Richard Fairchild was executed today
A brutal child killer has become the third inmate executed in two days in the United States. On his 63rd birthday, ex-marine Richard Fairchild was given a lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary this morning.
“I’m at peace with God,” the killer said as he was strapped to a gurney inside the death chamber shortly after 10am. “Don’t grieve for me because I’m going home to meet my heavenly father.”
Later today Kenneth Smith, 57, below, could become the fourth death row inmate killed. He is due to receive a lethal injection in Alabama for the 1988 murder-for-hire slaying of a preacher’s wife.
On Wednesday, Stephen Barbee, 55, was executed in Texas for killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her seven-year-old son more than 17 years ago and 76-year-old Murray Hooper was executed in Arizona for the murder of two people 42 years ago.
The executions are the highest number in such a short period in recent memory and come as support for the death penalty is on the wane across the US.
Death penalty opponents said they delivered a “Happy Death Day” cake to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s office on Wednesday to protest Fairchild’s execution.
They argued that he was mentally ill and not competent to be executed.
“Clemency is dead in Oklahoma,” Sue Hosch, the Oklahoma coordinator for Death Penalty Action, said in a statement to Newsweek. “If a man who served his country as a US Marine with documented severe mental illness is not worthy of mercy, then no one is. Mark my words. This system will be changed.”
The former marine was sentenced to death for the torture slaying of his girlfriend’s three-year-old son in 1993. He was convicted of killing Adam Broomhall after the child wet the bed. Prosecutors say Fairchild held both sides of his body against a scorching furnace, then threw him into a table. The child never regained consciousness and died later that day.
“The method of Adam’s murder can only be described as torture,” prosecutors from the Oklahoma attorney general’s office wrote to the state’s Pardon and Parole Board, which voted 4-1 last month against recommending clemency for Fairchild.
From a budget of $25 (£21.76), he is known to have ordered a last meal of two quarter-pounder cheeseburgers, large chips, pumpkin pie, a pint of chocolate ice cream and a large Coke to drink.
Fairchild’s execution was the seventh since Oklahoma resumed carrying out the death penalty in October 2021. It was the 16th execution in the US this year, up from last year’s three-decade low of 11.
Later today, Alabama is due to execute Kenneth Eugene Smith, 57. He was one of two men who each paid $1,000 to kill Elizabeth Sennett on behalf of her husband, who was deeply in debt and wanted to collect on the insurance. She was found dead on March 18, 1988, in the couple’s home on Coon Dog Cemetery Road in Alabama’s Colbert County.
The coroner testified that the 45-year-old woman had been stabbed eight times in the chest and once on each side of the neck. Her husband, Charles Sennett Sr, who was the pastor of the Westside Church of Christ in Sheffield, killed himself one week after his wife’s death when the murder investigation started to focus on him, according to court documents.
On Wednesday, an Arizona man convicted of murdering two people in 1980 was put to death in the state’s third execution since officials resumed carrying out the death penalty in May after a nearly eight-year hiatus.
Murray Hooper, 76, above, received a lethal injection at the state prison in Florence for the killings of William “Pat” Redmond and his mother-in-law, Helen Phelps, at Redmond’s home in Phoenix. Redmond’s wife, Marilyn, was also shot in the head in the attack but survived and testified against Hooper at trial.
Authorities say the killings were carried out at the behest of a man who wanted to take over Redmond’s printing business.
Hooper’s death was announced by Frank Strada, a deputy director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry. It took more than 20 minutes from the time the execution team members walked into the room until they inserted IV lines in his right leg and right forearm to administer the sedative pentobarbital.
In Texas late on Wednesday, prison officials executed an inmate for killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her 7-year-old son more than 17 years ago after courts rejected his appeals over claims of religious freedom violations and indifference to his medical needs.
Stephen Barbee, 55, was given a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville. He was pronounced dead at 7:35 pm, 26 minutes after a fatal dose of pentobarbital began flowing into his body.
Barbee had been condemned for the February 2005 deaths of Lisa Underwood, 34, and her son Jayden. Both were suffocated at their home in Fort Worth. They were later found buried in a shallow grave in nearby Denton County.
Barbee confessed to the killings but later recanted and claimed the confession was coerced. He has since maintained his innocence saying he was framed by his business partner.
In his final statement, Barbee talked about his faith in God and hoped this would not be a sad moment for his family and friends. He did not mention Underwood or her son and did not look in the direction of his victims’ family and friends, who watched from a viewing room and locked arms with one another during the execution.
“I’m ready warden. Send me home,” Barbee said, as he cried. “I just want everyone to have peace in their hearts.”
On Monday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously declined to commute Barbee’s death sentence to a lesser penalty or to grant a four-month reprieve.
The executions come despite declining support in recent years for the death penalty across all political parties.
About 6 in 10 Americans favour the death penalty, according to the General Social Survey, a major trends survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago.
While a majority continue to express support for the death penalty, the share has declined steadily since the 1990s, when nearly three-quarters were in favour.