory Berry and friends Mable Forbus and Sherri Valdez.
Berry's attorneys have appealed his execution to Justice Antonin Scalia. If Scalia turns it down, his decision could be appealed to the full court.
There was no word from the Supreme Court by late Wednesday afternoon.
Berry's lawyers say he is mentally retarded and therefore constitutionally barred from being executed. His would be the second execution by lethal injection in the country since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Kentucky's procedure in April. Before the decision, executions had been on hold across the nation for more than seven months.
Amnesty International said in a statement Wednesday that it felt there was "significant evidence that Earl Wesley Berry may have mental retardation" and called on the Mississippi governor to halt the execution.
Gov. Haley Barbour said Monday that he won't grant clemency to the convicted murderer.
According to the MDOC correctional officers that are posted outside his cell, Berry was in a talkative mood Wednesday.
MDOC officials said for breakfast Berry ate two bisquits, sausage, rice and coffee. For lunch, he ate a chicken patty riblet, cabbage, sweet potatoes, a roll and juice. source: http://www.wapt.com/news/16353743/detail.html
A lethal cocktail of drugs was injected into Berry's arm while his victim's daughter and granddaughter, corrections officials and members of the media watched. No one from his family was present.
Berry was pronounced dead at 6:15 p.m.
Just hours before his execution, Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps described Berry as somber and serious, realizing his death was imminent and giving up hope that the U.S. Supreme Court was going to grant either of his last-minute appeals.
"I used to be his case manager. So, I've been knowing him for a while," Epps said. "He's pretty serious now. He's not grinning like he was in October."
The U.S. Supreme Court denied both Berry's appeals of his execution earlier this afternoon.
Berry, 49, was convicted in 1988 of beating 56-year-old Mary Bounds to death and leaving her body in a wooded area of Chickasaw County in 1987.
Epps said he stood in front Berry's cell this afternoon and said, "Inmate Berry do you have any remorse for what you did to Mrs. Bounds?
"He said he had no remorse and felt that after 21 years he had paid for it," Epps continued. "He understood the question and that was the answer he gave."
Berry finished his last meal about 4:35 p.m. and was given a sedative. He elected not to take his last shower and has not made any phone calls today. However, his mother, brother, sister-in-law and two friends visited him earlier today.
In October, when Berry originally was scheduled to die by lethal injection, his execution was halted at the last minute.
Berry said today "he is 99.9 percent sure he will be executed," Epps said.
Berry's attorneys have argued that Berry should have been spared because he is mentally retarded and because Mississippi's lethal injection process is cruel.
Earlier today, Daryl Neely, policy adviser for Gov. Haley Barbour, read Berry the governor's letter denying a stay of execution.
"I find no justification to grant your clemency," a portion of the letter said. Berry "visibly shook" and was close to tears, Neely said.
Berry had said he did not want any of his family members to witness his execution, but he later changed his mind, Epps said.
His brothers, William Wallace Berry and Daniel Ross Berry, were approved to view the death, though they declined to do so.
"It appears there will not be anybody there from the inmate's family," Epps said.
Roughly 40 members of Bounds' family also will be at Parchman, though only two were to witness the execution: Bounds' daughter and granddaughter.
Following Berry's execution, his body was to be released to Wise Funeral Home in Eupora.
Half a dozen anti-death penalty and one pro-death penalty activist were at Parchman today.
Tom O'Flaherty, a former defense attorney from Iowa City, Iowa, said he came out to speak against state-ordered executions partly because he doubts the judicial system's infallibility.
"People are represented by lawyers, and they make mistakes. Judges and juries make mistakes," he said. "None of us can know for sure if a person deserves that penalty."
Several yards away, Ann Pace of Jackson stood alone with a sign bearing pictures of her daughter who was killed by a man named Derrick Todd Lee in 2002. Charlotte Murray Pace was 22.
Her mother described her four years, so far, of waiting for Lee's execution as "hideous." While she said Lee's death may not bring closure, she thinks it may bring peace.
"I have this constant awareness of him breathing air, visiting with his family, doing all those things that he denied so many people, that he denied my daughter," Pace said. "(Once he is dead), he will not be at my table. He will not be in my head. Then, it will be all about Murray and not about him."
Last Meal:pork chops and barbecue pork sausage, buttered toast with salad (heavy on the onions), mashed potatoes and gravy, pecan pie and some sort of juice.
Final Statement:Convicted killer Earl Wesley Berry uttered his last words — "no comment" — just minutes before he was pronounced dead at 6:15 p.m. today at Parchman.
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