A man convicted of gunning down a police officer during an attempted bank robbery put to death Thursday, the first execution of the year in the nation's busiest death penalty state.
Kenneth Mosley, 51, was condemned to death for the February 1997 slaying of David Moore, a police officer in Garland. His lethal injection was carried out after his legal appeals became exhausted.
Mosley was set for execution twice last year, but technical issues and court appeals stalled the punishment. Earlier this week, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied his request for clemency.
As the lethal drugs began taking effect, he snored a few times, then gasped slightly. Nine minutes later, at 6:16 p.m., he was pronounced dead.
Moore's widow was among the people in the chamber to watch Mosley die. He did not acknowledge her presence.
"This is a sad day," Sheila Moore said in a handwritten statement released after the execution. "While earthly justice was served, it does not change what happened 13 years ago."
"There will always be an empty place in our hearts for our husband, father and friend," she said.
Texas put 24 convicted killers to death last year, accounting for nearly half of the 52 executions carried out in the U.S. Another convicted killer was scheduled to be executed in Texas next week.
Moore, 32, was killed while responding to a 911 call about a bank robbery. The 10-year police veteran and father of three was shot four times after he approached Mosley, who was standing in line to get to a teller. A bank employee had called 911 after recognizing Mosley as the man who robbed it more than month earlier.
Mosley resisted Moore's request to speak with him and opened fire with a 9 mm pistol. One of four bullets to hit the officer struck over the top edge of his protective vest, killing him. Mosley was shot in the wrist by an officer outside and was arrested in the parking lot. Authorities found he was carrying a holdup note.
His lawyers argued at his capital murder trial that the shooting was accidental, saying the weapon went off five times as he was trying to surrender. Prosecutors had witnesses from inside the bank and a videotape of the attack to show to jurors.
Mosley declined to speak with reporters as his execution neared.
The Flint, Mich., native who grew up in rural Arkansas had an extensive criminal record he blamed on drug addiction. Evidence showed he had a record for sexually assaulting a woman and arrests for possession of marijuana, illegal knives and for stealing items from a Home Depot and then returning them for cash refunds.
At the time of the shooting, he was wanted for robbery at a fast-food restaurant five days earlier in nearby Mesquite. He had been fired from his last known job at a Coca-Cola bottler for testing positive for cocaine.
Garland Police Chief Mitch Bates, a lieutenant in 1997 who was the patrol supervisor and the officer who took Mosley into custody at the scene, said he had "no doubt that Mosley would have seriously injured or killed some other citizens and or police officers during his continued life of violent crime."
With the execution, "Justice will be served," he said.
About 30 officers from the Garland police force stood outside the Huntsville prison as the execution took place.
"It's not that I'm glad that I came, but I wouldn't have been able to sleep well if I hadn't come," William Cortez, a police captain and 31-year veteran of the department, said after watching Mosley die. "It's bittersweet. You're not anxious for something like that to happen ... but at the same time you know you need to be a part of it."
Cortez said the lethal injection "seemed just too easy of a punishment for what he did."
Next week, the state is set to execute Gary Johnson, 59, for the shooting deaths of two men, Peter Sparagana, 23, and James Hazelton, 28, who interrupted his burglary of a ranch near Huntsville in 1986.