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Serial killer executed with Texas' new drug supply

Texas Serial Killer Executed After Losing Supreme Court Appeal


By MICHAEL GRACZYK

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- A serial killer was put to death Thursday in Texas after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his lawyers' demand that the state release information about where it gets its lethal injection drug.

Tommy Lynn Sells, 49, was the first inmate to be injected with a dose of newly replenished pentobarbital that Texas prison officials obtained to replace an expired supply of the powerful sedative. When asked if he wanted to make a statement before his execution, Sells replied: "No."

As the drug began flowing into his arms inside the death chamber in Huntsville, Sells took a few breaths, his eyes closed and he began to snore. After less than a minute, he stopped moving. He was pronounced dead at 6:27 p.m. CDT - 13 minutes after being given the pentobarbital.

Terry Harris, whose 13-year-old daughter, Kaylene Harris, was fatally stabbed by Sells in 1999 in South Texas, watched as Sells was executed, saying the injection was "way more gentle than what he gave out."

"Basically, the dude just took a nap," the father told reporters later outside the prison.

The Supreme Court earlier in the day declined to halt the execution as Sells' attorneys sought more information from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice about the supplier of the new drug stock. State prison officials argued that the pharmacy must be kept secret to protect it from threats of violence.

Lawyers for Sells contended they needed to know the name of the pharmacy in order to verify the drug's quality and protect Sells from unconstitutional pain and suffering.

"My sister didn't get the constitutional pain and suffering," said Shawn Harris, the victim's brother, adding that Sells' punishment was "pretty easy" compared to what his sibling suffered: being stabbed 16 times and having her neck repeatedly slit.

A jury convicted Sells of capital murder in 2000 for the death of Kaylene Harris and slashing of her 10-year-old friend, Krystal Surles, who survived and helped police find Sells. The girls were attacked on New Year's Eve 1999 as they slept in the home of Kaylene Harris' family in Del Rio, about 150 miles west of San Antonio. The Harris family had befriended Sells at a community church.

Questions about the source of execution drugs have arisen in several states in recent months as numerous drugmakers - particularly in Europe, where opposition to capital punishment is strongest - have refused to sell their products if they will be used in executions.

That's led several state prison systems to compounding pharmacies, which are not as heavily regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as more conventional pharmacies.

A batch of pentobarbital that Texas purchased from a compounding pharmacy in suburban Houston expired at the end of March. The pharmacy refused to sell the state any more drugs, citing threats it received after its name was made public.

Texas found a new, undisclosed supplier.

Sells' execution was the fifth lethal injection this year in Texas, the nation's busiest state for the death penalty.

Court records show Sells claimed to have committed as many as 70 killings across the U.S.

In 2003, Sells was indicted but never tried for the slaying of 13-year-old Stephanie Mahaney in Missouri. He also pleaded guilty to capital murder in the 1999 death of 9-year-old Mary Bea Perez, who was strangled during an outdoor festival in Texas. Prosecutors waived the death penalty in exchange for the plea.

Among his other confessions was the slaying of an Illinois family in 1987. Those victims included Ruby Dardeen, who was eight months pregnant. Her fatal beating forced her to prematurely give birth. The newborn was killed along with her 3-year-old sibling.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

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albinvestor April 04 2014 at 10:00 AM

These people torture, mutilate and painfully murder innocent women and children. and the bleeding hearts say its "cruell" to kill them without pain. instead we feed them, take care of them better than we do our senior citizens. then after 25 or 30 years of appeals we put them to sleep (maybe).
how about slow public hangings, so our up and comming murders can see how it is to die.

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2 replies
KELLY WELLS albinvestor April 04 2014 at 10:05 AM

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

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mjlasee albinvestor April 04 2014 at 10:10 AM

We are supposed to be better than they are. Being humane is being humane, it is not picking situations where we want to be humane. Torturing and killing do not bring anybody back and just pulls us down to their level. I would certainly want to see harm come to someone who harmed anybody in my family, but this is the other side of the argument.

