HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) - Proclaiming his innocence, condemned
prisoner Gregory Wright was executed Thursday evening for the fatal
stabbing and robbery of a Dallas-area woman who tried to help him
when he was homeless.
"There's been a lot of confusion who done this," Wright said
from the death chamber gurney.
Then, as he has for years, he declared a fellow homeless man,
John Adams, was responsible for the murder of Donna Vick.
"I never sold anything to anyone. My only act or involvement
was not telling on him. John Adams was the one that killed Donna
Vick. The evidence proves that. ... I was in the bathroom when he
attacked. I ran into the bedroom. By the time I came in, when I
tried to help her with first aid it was too late."
He said an innocent man was being put to death and said he loved
his family. "I'll be waiting on y'all. I am finished talking."
Nine minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow, he was
pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m. CDT.
Wright, 42, who grew up in northern Kentucky, was one two
homeless men convicted of killing Vick, 52, at her home in DeSoto,
just south of Dallas, in 1997. The woman was known for helping the
needy and had given Wright food, clothing and money after he said
she spotted him on a street corner holding a cardboard sign
offering to work for food.
He was the 14th Texas prisoner executed this year, the second
this week. Another six are set to die in November, including one
next week, in the nation's most active capital punishment state.
Wright was an out of work truck driver when he befriended Adams,
who also was homeless in Dallas. Adams was tried separately and
also was convicted and sentenced to death. He does not have an
"He could have been the hero in this if that was a true
story," Jerry Don Blanton, Vick's son, said after watching Wright
die. "I really think if there was any truth in what he said, he
could have probably stopped this.
"And if he wanted to protect his friend, all he had to do was
call 911 and get an ambulance out there."
Blanton said he thought both Wright and Adams were "very much
total participants in what happened that night, no doubt... We're
getting the same thing we've got since day one, each of them
blaming it on the other one."
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Wright less than an
hour before he was scheduled to be taken to the Texas death
chamber. Other federal courts had rejected similar appeals and the
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles also refused a clemency request
for Wright on a 7-0 vote Wednesday.
"The truth doesn't matter," Wright told The Associated Press
recently from a visiting cage outside death row, saying he was
stunned at the outcome of his 1998 trial in Dallas. "I couldn't
believe what was happening. I'm very upset at a number of different
people. I don't blame the legal system. I blame individuals running
the legal system. ... I am innocent."
Adams, who implicated Wright as the killer, earlier this year
recanted his statement against Wright. Then at a court hearing last
month, he reversed his recantation.
"The co-defendant has been a bit erratic," Meg Penrose, one of
Wright's lawyers, said Thursday.
She said she understood demands for an execution in the case
"but I thought justice demanded we executed the right person."
"I guess there's a difference of emphasis," Penrose said.
"I'd rather wait 30 years and make sure we have the proper
individual executed than wait 12 and hedge our bets. I don't like
the rush to review that we're at. A person who is innocent is
rushed to the gurney and is executed."
New DNA tests requested by Wright's lawyers, which put off
Wright's execution initially scheduled for last month, "on the
whole, confirmed Wright's guilt," state attorneys told the appeals
courts in their arguments. Penrose contended the tests were
At Wright's trial, jurors were told that after the killing, the
two men packed up items from inside the house, drove off in Vick's
car and traded the loot for crack cocaine.
A day and a half later, Adams turned himself in to police,
implicated Wright, directed officers to Vick's home and helped in
the recovery of her car. DNA tests of blood on the steering wheel
of the car was shown to belong to Wright. His bloody fingerprint
also was found on a pillowcase on her bed. Wright's lawyers
disputed the accuracy of the fingerprint evidence.
From death row, Wright refused to talk about specifics of the
crime, saying only that it stemmed from an argument between Vick
and Adams over Adams' smoking.
"This should have been finished long ago because there's no
question about his guilt and there should be no question about the
jury's verdict either," said Greg Davis, who prosecuted Wright.
"He and Adams had been living on the streets together. So what he
does, he talks his way into the victim's home and then he gets
Adams in there, too. Both them actually stabbed her to death."
Scheduled to die next is Elkie Taylor, 47, on Nov. 6. Taylor was
condemned for strangling a 65-year-old Fort Worth man in 1993 with
two wire coat hangers and then leading police on a four-hour chase
in a stolen 18-wheeler. Authorities said the robbery and murder of
Otis Flake at Flake's Fort Worth home was the second killing linked
to Taylor over an 11-day period.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)