The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

April 11, 2007

Denton County man executed for killing two

A Denton County man was executed Wednesday night for his part in the rape and murder of a 17-year-old high school honors student and the murder of her 16-year-old classmate, only days after he had been released on parole.

James Lee Clark, a 38 year-old white male, was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m., seven minutes after the lethal injection cocktail began to flow.

Clark had been paroled less than a week when he and fellow parolee James Brown were arrested in the murders of Shari Catherine Crews and Jesus Garza. Brown was convicted of robbery and sentenced to 20 years for the June 1993 incident.

When asked to make a final statement, Clark slightly chuckled and said: “Uh, I don’t know... Um, I don’t know what to say. I don’t know.”

Nealy a full minute passed before Clark turned to his side to see his father-in-law, Hugo Knobloch, and spiritual advisor, Irene Wilcox, peering through the glass in the viewing room.

“Oh, I didn’t know anybody was there,” Clark said just before coughing. “Howdy.”

Knobloch replied “howdy,” but it is unclear whether Clark heard him as he began coughing loudly and slipped into unconciousness.

“He didn’t know we were here,” Wilcox said to Knobloch after Clark was pronounced dead. “He didn’t act like he was scared.”

Clark, 38, was the 12th condemned prisoner executed this year in Texas, which has accounted for all but one of all the nation’s executions in 2007.

Attorneys went to the U.S. Supreme Court to try to block the lethal injection, arguing instructions to the jury that convicted him and decided he should die for the killing Crews may have been improper. Clark’s lawyer, James Rasmussen, also questioned the decision by Clark’s trial attorneys not to present evidence at the punishment phase of his trial.

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