Texas Executes Inmate for Killing Elderly Man After Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case

July 9, 2020 Updated: July 9, 2020

A Texas inmate received a lethal injection Wednesday evening for the fatal shooting of an elderly man about 30 years ago, ending a monthslong delay of executions in the state due to the CCP virus pandemic.

Billy Joe Wardlow, the 45-year-old inmate, died in the Huntsville state penitentiary for the 1993 slaying of Carl Cole, who was 82, at his Cason home.

According to a CBS News reporter, the inmate declined to make a final statement. He nodded and smiled, mouthing words to friends who watched the scene through the window.

After that, Wardlow was administered a lethal dose of pentobarbital before he took several deep breaths, started snoring, and then all movement stopped. Wardlow was pronounced dead 24 minutes later at 6:52 p.m. local time the report said.

But Wardlow sent a statement to the parole board last month.

“I came to death row a scared boy who made poor choices; I will leave death row a man that others admire because I weathered the storms of life with the help of people that loved me,” Wardlow wrote, according to the Texas Tribune. “We should all be so fortunate.”

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to stop Warldow’s execution. His counsel had written (pdf) that “absent a stay, Mr. Wardlow will be executed despite a strong likelihood that he has been denied the protection of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.”

Previously, the inmate’s lawyers have argued that Wardlow wasn’t fully capable of understanding his actions when he shot and killed Cole, while he was in his truck, because he was only 18 at the time of the crime. Therefore, he shouldn’t face the death penalty, they said.

“The science really supports precluding the death penalty for anyone under 21 because brain development is still happening,” said Richard Burr, one of his lawyers, according to CBS.

Prosecutors said there was no problem with the execution, saying that 18 is the age in which childhood is separated from adulthood.

“Wardlow senselessly executed elderly Carl Cole to steal his truck, something that could have been taken without violence because the keys were in it,” the Texas attorney general’s office said in a document submitted to the Supreme Court.

Prosecutors at the time accused Wardlow and his girlfriend Tonya Fulfer of going to Cole’s house. Warlow shot the elderly man once during a struggle, and the couple fled the scene with Cole’s truck.

The two were arrested a day later in South Dakota after Wardlow swapped the truck for a 1987 Ford Mustang, and officials discovered a gun in the vehicle.

This year, six executions scheduled in Texas were postponed by courts due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic. Wardlow was the third inmate who was executed in the state, and he was seventh overall in the United States, reported The Associated Press.

Wardlow was found guilty of capital murder in 1995 and sentenced to death. Fulfer received 10 years’ probation, according to local media.

Reuters contributed to this report.