Oklahoma Executes Man: Steven Ray Thacker Says 'An Eternity In Heaven Is Mine'
Oklahoma executed a man on Tuesday convicted of murdering three people in three states over a 10-day span for one of the murders, the 1999 death of a woman whose credit cards he used to buy Christmas presents for his family, according to reports.
Steven Ray Thacker, 42, apologized to his victims' families and friends, several of whom saw the execution from an adjacent room at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, in his final statement. As Reuters notes, Thacker was the fifth person executed in the United States this year and the first in Oklahoma.
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"I don't deserve it, but as God has forgiven me, I hope you will forgive me for the pain I've caused," said Thacker while strapped to a hospital gurney. He then thanked his family and friends for their support, before adding: "An eternity in heaven is mine."
Thacker next winked at his stepfather, Donald Johnston, who only silently nodded back at him. As Thacker lay still with his eyes closed and his breathing stopped after two minutes. Oklahoma executed the man and he was pronounced dead at 6:10 p.m., CT, by lethal injection.
Thacker, a laid-off plumber's apprentice, was sentenced to be executed after being convicted of abducting 25-year-old Laci Dawn Hill from her home in Bixby, after going there pretending to look at a pool table she had advertised. Her body was found six days later at a cabin in Mayes County with signs of being raped and stabbed.
Thacker then fled Oklahoma, stole a car in Springfield, Mo., and broke into a Missouri home in Aldrich looking for money. However, when Forrest Reed Boyd, 24, arrived at his home mid-theft, Thacker stabbed him to death. As a result, Thacker received a life sentence in that case.
In the third murder, Thacker took Boyd's car and drove to Dyersburg, Tenn., where he killed Ray Patterson, 52, after Patterson arrived upon Thacker's call to help tow the car and discovered Thacker possessed stolen credit cards. A Tennessee court subsequently sentenced him to death for that murder.
Thacker was convicted of all three murders, and had been held in a Tennessee prison until his transfer last week to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester for his execution on Tuesday.
The Associated Press reports that just seven months before Thacker murdered Hill, he had completed a prison term in Florida for writing bad checks.
Marnie Reed, who described herself as Hill's best friend, read a statement after the execution on behalf of the Hill family.
"They say time heals all wounds, which I guess is true, but Laci's murder has left a huge scar to remind us all daily of what we have lost, what we will never have again," she said, adding that neither Thacker's apology nor his death could mitigate the loss. "It was time. Now we can truly celebrate and remember what an amazing person she really was."
While searching for Thacker in late 1999, the FBI said he had been recently laid off from his job as a plumber's apprentice. Thacker's father-in-law, Keith Roberson, told the Tulsa World newspaper, at the time the FBI was searching, that Thacker didn't have much money to spend on his family but suddenly seemed to have a lot of cash.
"We just can't believe how he sat here at Christmas with us and carried on like nothing happened," said Roberson.
Thacker waived his right to ask for clemency from the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board last month, one reason possibly being that he suffered from bipolar disorder but refused to stay on medication designed to curb his mood swings. Courts previously rejected his argument that he was bipolar and shouldn't be executed.
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