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Bob April 04 2014 at 10:17 AM

Before executing someone, it should be absolutely certain that the person is guilty. However, this guy got exactly what he deserved. The majority who are in favor of the death penalty in these cases need to speak up and let their voices be heard, because once again, liberals are going all out to try to take away freedom and impose their agenda on American society. If we want a just society, the death penalty must be preserved for murderers like Sells. These people do not have a right to life!

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pinkysmommy April 04 2014 at 10:19 AM

this guy is the lowest of the low...so glad he is burning in hell now...I read a book about him and the brutality of his crimes (killed a little boy in front of the mother while she watched, she was pregnant and beaten so badly she gave birth and he killed the newborn, then her) HELLO if this isn't a death penalty offense then what is? Too bad it took so long and too bad he DIDN'T feel any pain!

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dfrench254 April 04 2014 at 10:19 AM

This low life deserved to die. He took flight in less 15 minutes and that is selfproving that the drug was pure. If it was up to me I would inject him with Sulfuric Acid.

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Pat April 04 2014 at 10:20 AM

He should been sttabbed yo death!!!!!!!

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Laura April 04 2014 at 10:20 AM

Give me a break! This guy killed how many people??? They say it may be as high as 70, although he wasn't convicted of anywhere NEAR that many, Somehow, I don't think that ANY of his victims were given any consideration for THEIR "constitutional pain." While the death penalty doesn't bring back the victims, it does supposedly provide the loved ones of the victims some type of closure,
I think that lethal injection was far too lenient a punishment for this monster. Even a firing squad, electric chair and the guillotine are all too tame for he likes of this guy, I would favor live burial, dousing him in boiling hot oil, or slow starvation or the like. Personally, I'd combine ALL of them for Mr. Sells and that is STILL too tame. At least let the perpetrator get a taste of the terror he's inflicted upon his victims. Unfortunately, the way our laws are written, the criminal's rights take precedence over those of their victims and that is just wrong. If we’re going to keep the death penalty on the books, the laws need to be changed to protect the rights of the innocent victims. I'm afraid that until they do, we're going to see more and more outrageously asinine stories like this one.

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sco2260 April 04 2014 at 10:20 AM

He took a nap going to death. His murder victims died in cruel and unusual punishment and extreme pain. Despite this our looney left are oh so concerned that the poor murderer dies painless.

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jcp107 April 04 2014 at 10:20 AM

Does anyone really feel bad for this scumbag? It makes me sick when the lawyers for these monsters fight to keep them alive. This creep could care less about the innocent lives he took and how they suffered so, why should the state have any feelings for him? The article says, he closed his eyes and started snoring. He basically went to sleep which is a lot better then the cruelity his dished out to his victims.

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1 reply
Bob jcp107 April 04 2014 at 10:25 AM

You must understand that it is an income stream for these Attorneys sometimes as long as 20+ years.

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dogs4me21 April 04 2014 at 10:22 AM

who cares if the drug takes longer than expected to work. not everyone is the same and it would work differently on each person. I am so sick of these liberal ******** that want to preserve these evil people lives. they should not even be able to live out the time it takes to do their appeals. screw them. they had no cares in the world for the people they killed, why should we. wasted tax payers money.

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1 reply
Hilde dogs4me21 April 04 2014 at 10:36 AM

I am a bleeding hearts liberal, and also a taxpayer who does not want my money wasted, and so:
Shoot 'em trying to escape.

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Truwriter April 04 2014 at 10:22 AM

Death penalty opponents always want to make us think that one day events could justh happen and you could be convicted and on death row. Nothing could be further from the truth, you don't get there by accident. The cases are scrutinized incredibly and whenever you hear lawyers wanting to use the "troubled childhood" defense it is an attempt to excuse a life time of crime and violence. That we entertain legal actions that ponder the drug used to execute someone, its even more far fetched. This guy killed people, human beings who died in terror and pain from his actions. Adios dude, hope there is an after life and you do better there.

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