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Witnesses to Garza Execution Hold Press Conference

Aired June 19, 2001 - 08:27   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: Convicted drug kingpin Juan Raul Garza has been put to death, in Terre Haute, Indiana.

We want to take you there now live. Witnesses to the execution are holding their news conferences, telling the public what they witnessed.

Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: ...one was yellow, one was gray, and one was transparent -- that were leading to underneath the sheet where he was. After he gave his last statement, the warden asked the marshal if they could proceed. The marshal picked up a red telephone and called the Justice Department and said may we proceed with the execution, waited, and said, thank you. And then said, Warden, you may proceed with the execution.

Garza blinked for awhile. His head lolled slightly to the left. He looked a little sleepy. And at 7:06, they said, the first drug has been administered.

At that point, from my observation, he kind of stopped blinking, and he just kind of stared. He was calm, didn't appear to be fighting it. He just looked a tiny bit drowsy, and his eyes remained open for the remainder of the time.

During this time, the marshal and the warden both stood with their arms clasped, just standing there. They told us, I guess, at 7:06, the first drug had been administered. At 7:07, they told us the second drug had been administered. At 7:08, they told us the third one had been administered. And then he was pronounced dead at 7:09 Central Daylight Time, as you've heard.

At the end, the warden said, Inmate Garza died at 7:09 Central Daylight Time. This concludes the execution.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm Karen Grunden from the "Tribune Star," here in Terre Haute, Indiana. And when we walked into the media witness room, the curtains were closed. There are two windows in that room, and a metal bar that comes out from the window area that prevents us from getting up right close to the window. It was a bluish green curtain. It opened at approximately 7:00 a.m. today. We saw Mr. Garza on the gurney. He had a white sheet draped on him, draped down to the floor, to about here. And there was a white sheet on the gurney underneath him as well. You could see that he was wearing a white T-shirt.

The warden did walk by our window right after the curtain had opened. And Mr. Garza seemed to look at someone, possibly, in this inmate witness room and give a nod before the drugs were administered, before he gave his final statement. He did look around a little bit, seemed to look at each of the rooms a bit, just to kind of gauge who was there, and was given his opportunity to make the final statement. You've already heard that.

The sentencing information was read by Warden Lappin, and it was three counts of intentional killing in a criminal conspiracy, I believe -- something to that effect.

His hair was graying a bit. He did blink a few times, and this was after the first drug, apparently, had already started. He looked again at the inmate witness room, and as he laid there, his eyes, at the end, did look towards the ceiling, but his head was tilted towards that inmate witness room so that he could kind of look in there.

He did swallow. His eyes became drowsy. There was not really a point at any time where you could actually say he died. There was no final breath that we noticed at all. Someone had said that his feet had moved. His eyes were still open, but his left eye seemed to droop more closed than the other one.

The time of death, as has been said, was 7:09.

MCEDWARDS: All right, you have been listening to witness accounts of the execution of Juan Raul Garza, convicted on three different drug-related murders. After an appeal to the Supreme Court and an appeal to President George Bush, he was put to death this morning, 7:09 a.m. local time.

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