Texas Executes Eighth Man of 2012

Robert Wayne Harris, who was convicted of killing five people at a car wash in Irving, was executed by Texas after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to stay his execution.
Sat September 22, 2012 12:47 am
“I’m going home. I’m going home. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be alright. God bless, and the Texas Rangers, Texas Rangers," were the last words of Robert Harris, a forty-year-old man put to death by the state of Texas Thursday night for the 2000 murders of former co-workers at an Irving car wash.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined a request to stay Harris's execution two hours before he was put to death. His lawyers had argued that he had a low IQ and that qualified black potential jurors were improperly blocked from serving on the jury.

As usual, Michael Graczyk of the Associated Press witnessed the execution. He gave this account of Harris's crimes:

Harris had served an eight-year sentence for burglary and other offenses and had been working at the car wash for about 10 months when he was fired and arrested after exposing himself to a female customer. The following Monday he showed up before the business was to open, demanded the safe be opened and then shot the manager, the assistant who had fired Harris and a cashier.

Three more employees reporting to work also were shot, two of them fatally. When another worker arrived, Harris explained he just had stumbled upon the bloody scene. But when Harris pulled a knife, the worker said he was feeling uneasy and left. The worker called 911, and Harris was arrested the next day. 

Evidence showed Harris had used money taken from the safe to buy new clothes, checked into a motel and asked a friend to buy him some gold jewelry.

Harris was pronounced dead at 6:43 p.m. Thursday night. His brother and three friends watched the execution from viewing area outside the death chamber in Huntsville, according to Graczyk.

Greg Davis, the lead prosecutor on the case, told Graczyk that Harris's guilt "is just crystal clear." “He knew from experience that they would not have deposited the weekend proceeds, and he was going to get the maximum amount of money that he possibly could obtain during this robbery,” Davis said.

Graczyk reported that Harris was reluctant to be interviewed ahead of his execution: "Harris declined to speak from prison with reporters as Thursday’s execution date neared. A few weeks ago, he went to a prison visiting area for a TV interview, but changed his mind and crawled under a shelf in a tiny interview cage. Officers had to remove him."

Harris was the 246th person executed under Governor Rick Perry's watch and the 485th that Texas has put to death since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, according to Jordan Smith of the Austin Chronicle .

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