updated 9/28/2005 4:14:51 AM ET 2005-09-28T08:14:51

A man who beat his ex-wife to death with an unloaded shotgun during an eight-hour furlough from prison was executed early Wednesday, hours after the governor denied his request for clemency.

Alan Matheney, 54, sentenced to death in 1990 for murdering 29-year-old Lisa Bianco, was executed by chemical injection and pronounced dead at 12:27 a.m. EST.

“I love my family and my children. I’m sorry for the pain I caused them,” Matheney said in his final statement, read by his attorney.

When granted the prison furlough, he had been serving an eight-year sentence for a 1987 assault on Bianco and confining their two children. Prosecutors said he drove to the South Bend suburb of Mishawaka, broke into Bianco’s home, chased her outside and beat her to death.

The murder came just months after images of Willie Horton, a murderer who committed a rape while on prison furlough in Massachusetts, helped derail Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis’ 1988 bid for the White House.

In Indiana, then-Gov. Evan Bayh suspended the state’s prison furlough program after Bianco’s murder. The program has since been reinstated, but with tighter restrictions.

The state also agreed to pay $900,000 to Bianco’s estate and the couple’s children, who were home at the time of the attack.

Bianco had divorced Matheney in 1985. She continued to fear her husband even after his incarceration and had gotten assurances from prison officials that she would be notified if he was ever released.

She was not notified of the furlough, however, and Matheney violated the terms of his pass and an earlier court order when he left central Indiana for her home.

Defense request denied
On Tuesday, Gov. Mitch Daniels denied defense lawyers’ request to consider blocking the execution on grounds he was mentally ill.

Millie Bianco, the victim’s mother, said although she believed Matheney deserved to be executed, she had mixed feelings about Daniels’ decision.

“This is a man who washed dishes in my kitchen and who could be charming, who loved his dog,” she told The Associated Press by telephone from her home in Lake Alfred, Fla.

About 20 death penalty opponents marched in front of the prison banging drums Tuesday evening to protest the execution.

It was the state’s fifth execution in 2005, the most in a single year in Indiana since the death penalty was reinstituted in 1977.

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