- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 29, 2002

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) Napoleon Beazley, whose death sentence for a murder committed at 17 stirred national debate over capital punishment for youths, was executed by lethal injection last night after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to spare his life.
Beazley, now 25, was convicted of killing the father of a federal judge during a 1994 carjacking. He repeatedly expressed remorse for shooting John Luttig, 63, while trying to steal the man's Mercedes.
When asked by the warden if he had a final statement, Beazley looked toward Suzanne Luttig, the victim's daughter, and said "no" before he was given a lethal injection.
In a signed one-page statement released after his death, Beazley said the act he committed was "not just heinous, it was senseless."
"But the person that committed that act is no longer here I am," he said.
He again apologized for the killing but said he was saddened the justice system would not give him a second chance. "No one wins tonight. No one gets closure. No one walks away victorious."
Texas is one of five states that allow the death penalty for crimes committed by 17-year-olds. Before yesterday, 18 inmates in the United States including 10 in Texas have been executed since 1976 for a murder committed when the killer was younger than 18.
In Austin, about 100 death penalty opponents rallied at the governor's mansion to protest Beazley's execution.
Earlier Tuesday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 10-7 against recommending that Beazley's sentence be commuted to life in prison, and 13-4 against a reprieve.
Beazley's lawyers made a last-ditch appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, renewing questions about his age and challenging the makeup of the all-white jury that convicted their black client. The court turned down the appeal, and Gov. Rick Perry denied his request for a 30-day reprieve.
"To delay his punishment would be to delay justice," Mr. Perry said.
Mr. Luttig was the father of J. Michael Luttig, a judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and former clerk or adviser to Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas, David Souter and Antonin Scalia. All three did not participate in high court rulings on Beazley's case.
At the time of the slaying, Beazley was a popular student and athlete in Grapeland, where he had also been dealing drugs for several years. Prosecutors said he and two companions ambushed Mr. Luttig and his wife.
Beazley shot Mr. Luttig once, turned the gun on his wife but missed, then returned to the wounded man and fired again point-blank into Mr. Luttig's head. He stepped through a pool of blood to go through the man's pockets to get the car keys. Hitting a wall while driving away, he was forced to abandon the damaged vehicle.
The two companions received life in prison.


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