Just moments before succumbing to the effects of the lethal injection, James Lewis Jackson told the warden to “murder me” and referred to Harris County as Sodom and Gomorrah.

Jackson was convicted of the 1997 murders of his stepdaughters, Ericka Shauntae Mayes and Sonceria Messia Mayes, at their Houston home.

Jackson was distraught after their mother announced her plans to divorce him and strangled his stepdaughters after asking them how they felt about the impending split.

He also strangled their mother to death when she returned home and spurned his advances and pleas for reconciliation.

Jackson was all smiles as his friends entered the viewing room, chatting and looking rather upbeat considering what was about to take place.

They could be seen smiling and using sign language as Jackson gave his final words.

“Thank you to my family,” he said. “I love you. Each and every one of you.

“This is not the end, but the beginning of a new chapter for you and I, together forever. I’m ready to roll. Let’s get this party started.”

After sputtering his last breath, two of Jackson’s friends called him a “soldier.”

Seven minutes later, he was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m.

Jackson, 47, was the fourth convicted killer executed this year in Texas, the nation’s busiest capital punishment state.

The 6-foot-7 Jackson, known to fellow death row inmates as “Big Jack,” insisted he wasn’t responsible for the slayings of “Sonnie” Mayes, 19, and her sister, Ericka, 18, at the Harris County apartment they shared with Jackson and his wife, Sharon, 39.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month turned down Jackson’s request to review his case. Jackson’s lawyer, Kenneth Williams, said legal efforts to block the execution had been exhausted.

“I’m at peace with the situation,” Jackson said recently from death row. “I embrace the execution with open arms. I know if this is the only way I can be reunited with my family, I accept that.”

A friend of Sharon Jackson became concerned April 9, 1997, when the normally conscientious woman failed to pick her up for a drive to church. She called the woman’s sister, who went to the apartment and found the three bodies.

Jackson was on parole after serving about half of a 10-year sentence for using a shotgun to wound the elderly father of a former girlfriend in Dallas. He was arrested the next morning when he returned to the apartment.

Police found a handwritten note, signed by Jackson, in which he lamented how he had no job and couldn’t care for his wife and stepdaughters.

“I gave them back to God,” the note said. “He and they will understand.”

Jackson, however, insisted it was a prayer left weeks earlier in a Bible study folder.

“Everybody I talk to that’s a Christian, they understand,” Jackson said from death row. “You’re giving back to God. They just took it out of context.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” said Julian Ramirez, a Harris County assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case. “He had left the note at the crime scene. It was an open-and-shut case.”

Prosecutors said the note confirmed a confession Jackson gave to police in which he acknowledged strangling the three.

A jury believed the prosecution, convicted Jackson of capital murder after 30 minutes of deliberation, then decided he should be put to death.

In his confession, Jackson said he and his wife had been arguing for several days over his unemployment and that she intended to divorce him.

From death row, he said he was on the other side of Houston the day of the killings, was out all night “gambling and got high.”

When he returned home the next morning, police investigating the deaths took him into custody.

In the confession introduced into evidence, he said he killed Sonnie Mayes when she came home in the afternoon, then killed her sister about 30 minutes later when she arrived home.

He called his wife at work at the Harris County clerk’s office to pick her up, told her the girls were sleeping, then killed her when they got home.

Evidence showed he then pawned the woman’s sewing machine and used the money to buy drugs.

Jackson was the first of three Texas inmates set to die this month. Newton Anderson, 30, is scheduled to follow Jackson to the death chamber Feb. 22 for the 1999 slayings of a Tyler couple during a burglary of their home.

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