Man executed for Oklahoma City killing

Wednesday, January 30th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma officials are preparing for the state's second execution in three days.

John Joseph Romano, 43, was executed Tuesday night for killing a man in Oklahoma City in 1985. His co-defendant, David Wayne Woodruff, is scheduled to die Thursday.

``For whoever I've wronged, I'd like for them to forgive me,'' Romano said from the gurney. ``I'd like to tell my family and friends I love you. Thanks for your love and support.''

He clenched his eyes shut, but the eyelids partially lifted as his face relaxed. Romano snorted three times, then gradually turned gray before he was pronounced dead at 9:12 p.m., five minutes after the injection began.

Romano and Woodward were sentenced to death in 1987 for killing Roger Sarfaty, 52, in Sarfaty's apartment. Sarfaty, who earned money dealing jewelry out of his home and his pocket, was stabbed in the heart and strangled.

His daughter, Twyla Alvarez, issued a statement Tuesday saying it was ``a great tragedy that my father did not live to expand the boundaries of his life, to meet and know his grandchildren.''

``He deserved all the opportunities that life offers us and Romano deserves severe punishment for his role in taking those opportunities away from him,'' she said.

Alvarez opposes the death penalty, but said she respects the judicial system in Oklahoma.

Romano also was sentenced to death for killing and robbing Lloyd Thompson, 63, a year after Sarfaty was killed. Thompson's brother, Eulys Thompson, said neither his brother nor Sarfaty deserved what happened.

``And both Romano and Woodruff deserve what they get,'' he said.

Two death penalty opponents began a public fast near the state Capitol on Tuesday. They set up a two-person tent at a makeshift campsite on a highway median, where they planned to fast until Thursday night on water, fruit juice and vegetable broth.

``We need to examine what's going on in the state,'' said Dr. Gary Conrad, an emergency room physician who is taking part in the fast.

A rally on the steps of the Capitol drew about 60 death penalty opponents who denounced state-sponsored executions. No protesters were visible at the penitentiary gates for Tuesday's execution.

Sarfaty was robbed of the rings he wore on almost every finger as a way of advertising his business. Also missing were the Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets filled with quarters that he kept on hand for guests at his poker games.

On the day Sarfaty died, Romano and Woodruff showed up drunk at a shopping mall and tried to buy a television set with pocketfuls of quarters. Woodruff, who was an acquaintance of the cashier, also had an injured hand and blood on his pants.

Mall security was called after the two became disorderly. They were arrested, taken to a detoxification center and released before Sarfaty's body was found four days after the killing.

He and Woodward did not become suspects until after they were arrested in Thompson's killing.

A neighbor saw the men leaving Thompson's apartment and reported the license plate of their car, which was registered to Romano's girlfriend.

Woodward was arrested days later in the line of an Oklahoma City drive-in bank and Romano was taken into custody in New Mexico.

Police said Romano and Woodruff once worked for a gambling operation and knew their victims as customers. Investigators said the two assumed the victims would carry large amounts of cash because of the bets they had placed.