[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----INDIANA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Apr 21 02:25:50 CDT 2005
Benefiel executed by lethal injection
A man convicted in 1987 for murdering and raping a Terre Haute teen was
executed early Thursday.
Bill Benefiel Jr., 48, died of chemical injection at 12:35 a.m. at the
Indiana State Prison. He was convicted of holding 18-year-old Delores
Wells captive for 12 days before killing her on Feb. 17, 1987. He also
held Alicia Elmore of Terre Haute captive for four months in the same
house and raped her more than 60 times. She survived and testified against
"Let's get this over with. Let's do it," Benefiel said before being
Benefiel spent a quiet day Wednesday watching television, and his only
visitor was his attorney, prison officials said.
Marge Hagan waited 18 years for the day her daughter's killer would be put
She had said prior to the execution: "He was there for her last breath and
I want to be there for his. I want to be as close as I can and know for
sure this monster is gone and he will never, ever again hurt anyone else
Benefiel agreed to not having an autopsy done and will be cremated, prison
officials said. Prison officials conduct autopsies on executed prisoners
so claims cannot be made that the prisoner was abused or died of something
other than chemical injection.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a request for a stay of
execution filed by Benefiel's attorneys, who argued that the trial judge
improperly limited mitigating factors the jury could consider during the
The high court declined in November to hear a separate appeal in the case.
About 25 people gathered outside the prison Wednesday night to protest the
execution. The demonstration started with a candlelight vigil with people
speaking against the death penalty, then they marched carrying signs in
front of the prison for about half an hour.
"Our hope is to bring awareness to the atrocities of executions," said the
Rev. Tom Mischler of St. Mary of the Lake in Gary. "In this case we want
to bring attention to the fact that the person being executed has a mental
Rick Richards brought his 7-year-old daughter to see the vigil.
"She was just curious about what was going on," Richards said. "She's
having a hard time grasping, 'Why are we doing this?"'
Gov. Mitch Daniels reviewed a clemency request from Benefiel's attorneys
and the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said,
but did not stop the execution.
Benefiel signed a waiver March 7 saying he did not want to ask for
clemency, but his lawyers asked Daniels to grant it anyway. He has been on
death row since November 1988, when he was sentenced to death by a Vigo
"Because Bill is very seriously mentally ill and has refused to
participate in other things, the courts have gone ahead and ruled on the
merits anyway so we asked the governor to consider that," attorney Marie
Donnelly had said.
Indiana law allows condemned inmates to invite 10 witnesses to view the
execution. Barry Nothstine, Indiana State Prison spokesman, said Benefiel
had invited just one witness. He would not identify that person, citing
Hagan said before the execution her biggest disappointment was that she
wouldn't witness the execution.
"I would like to see if he even has the slightest look of remorse. All he
ever did was smirk and laugh at us," she said. "I'd like to see if maybe
he's the least, little bit nervous. That maybe there's just a shadow of
fear in his eyes when he knows it must be over like there must have been
in my daughter's."
Benefiel becomes the 2nd person to be executed by the state of Indiana
this year. Donald Ray Wallace was put to death March 10 for killing a
family of 4 from Evansville in 1980. Benefiel is the 13th person executed
by the state since capital punishment was resumed there in 1981.
Benefiel becomes the 16th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
the USA and the 960th overall since America resumed executions on January
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin)
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