In September 2001, Keith Thurmond shot and killed his estranged wife and her new boyfriend as his eight-year-old son looked on. Tonight at 6 p.m., Texas plans to execute Thurmond for his crimes.
Thurmond was a 41-year-old often-unemployed mechanic with a ninth grade education and a history of domestic violence when he was arrested for the murders in Magnolia.
Sharon Anne Thurmond, a 32-year-old school cafeteria manager and waitress, obtained a protective order against her husband and moved in across the street with her boyfriend, Guy Sean Fernandez, 35. After a court granted Sharon Thurmond custody of their eight-year-old son, Thurmond lost control, telling a friend he was “very mad and was going to do something stupid,” according to Michael Graczyk, the Associated Press reporter who thoroughly chronicles every execution.
Thurmond donned a black karate outfit, grabbed his .45, and stormed across the street. He found Sharon in the backyard and peppered her with seven bullets. He then went into the mobile home, where he shot and beat Fernandez, Graczyk wrote. He was arrested following a two-hour stand off with police.
Thurmond’s son would later testify about watching his mother’s murder. “I think one of the things that hurt us was the murder took place in front of his son,” John MacDonald, Thurmond’s lead trial lawyer, told the AP. “And what hurt (Thurmond) also, he shot the wife a number of times.”
The Houston Chronicle‘s Harvey Rice wrote 1,500-word piece on the case a three weeks after the the murders, chronicling how Keith abused Sharon over the course of their seventeen-year relationship.
Thurmond later made headlines for poor post-conviction defense he received. In 2006, his lawyer was a day late in filing his federal appeal. But in 2009, the Fifth Circuit resuscitated his appeal, giving him another court hearing, the Houston Chronicle reported in 2009.
“Wednesday’s execution will be the 480th in Texas since 1982 and the 241st since Rick Perry became Governor. More than 50 percent of all executions in Texas in the modern era have been conducted under Rick Perry,” according to the Texas Moratorium Network’s blog.
The BBC noted that the price of lethal injection drugs has risen sharply since 2010, from $86 to $1,286. The sedative the state had been using, thiopental sodium, is no longer sold, so Texas had to switch to pentobarbital, which is considerably more expensive.