While Texas for the first time used one lethal drug instead of three for an execution, the result was still the same: Yokamon Hearn, 33, was declared dead 25 minutes after he received an injection of sedative pentobarbital, which had been part of the three-drug mixture since last year.
Several other states—Ohio, Arizona, Idaho and Washington—already use a single drug in their lethal injections, and this week Georgia said it would do so as well.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced last week that it would start using just one injection. The reason had nothing to do with any political or moral thinking—it was simply because the state had run out of its supply of one of the drugs, the muscle relaxant pancuronium bromide.
When it comes to lethal injections, Texas sets the national standard since it kills far more people than any other state by far—a total of 482 deaths since 1976.
Hearn was put to death for the 1998 murder of stockbroker Frank Meziere in Dallas. During the trial it was revealed that Meziere, of Plano, was cleaning his black convertible Mustang at a self-service car wash in Dallas when Hearn, then 19, and his friends approached. They forced Meziere at gunpoint into his own car and drove him to an industrial area in a south Dallas neighborhood, where he was shot 10 times in the head.
Hearn’s injection was witnessed by Meziere’s father, brother and uncle.
“We did not come today to view this execution for revenge or to even the score,” the family said afterward in a statement. “What this does is give our family and friends the knowledge that Mr. Hearn will not have the opportunity to hurt anyone else.”
About three and a half hours before his injection,the U.S. Supreme Court denied his final appeal to halt the execution. Among the appeals tried by Hearn’s legal team over the years was a claim that because Hearn’s mother drank alcohol when she was pregnant with him, his neurological development was stunted and he had mental impairments to disqualify him from execution—but the court found that his IQ was too high to make that claim. In another appeal, lawyers said his trial attorneys didn’t do enough to investigate his troubled childhood. But they were all rejected by the courts.
Asked by the warden if he wanted to make a statement before his execution, Hearn said: “I’d like to tell my family that I love y’all and I wish y’all well. I’m ready.”