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A jury found Bible guilty of capital murder in June 2003 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence in May 2005.
In 2003, while Bible was being transported to Death Row in a prison van, the van was involved in an accident with another vehicle. Both drivers were killed, and Bible sustained severe injuries. Afterward, he had to use a wheelchair and had limited use of his arms. In his appeals, he claimed that these injuries prevented him from being a danger to anyone, thus invalidating the legal justification for his death sentence. The courts rejected this argument as not being founded on any existing law or precedent.
In the days leading up to Bible's execution, the courts rejected claims that his health problems would pose a "substantial risk" that the administration of a lethal injection would be botched. The health problems cited in the appeal were a lack of suitable injection sites on his body and severe tremors resulting from Parkinson's disease. His lawyers asserted that if Bible's execution were to be carried out, it should be done by a firing squad or by suffocating him with nitrogen.
By law, the only execution method permitted in Texas is lethal injection. Any changes in that law would have to be passed by the state legislature, which does not convene again until next year.
"His unique and severe medical conditions render lethal injection an intolerably cruel method of execution as applied to him," attorney Nadia Wood stated in her brief to the U.S. Supreme Court. His civil rights claim "should not be barred simply because Texas has not authorized an alternative method of execution."
Associated Press reporter Michael Graczyk observed that Bible's head shook slightly during the procedure, but the insertion of the IVs went without apparent complications.
Relatives of two of Bible's victims watched his execution from an observation room adjacent to the death chamber. Bible stared intently at them, but did not say anything to them. When the warden asked if he had a last statement, he replied "No, sir." The lethal injection was then started. As the lethal drug started to take effect, he muttered that it "hurt" and was "burning." He was pronounced dead at 6:32 p.m.
Of the 227 men and women currently on Texas' Death Row, six are there for murders committed in the 1970s. Willie Jenkins was arrested 36 years after his crime was committed. The other five were convicted within a few years of their crimes and have been on Death Row ever since.
By David Carson. Posted on 2 July 2018.
Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, court documents, Associated Press.