The state of Missouri on Tuesday executed a man convicted of fatally stabbing his girlfriend and her 2-year-old daughter almost 15 years ago, a prison spokesman said.
Richard Strong, 48, was put to death by lethal injection at the state’s death chamber in Bonne Terre, Missouri, where he was pronounced dead at 6:58 p.m., said prison spokesman Mike O’Connell. Strong was the 16th inmate executed in the United States and the fourth in Missouri in 2015.
According to court records, Strong had dark red stains on the knees of his pants and was sweating profusely when police responded to a 911 call at his girlfriend’s home near St. Louis in October 2000.
An officer kicked in the door after seeing what appeared to be blood on Strong’s hand. Strong ran, repeatedly shouting: “Just shoot me” and then: “I killed them” when he was captured moments later, according to court papers.
Authorities found the bodies of Eva Washington and her daughter Zandrea Thomas, who had been stabbed nine and 21 times, respectively.
Strong’s 3-month-old daughter with Washington, Alyshia Strong, was unharmed. Alyshia Strong, now a teenager, asked Governor Jay Nixon to grant her father clemency, saying it would be wrong for her to suffer another loss.
Nixon rejected the request on Tuesday, saying in a statement that the killings of Washington and Thomas “were very brutal.”
The U.S. Supreme Court also denied requests to stay Strong’s execution on Tuesday.
Petrina Thomas, Zandrea Thomas’ aunt, witnessed the execution and thanked Missouri for providing her family with closure.
“For 14 years, we have impatiently waited for this day to come,” Thomas said in a statement. “It has been said that time heals all wounds. I do not agree; the wounds remain.”
Strong’s last meal was fried chicken, a cheeseburger and donuts, O’Connell said.
Strong addressed God in a final statement, saying “Jehovah-jireh, you’re my provider. Your grace is sufficient for me. Forgive me for my sin.”
Strong’s attorneys said in appeals to the Supreme Court that he had a history of mental illness and major depression and lacked the capacity to make a rational decision when he committed the killings.
They also sought a stay based on a case before the Supreme Court that challenges the use of a particular drug in lethal injections and have argued that Missouri’s execution method posed a substantial risk of causing severe and unacceptable pain and suffering.