After a nearly four-hour delay while waiting on final appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court, Terry Edwards was executed Thursday night for a robbery turned murder he claimed he did not commit.
The execution, set to begin after 6 p.m., was delayed while the Texas Department of Criminal Justice awaited final rulings from the high court on last-minute pleadings for a stay. When the final denial came at around 9:45 p.m., witnesses walked from the cold, pitch-black night into the death chamber. A bald, goateed Edwards was strapped to a gurney, staring straight at the ceiling, looking determined and resolved.
“I made my peace with God,” Edwards said when asked for a final statement. “I hope y’all find your peace in this.”
Just after he finished speaking, at 9:54 p.m., a lethal dose of pentobarbital was inserted into the IV dangling from the crook of his right elbow. Within a minute, he began to snore loudly, but almost as soon as it began it stopped suddenly. Within two minutes of being injected with the drug, all movement had ceased. A doctor came in about 20 minutes later, and Edwards was pronounced dead at 10:17 p.m.
Edwards, 43, was convicted and sentenced to death in 2003 for the July 2002 shooting deaths of Tommy Walker and Mickell Goodwin, two employees at a Subway restaurant in Balch Springs where Edwards’ used to work. He was fired for allegedly stealing money from the register a few months earlier, according to court records. Edwards has maintained that he was in the bathroom when the murders happened, that his cousin, Kirk, had killed the man and woman.
Edwards did not have any personal witnesses at the execution, but family members for both of the victims attended and watched his death stoically.
“Tonight is a time for us to remember Mickey and Tommy,” the families wrote in a prepared statement. “Though this chapter of our journey is now over, we will always feel the loss of them in our lives.”
This month, Edwards’ legal team filed a flurry of late appeals in local, state and federal courts. By Thursday morning, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had both denied the last round of petitions to stop the execution, but the final word from the U.S. Supreme Court did not arrive at TDCJ’s press office across the street from the death chamber until almost 10 p.m.
The appeals focused on multiple issues ranging from prosecutorial misconduct at Edwards’ trial to newly released evidence from the state that could place more weight in the theory that Kirk, not Terry, committed the murders, according to court briefs.
Dallas County and Texas claimed the filings were ineligible for review because there have already been several appeals in the past where these issues could have been raised.
In Texas, executions are set to begin anytime between 6 p.m. and midnight on the day the death warrant is issued for. Because the death warrant is only valid until midnight, if an appeal is still open around 11:30 p.m., the corrections department will call the execution off and it will be rescheduled, according to TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark. The U.S. Supreme Court made its decision just before 10 p.m.
During those nearly four hours of uncertainty, Edwards remained in his holding cell with a prison chaplain, and the family members of the murder victims waited nearby.
Edwards’ execution was Texas’ second of the year. The next is set for next week, and six more are scheduled through July. The department said it has enough pentobarbital, the drug used in executions, to proceed with all scheduled executions. Last year, Texas executed seven people, the fewest in 20 years.
The Texas Tribune provided this story.