IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

N.C. carries out nation’s 1,000th execution

Convicted killer Kenneth Lee Boyd was executed early Friday, becoming the 1000th prisoner put to death since the United States reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Kenneth Lee Boyd speaks from his cell in Raleigh, N.C., on Wednesday, two days before he was put to death. Gerry Broome / Ap / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A convicted murderer was put to death Friday in the nation’s 1,000th execution since capital punishment resumed in 1977.

Kenneth Lee Boyd, who was convicted of killing his estranged wife and father-in-law, received a lethal injection and was pronounced dead at 2:15 a.m.

“The execution of Kenneth Boyd has not made this a better or safer world,” his attorney Thomas Maher said. “If this 1,000th execution is a milestone, it’s a milestone we should all be ashamed of.”

In his final words, Boyd asked his daughter-in-law to take care of his son and grandchildren and said, “God bless everybody in here.”

His death came after both Gov. Mike Easley and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene and stop the execution.

About 150 protesters gathered at the prison in Raleigh, where prison officials tightened security. Police arrested 16 protesters late Thursday who sat down on the prison’s four-lane driveway, officials said.

Brutal slayings
Boyd, 57, did not deny that he shot and killed Julie Curry Boyd, 36, and her father, 57-year-old Thomas Dillard Curry. Family members said Boyd stalked his estranged wife after they separated following 13 stormy years of marriage and once sent a son to her house with a bullet and a threatening note.

During the 1988 slayings, Boyd’s son Christopher was pinned under his mother’s body as Boyd unloaded a .357-caliber Magnum into her. The boy pushed his way under a bed to escape the barrage. Another son grabbed the pistol while Boyd tried to reload.

The Supreme Court in 1976 ruled that capital punishment could resume after a 10-year moratorium. The first execution took place the following year, when Gary Gilmore went before a firing squad in Utah.

Boyd told The Associated Press in a prison interview that he wants no part of the infamous numerical distinction. “I’d hate to be remembered as that,” Boyd said Wednesday. “I don’t like the idea of being picked as a number.”

The 1,001st came Friday night, when South Carolina put Shawn Humphries to death for the 1994 murder of a store clerk.

In Boyd’s plea for clemency, his attorneys said he served in Vietnam where he was shot at by snipers daily, which contributed to his crimes.

'One mistake'
As the execution drew near, Boyd was visited by a son from a previous marriage, who was not present during the slayings.

“He made one mistake and now it’s costing him his life,” said Kenneth Smith, 35, who visited with his wife and two children. “A lot of people get a second chance. I think he deserves a second chance.”

In his final statement, Boyd spoke to Smith’s wife, asking her to “look after my son and my grandchildren.”

Smith’s wife witnessed the execution, along with Thomas Curry’s niece and her husband. Maher, a small group of law enforcement officials and journalists also watched through the thick, twin glass panes between the viewing room and the stark death chamber.