Wilkins execution in Texas first in United States in 2017

HUNTSVILLE, Texas, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- A man convicted of killing three men in 2005 was executed Wednesday in Texas after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to grant him a stay, making him the first death row inmate executed in the United States in 2017.

Christopher Wilkins was executed by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice just before 6:30 p.m. for killing the men.

Though he offered little remorse during his trial, and told jurors he did not care if he was given the death penalty or life in prison, Wilkins mouthed the words "I'm sorry" to family members observing his execution before receiving a lethal injection of pentobarbital.

"I haven't been any good to anybody for the last 20 years and I won't be for the next 20 or the 20 after that," Wilkins testified when asked during his trial if he wanted to die.

Wilkins admitted in 2005 to killing Willie Freeman and Mike Silva after he was tricked into paying $20 for a piece of gravel that he thought was crack cocaine.

After he bought the fake drugs, Wilkins told Freeman he had drugs and guns somewhere else in town. While the two, with Silva, were on their way to the stash that did not exist, Wilkins shot Freeman in the back of the head and Silva as he tried to get away.

During his sentencing, Wilkins said he'd killed another man the day before and almost killed two more people the next week using a stolen car as a weapon.

Although he later changed his mind about not caring whether he lived or died, allowing his attorneys to file appeals and make a case he'd received improper legal representation which did not attempt to factor in possible brain damage from multiple injuries.

To his credit, Wilkins was honest about his crimes and having a short temper that, when lost, led him to do awful things -- and refused to blame his actions on drugs. "I wouldn't put too much weight on that. When I get wound up, I have a fuse that is short. I don't think about what I am doing. I don't care," he told jurors.

His lawyer during the trial thought that by putting his straight-talking client on the stand it might help, but the idea backfired, not least because Wilkins wanted to plead guilty initially.

"I tend to want to take the easy way out," Wilkins told the court. "I make bad decisions. I know they're bad decisions when I'm making them. I make them anyway. I think subconsciously, I've been trying to kill myself or get myself killed since I was probably 12 or 13 years old."
Stephen Feller

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