- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 25, 2003

HUNTSVILLE, Texas, Feb. 25 (UPI) — A Texas death row inmate was executed Tuesday for stabbing a paralyzed woman to death in a 1997 contract killing in Houston.

Richard Williams, 33, was pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m. after receiving a lethal injection for the murder of Jeanette Williams, 44. He was hired by a couple to kill the Williams so they could collect a $25,000 insurance policy.

In his final statement, Williams apologized to the victim's family.

"We came a long way through the tragedy — from hate to love and I would like to apologize for the pain I have caused all my families on both sides," he said.

Three of the victim's brothers were witnesses.

Williams execution came a few hours after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his request for a stay of execution so he could argue that he was mentally retarded. In an historic decision last June the high court outlawed the execution of mentally retarded.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected a similar request from Williams late Monday.

During Williams' trial, an educational diagnostician testified for the prosecution that Williams was not mentally retarded. She said he scored a 93 on an IQ test when he was 6 years old.

A bill currently being considered by the Texas Legislature would classify defendants with an IQ of 70 or below as mentally retarded.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, at least five Texas death row inmates have won stays so courts could examine whether they are mentally retarded. Last week, Greg VanAlstyne received a last-minute stay so courts could review his mental condition.

The decision in Atkins vs. Virginia was believed to be the court's most significant ruling on the death penalty in 25 years. At the time there were 20 states that allowed the execution of the mentally retarded.

In his confession, Williams said Bruce and Michelle Gilmore offered him $12,000 to kill their friend, Jeanette Williams. He was not related to the target.

The Gilmores wanted to collect a $25,000 life insurance policy that they had taken out on their friend. They are serving life sentences for the crime.

Williams was the ninth convicted killer executed in Texas this year and the 298th since the state restored the death penalty in 1982.

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