Local News

Gov. Easley Denies Clemency In Landmark Execution

Posted December 1, 2005 10:18 a.m. EST

— A man who killed his wife and father-in-law awaited lethal injection Thursday evening in the nation's 1,000th execution since capital punishment resumed in 1977.

Gov. Mike Easley denied the clemency request for clemency filed by Kenneth Lee Boyd after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his last pending legal Thursday evening. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Boyd's other final appeal earlier in the day.

"Having carefully reviewed the facts and circumstances of these crimes and convictions, I find no compelling reason to grant clemency and overturn the unanimous jury verdicts affirmed by the state and federal courts," Easley said.

Boyd, 57, was set to die at 2 a.m. Friday.

  • He spent his last hours Thursday visiting family and eating his final meal -- a strip steak, baked potato with sour cream, green salad with ranch dressing, a roll with butter and a Pepsi.

    As of 9 p.m., two sons who watched Boyd gun down their mother and her father had not yet visited their father as expected.

    "He would love to live and he would love to have the governor and the courts step in, but he's also facing the possibility that won't happen," said Boyd's lawyer, Thomas Maher, earlier Thursday.

    Boyd's four grown sons had not met face-to-face with their father since he was sent to death row more than a decade ago. Two of those sons were present in 1988 when he shot and killed their mother and her father in a rage.

    "He made one mistake and now it's costing him his life," said son Kenneth Smith, 35, who visited with his wife and two children. "A lot of people get a second chance. I think he deserves a second chance."

    Boyd did not deny that he shot and killed Julie Curry Boyd, 36, and her father, 57-year-old Thomas Dillard Curry in rural Rockingham County near the Virginia line. Family members have said Boyd stalked his estranged wife after they separated following 13 stormy years of marriage and once sent a son to her house with a bullet and a note saying the ammunition was intended for her.

    Boyd's son Christopher was pinned under his mother's body as he fired a .357-Magnum pistol into her. The boy pushed his way under a nearby bed to escape the barrage. Another son grabbed the pistol while Boyd tried to reload.

    The evidence, said prosecutor Belinda Foster, clearly supported a death sentence.

    "He rode around with the boys in the car, saying I'm going to go and kill everybody up there," Foster said. "He went out and reloaded and came back and called 911 and said 'I've shot my wife and her father, come on and get me.' And then we heard more gunshots. It was on the 911 tape."

    Smith's wife planned to witness the execution, as did two other family members of the victims whose relationship was not immediately clear. Maher, a small group of law enforcement officials and journalists also planned to watch through the thick, twin glass panes between the viewing room and the stark death chamber.

    The execution would be the 1,000th in the U.S. since 1976 when the Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment. Execution No. 1,001 is scheduled for Friday night at 6 p.m., when South Carolina plans to put Shawn Humphries to death for the 1994 murder of a store clerk.

    Boyd told The Associated Press in a prison interview that he wanted no part of that infamous distinction.

    "I'd hate to be remembered as that," Boyd said Wednesday. "I don't like the idea of being picked as a number."

    Larger-than-normal crowds of protesters gathered in Raleigh, where officials at Central Prison beefed up security outside the facility.

    About 120 people gathered at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church for an interfaith prayer service Thursday night, where they sang hymns and listened to Maher talk about Boyd's case. Afterward, they walked from the church to the prison, carrying candles and anti-death penalty signs.

    "For what Kenneth is going through, for what his family is going through, for what the people he killed went through, it's the least I can do," said Steve Harvey, 37, of Raleigh.

    In Easley's nearly five years as North Carolina governor, 22 other inmates have been executed. He has granted clemency twice -- one case suffered from lost evidence; in the other, the defense claimed jurors were racially biased against a black man convicted of killing the husband of a white woman with whom he had been having an affair.

    In his clemency petition, Boyd's attorneys argued his experiences in Vietnam -- where as a bulldozer operator he was shot at by snipers daily -- contributed to his crimes.

    Boyd called the death penalty "nothing but revenge."

    "I feel like I should be in prison for the rest of my life," he said. "I never expect to get paroled out if I got off."

    Next Execution Slated For Jan. 20

    On the eve of the 1,000th execution in the nation, the state Department of Correction announced the next inmate in the state prison system to be executed.

    Perrie Dyon Simpson, 43, who is set to be executed Jan. 20 at Central Prison, was sentenced to death in 1993 for the 1984 slaying of the Rev. Jean Ernest Darter.

    According to court records, Simpson and his pregnant girlfriend went to Darter's home in Rockingham County saying they were hungry. He gave them $4, something to drink and some peaches and cake.

    The two returned the next night. They strangled Darter with a belt, which broke, then strangled him with another one. Simpson then hit Darter three times with a soft drink bottle and cut him with a razor blade, court records show.

    Testimony at his trial showed Simpson became a foster child at birth and was moved several times. A doctor testified that at the time of the murder, Simpson had the emotional age of a 12- to 14-year-old.

    Although Simpson knew right from wrong, he suffered from psychological problems that made him unable to stop his actions, a doctor said.

    Simpson would be the 40th person executed in North Carolina since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.

    A recent poll by the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers shows that 65 percent of voters favor a moratorium on the death penalty while it is studied to see if it is fairly applied. Support for the moratorium was widespread including 54 percent of Republicans and 76 percent of Democrats. About 600 voters were surveyed for the poll between Oct. 7 and Oct. 11.