Last moments of death row man
TO a background of prayers John "Jackie" Elliott prepared himself for death.As he lay strapped to a bed laid only with a linen sheet the sound of relatives praying aloud could be heard from behind a glass screen.
TO a background of prayers John "Jackie" Elliott prepared himself for death.
As he lay strapped to a bed laid only with a linen sheet the sound of relatives praying aloud could be heard from behind a glass screen.
Shortly after the lethal cocktail of drugs was administered at 1.02am GMT today the former Felixstowe man's life began to fade away.
Only minutes beforehand he had been led silently to the death chamber after a last meal of English Earl Grey tea and six American chocolate chip cookies – appropriately reflecting his dual heritage.
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After 16 years on death row in which he had constantly pleaded his innocence, Suffolk-born Elliott had no final dramatic statement to make.
Asked by warden Neill Hodges if he had any last words, he simply shook his head and whispered "No, sir".
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As a handful of journalists, members of his family, and the mother, father and sister of his victim watched, he was led silently to the bed where the lethal injection would be given.
He snorted three times, coughed and was silent as the lethal dose of chemicals was administered. He was pronounced dead at 1.09am.
Outside the Walls Unit prison at Hunstville, Texas, and at Westminster Abbey, London, supporters held candlelit vigils, upset at the failure of last-ditch attempts to have Elliott's case re-opened and DNA tests done which they claimed could have proved his innocence.
During the day lawyers acting for Elliott – convicted of raping and murdering 18-year-old Joyce Munguia – tried to gain a stay of execution.
But appeals to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the US Supreme Court failed. Texas governor Rick Perry did not intervene.
Elliott had always admitted being present while the teenager was gang-raped and beaten with a motorbike chain. He said: "Yes I did see her die, but it wasn't me that killed her."
Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer said it was a "sad day for American justice".
"No rational individual can be happy to see a person killed where so many questions remain unanswered," he said.
But not everyone shared the same view of Elliott, 42, who was born and lived until he was four at Felixstowe with his parents, Robert – who was stationed at USAF Bentwaters air base – and Dorothy.
After the execution, delayed by an hour by the appeals, Ms Munguia's family were still sure of Elliott's guilt.
"He was a coward in the beginning, and he was a coward in the end," said her sister Lillian.
Her mother Matilde Munguia added: "He committed the crime here, not in England. So what if they don't like the death roll. This was about justice . . . those people who are against the death penalty, good for them. But they've never walked in our shoes."
Elliott's execution was the seventh in Texas this year. The Texan authorities have never responded to foreign government appeals for clemency.