The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

February 21, 2013

Man who lit girlfriend on fire put to death

HUNTSVILLE — A Brazos County man who claimed his girlfriend’s death was a prank gone wrong was executed Thursday night, becoming the first inmate to be put to death in Texas this year.

Carl Blue, 48, was convicted of the murder of Carmen Richards-Sanders at her home in College Station in September 1994. He tossed a cup of gasoline on her and then set Richards-Sanders on fire.

Blue addressed the victim’s daughter, Terrella Richards, from the death chamber Thursday.

“I never meant to hurt your mama,” he said. “If I could change that, I would.”

Blue told his family he loved them and that he knew why he was being executed, even though he called it “crooked justice.”

“I did something wrong, and now I am paying the ultimate price,” he said.

The lethal dose began at 6:30 p.m. and Blue took several deep breaths and said “I feel it ... love ... love” before he lost consciousness. Blue’s mother, Joann Gooden, immediately broke into tears as she witnessed her son’s passing.

Blue was pronounced dead at 6:56 p.m., almost an hour after the United States Supreme Court rejected his final appeal.

Richards made a statement to the media following the execution. She was 7 years old when her mother was murdered and said that her “journey was over” Thursday.

“I can move on with my life,” she said.

Prosecutors said Blue walked seven miles from his home to a convenience store on Aug. 19, 1994 and had been drinking malt liquor and smoking crack behind the store when he bought 50 cents worth of gasoline he put in a “Big Gulp” cup. Court records said he waited outside Richards-Sanders’ apartment, then rushed in when she opened the door, telling her: “I told you I was going to get you.” He doused Richards-Sanders and ignited her.

Another man, Larence Williams, was at the apartment at the time of the attack. Blue threw what was left of the gasoline on Williams, setting him on fire.

Williams survived, but Richards-Sanders died of her burns at Herman Memorial Hospital in Houston on Sept. 7, 1994.

Blue turned himself into police hours after the attack, claiming it was a prank and Richards-Sanders death was accidental.

“When I went to knock, she snatched the door open and had a cigarette,” Blue told police in a tape-recorded statement played at his trial. “I wasted gas on both of them. And she caught on fire, and he caught on fire, and I took off running ... I was scared, man.”

Five years after his conviction, his death sentence was among about a half-dozen in Texas overturned by a federal judge who ruled it was improper for a former state prison psychologist to testify that the black man’s race could indicate a propensity for violence.

Blue again was sentenced to die at a second punishment trial in 2001.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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