Oklahoma Executes Man for Killing Spree

Tuesday, July 1st 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) _ An Ohio man was executed Tuesday for killing a woman during a deadly multistate crime spree nine years ago.

Lewis Eugene Gilbert, 31, was pronounced dead at 7:11 p.m. after receiving a lethal mix of drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. His final statement was mostly inaudible, but he thanked God several times.

``This is weird, but I'm actually looking forward to seeing God. I'm coming home,'' Gilbert said.

Gilbert was executed for killing Roxanne Ruddell, and had been sentenced to death for murdering a Missouri couple. Authorities said he also confessed to an Ohio killing for which he was indicted but never tried.

Eddie Ruddell, who said he is still too upset to visit his wife's grave, said execution was the only appropriate punishment. ``She was a warm, caring person, loved everybody, did anything for anyone that asked,'' he said.

Prosecutors in Gilbert's Oklahoma trial said he and Eric Elliot started the 1994 spree by breaking into Ruth Lucille Loader's home in Ohio, tying her up, driving to the woods and shooting her in the head. Her body has never been found.

Gilbert and Elliot then drove Loader's car to Missouri, where they shot William and Flossie Brewer to death after knocking on their door and asking to use the telephone.

In Oklahoma, they ended up at a lake where Ruddell had gone fishing after her shift as a security guard ended.

Elliot tied Ruddell's hands and Gilbert shot her four times. They got away with her pickup truck and $2 or $3 before being arrested in New Mexico, authorities said.

Elliot is serving a life sentence without parole.

Gilbert's execution was delayed about an hour while an Oklahoma appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request for a stay.

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