Scott Hain executed for fatally burning two Tulsans
Friday, April 4th 2003, 12:00 am
News On 6
McALESTER, Okla. (AP) _ Almost to the end, the man who helped kill Delma Houghton's son dictated her days. She went to bed, though, assured Scott Allen Hain would be a worry no more.
Hain, 32, was executed Thursday night for helping to burn Michael Houghton and Houghton's co-worker, Laura Lee Sanders, alive in the trunk of a car 15 1/2 years ago. Hain was 17 at the time.
He had left his victims in their dying screams, but Hain had nothing to say just before he received a mix of heart-stopping drugs. He let out a final puff of breath and was pronounced dead at 8:39 p.m., just two hours after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a lower court's stay.
``It's been a long, long time,'' Mrs. Houghton said after watching the execution. ``And we've known from the very beginning that Scott Allen Hain was guilty of this horrible crime.''
After years of trials and hearings controlling their lives, the parents of Hain's victims were left in anxious limbo well into Thursday evening by Hain's final appeal.
He won a stay from a federal appeals court late Wednesday, and the hour of his scheduled 6 p.m. execution had passed when the Supreme Court acted on Oklahoma's request for intervention.
The 5-4 vote demonstrated the court's bitter division over capital punishment for people who commit crimes as juveniles. The United States is one of the few countries that allow such executions.
``Justice needed to be done, and that's all we've ever wanted,'' said Sanders' mother, Carol.
She also witnessed the execution, along with other family members and a Kansas woman who was assaulted in an earlier crime spree attributed to Hain and his co-defendant, Robert Lambert.
Hain and Lambert received death sentences for kidnapping Houghton, 27, and Sanders, 22, in 1987 from behind a Tulsa bar where the two restaurant co-workers had gone to meet friends.
The two were forced into the trunk of Sanders' car, which was taken to Creek County and set on fire.
Hain blamed his youth for his involvement in the crime and told the state parole board Monday that he acted under the control of Lambert, who was 21.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the stay on an appeal in which Hain's attorney, Steven Presson, argued that the government should have paid for Hain's representation at the clemency hearing.
Presson came to the execution and waved to Hain, who lay strapped to a gurney. Hain nodded in acknowledgment.
Asked if he had a last statement, Hain said ``No.'' He stared ahead as the execution began and died with his mouth and eyes half open.
``He died peacefully,'' Mrs. Sanders said, ``very much unlike what he did to Michael and Laura Lee.''
Members of both victims' families said they took no joy in seeing Hain's execution carried out. But they also said they were glad not to have to worry about him forcing them to court anymore.
``It will hopefully let us focus on how Michael and Laura Lee lived and not how they died,'' said Laura Lee's brother, Ernie.
Houghton's widow, Tena Houghton-Smith, said she thought she would be angry but instead, ``I'm just glad it's over.''
Lambert awaits execution for his role in the murders. He is seeking to have his death sentence vacated on a recent Supreme Court ruling that the mentally retarded cannot be executed.
``It's like having a hundred pounds that you've been carrying and now it's 50 and it's easier,'' Mrs. Sanders said. ``The pain is still there, but at least now we only have one to worry about.''