Texas Man Who Killed 5 Relatives Executed

A self-described "non-caring monster" who took responsibility for killing five relatives was executed Tuesday evening for the slayings of his two stepchildren.

"I am sorry for what I've done and for all the pain and suffering my actions caused," Terry Lee Hankins said from the death chamber gurney, his voice wavering. "Jesus is Lord. All glory to God."

Eleven minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow, he was pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m.

Hankins, 34, surrendered at his girlfriend's Arlington apartment in 2001 after a five-hour standoff with police who wanted him for gunning down his estranged wife, Tammy, 34, and her children, Devin Galley, 12, and Ashley Mason, 11. Hankins then told officers he'd also killed his father and half-sister almost a year earlier.

"I believe he meant it," Ruthie Hedleston, who survived a beating by Hankins, said after watching him die. Her ex-husband was Hankins' good friend and he lived with them for two years, she said.

"The reason I was there was to make the feeling I've had for seven years go away -- the fear of him," she said. "He has haunted me for seven years.

"I believed him that he's sorry but that doesn't mean I can forgive him for what he did."

Hankins was the 16th condemned prisoner executed this year in Texas, the nation's most active death penalty state. The lethal injection also was the 200th during the tenure of Gov. Rick Perry, a milestone denounced by capital punishment opponents.

Appeals to the courts to halt the execution were exhausted and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles refused a clemency petition from Hankins, a former auto mechanic.

"To be honest, with his record and the crimes he committed, I don't think there are very many juries, much less very many people on the Board of Pardons and Paroles, that are going to be swayed toward commutation or a life sentence," said William Harris, Hankins' appeals lawyer.

Hankins' admission about killing his father, Earnie Lee Hankins, 55, and half-sister, Pearl "Sissy" Stevenstar, 20, led to the gruesome discovery of their remains.

Police went to the elder Hankins' mobile home and found he'd been shot to death. His body was left for 10 months in a recliner, surrounded by air fresheners. Stevenstar was found stuffed into a plastic ice chest hidden in a car at Earnie Hankins' auto repair shop. She'd been fatally beaten with a jack stand. Court documents later would show Stevenstar was the mother of Terry Hankins' child and was pregnant again by him.

"When you think about what he did, when you sit and really think about it, it was really horrible," said Sheila Wynn, the assistant Tarrant County district attorney who prosecuted Hankins for capital murder. "It was one of those cases, the more you learned, it was all bad."

Before his arrest, Hankins had told people he'd sent Stevenstar to a home for pregnant mentally challenged women and that his father had moved out of state.

He did not testify at his trial, but police found a note Hankins wrote on a bank envelope.
  "I guess to sum it all up, I'm guilty of murder, incest, hatred, fraud, theft, jealousy, envy," he wrote.

In a diary recovered by officers, Hankins wrote he had become a "non-caring monster" and rambled about his troubled childhood with a divorced inattentive father and two stepmothers who molested him and taught him sex acts.

"I just didn't like myself," he wrote.

Tammy Hankins' mother became worried when her daughter didn't report for work at an Arlington Burger King she managed and her children failed to show up at school. She went to her daughter's mobile home in Mansfield, about 20 miles southeast of Fort Worth, and found the victims. Each had been shot in the head with a .45-caliber pistol.

Police immediately suspected Terry Hankins because they repeatedly had been summoned to the home in recent months for domestic disturbances, fighting, and breaking and entering.

Hankins was tried only for the deaths of his two stepchildren.

Death penalty opponents planned protests to mark the 200th execution during Perry's administration. About three dozen people gathered near the prison, about double the usual number. Hankins' execution was 439th since Texas resumed carrying out capital punishment in 1982.

Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle said the governor, "like most Texans," believed capital punishment was appropriate "for those who commit the most heinous crimes."

At least five other Texas inmates have execution dates in coming weeks. Scheduled to die next, on July 16, is Kenneth Mosley for the 1997 shooting death of a Dallas-area police officer during a bank robbery.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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