- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 6, 2003

HUNTSVILLE, Texas, Feb. 6 (UPI) — A member of a gang that terrorized gays in an east Texas town was executed Thursday for the abduction and murder of a 23-year-old man nine years ago.

Henry Dunn Jr., 28, was one of three men who abducted Nicolas West from a park, tortured him, and then shot him to death at Tyler. Dunn was pronounced dead at 6:15 p.m. CST after receiving a lethal injection.

In his final statement from the death chamber gurney, Dunn told members of his family that he loved them and asked the family of West to forgive him.

Dunn condemned the Texas justice system and called for a moratorium on executions in a written statement he had prepared for release by prison officials.

"When the officials of any state, such as the state of Texas, has so much confidence in their justice system, mistakes will be made, and innocent people will be executed," he wrote. "Texas has executed innocent people, and tonight, Texas has shown just how broke and unfair its system is."

The U.S. Supreme Court late Thursday turned down Dunn's latest request for a stay and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected his bid for clemency earlier in the week.

Dunn, Donald Aldrich and David McMillan had been terrorizing gay men in a hate crime spree when they abducted and attacked West on Nov. 30, 1993.

West was abducted from Bergfeld Park in Tyler, taken to a gravel pit outside of town, shot nine times, and then left to die, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said Dunn fired the last shot into the victim's head and that shot was the one presumed to have killed West, a medical records clerk in Tyler.

The slaying drew national attention to Tyler in 1993, with mass demonstrations by gay rights groups at the park where West was abducted.

In an interview with the Tyler Morning Telegraph, Dunn denied targeting West because of his sexual preference and refused to take responsibility for West's murder.

"I didn't even know him," Dunn shrugged nonchalantly. "I didn't pick him up. I'm sad it happened but I still don't think I'm responsible for the actual shot that killed him. I never got that close. Nicolas West was still alive at the time we left."

Dunn made headlines again in 1998 when he and six other condemned killers escaped from death row in Huntsville. Dunn and five others were captured, but a seventh inmate escaped and died in nearby swampland.

Because of that escape, the Texas death row was moved to another prison at Livingston, although executions are still carried out at the Walls Unit in Huntsville.

Aldrich, now 38, is on death row awaiting execution and McMillan, 26, is serving a life sentence for aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping.

Dunn was the eighth convicted killer executed in Texas this year and the 297th since the state restored the death penalty in 1982.

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