East Texas man executed for role in robbery-shooting - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

East Texas man executed for role in robbery-shooting

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) - An East Texas man was executed Thursday for his role in a 2002 robbery in which three people were shot, one fatally.

The lethal injection of Beunka Adams, 29, was carried out less than three hours after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-day appeal to postpone the punishment, the fifth this year in Texas.

Adams expressed love to his family and apologized to witnesses, including one of the women who survived the attack and relatives of the man who was killed.

He said he was a stupid kid in a man's body at the time of the crime.

"I'm very sorry. Everything that happened that night was wrong," Adams said. "If I could take it back, I would. Not a day goes by I wish I could take it back. ... I messed up and can't take that back."

He asked those gathered to not let any hate they had for him "eat you up."

"Find a way to get past ... I really hate things turned out the way they did. For everybody involved, I don't think any good came out of it."

Adams took about a dozen breaths, then began wheezing and snoring. Eventually, he became still. He was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m. CDT, nine minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow into his body.

His attorneys had asked the nation's highest court to halt the execution, review his case and let him pursue appeals claiming he had deficient legal help at his trial and during earlier stages of his appeals.

He won a reprieve from a federal district judge earlier this week, but the Texas attorney general's office appealed the ruling, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the death warrant Wednesday.

Adams was one of two East Texas men sent to death row for the slaying of Kenneth Vandever, 37. He was in a convenience store on Sept. 2, 2002, in Rusk, about 115 miles southeast of Dallas, when two men wearing masks and carrying a shotgun walked in and announced a holdup.

After robbing the store, Adams and Richard Cobb drove off with the two female clerks and Vandever in a car belonging to one of the women.

Testimony at Adams' trial showed he gave the orders during the holdup and initiated the abductions. They drove to a remote area about 10 miles away in Cherokee County, where Adams demanded Vandever and one woman get into the trunk of the car and then raped the other woman. Testimony also showed he forced all three to kneel as they were shot.

Vandever was fatally wounded. The women were kicked and shot again before Cobb and Adams, believing they were dead, fled. Both were alive, however, and one was able to run to a house to summon help.

Adams and Cobb were arrested several hours later in Jacksonville, about 25 miles to the north. Adams was identifiable because he had slipped off his mask after one of the women said she thought she knew him.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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