A parolee convicted of using coat hangers to strangle a 65-year-old mentally ill man during a burglary of the man's house was executed Thursday evening.
"You ain't got to worry about nothing," Elkie Lee Taylor told an aunt and a couple of friends from the death chamber gurney. "I am going home. I hope to see all of y'all one day. Lord have mercy on my soul."
Then he looked through another death chamber window where relatives of his victims were standing and told them, "Stay strong. It's bad to see a man get murdered for something he didn't do. But I am taking it like a man, like a warrior. I am going home to Jesus."
After telling the warden he was ready and as the lethal drugs began flowing, he said, "Don't forget to tell my daughter ..." and mumbled something that couldn't be understood. Nine minutes later, he was pronounced dead.
Hangers twisted around neck
Taylor, 46, was condemned for killing Otis Flake in 1993. Flake was found dead — sitting up against a bed, his feet and hands bound and hangers twisted around his neck — by a friend after Taylor and an accomplice were spotted earlier walking away from Flake's home near downtown Fort Worth.
Taylor was the 15th Texas inmate executed this year and the first of six scheduled for lethal injection this month in the nation's most active capital punishment state.
The execution came after the U.S. Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals turned down last-day appeals.
Flake's slaying came 11 days after an 87-year-old man was killed in a similar fashion, strangled with a coat hanger after he was struck in the head with a statue of the Virgin Mary during a home burglary seven blocks away. Taylor acknowledge he was involved in both burglaries but insisted a partner was responsible for he killings.
Evidence, however, showed Taylor had bragged to friends about wrapping a hanger around a man's neck and that "dead men can't talk."
"We won't be out there cheering," Renee Harris Toliver, Flake's niece, said of Taylor's execution. "We're Christian people. We'll be praying for him as they're taking his life. But not one of us will say he's not deserving of having his life taken."
Taylor was on parole at time of slaying
Taylor was arrested after he eluded police for more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) while behind the wheel of a stolen tractor-trailer cab, leading officers on a chase from Fort Worth to Waco. The wild pursuit ended with a state trooper shooting out the truck's tires but not before Taylor at one point tried to ram two police cars and run over two troopers standing on the side of the road.
Taylor, who declined to speak with reporters as his execution date neared, had been on parole about three months when Flake was found murdered. He'd been released after serving less than nine months of an eight-year prison term for burglary.
Authorities contended Taylor and an accomplice took jewelry, cash, a television and other items in the robbery at Flake's house so they could be sold to buy crack cocaine. Prison records showed they got $16 for the loot.
His accomplice, Darryl Birdow, was sentenced in 1994 to life in prison for his involvement in Flake's death.
Two more executions are scheduled for next week.
George Whitaker III, 36, was to die Wednesday for the shooting death of Kiki Carrier, the sister of his ex-girlfriend, at her home outside Crosby in Harris County, east of Houston. A 5-year-old girl was one of two others wounded in the attack.
Then the following day, Nov. 13, Denard Manns, 42, faced execution for the 1998 fatal shooting of Christine Robson, 26, at her apartment in Killeen. Robson was a Fort Hood soldier living off the base.