Beunka Adams was nineteen when he participated in a robbery-turned-murder at a Rusk convenience store. On Thursday, at age 29, the state of Texas executed Adams for his crimes. He was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m.
Adams used his last words to repent. “Everything that happened that night was wrong,” Adams said, staring at the ceiling of the death chamber, according to Michael Graczyk of the Associated Press. “If I could take it back, I would. … I messed up and can’t take that back.”
On Labor Day in 2002, Adams and Richard Cobb donned masks and walked into a convenience store in Rusk and announced they were robbing the store, Graczyk wrote. After grabbing the cash, the men abducted the store’s two female clerks, Nikki Ansley and Candace Driver, and a man, Kenneth Vandever.
They drove for 10 miles and then Adams forced one of the women inside of the trunk and raped the other. Then all three people were shot and left for dead. Vandever, 37, died of his wounds, but both women survived after one of them was able to seek help at a nearby house. (According a release from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Vandever was a “mentally challenged” man who helped out at the convenience store.)
“Testimony at Adams’ trial showed he gave the orders during the holdup and initiated the abductions,” Graczyk wrote. Cobb remains on death row.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Adams’s final appeal Thursday. A federal district judge in Texarkana granted Adams a reprieve on Monday, but that decision was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit after the Texas Attorney General’s office appealed.
Ansley held a news conference in Rusk on Tuesday after the Texarkana judge granted Adams a reprieve, according to the Cherokeean Herald, Rusk’s weekly newspaper. “We are still having to relieve the trial,” she said.
Ansley and her mother were in the death chamber Thursday night to witness Adams’s death: “He asked for forgiveness and I forgive him, but he had to pay the consequences,” she told Graczyk. “I help people in surgery,” Ansley, a nurse, said. “Standing in there, it was a feeling that I didn’t want to help him.”