Saturday, April 28, 2012

AZ man executed: "I regret nothing"

The 16th Execution of 2012

Thomas Arnold Kemp was executed by the state of Arizona at the state prison in Florence on April 25, 2012 for killing a Tucson college student after robbing him of $200 in1992.

As Kemp lay strapped to a table in the death chamber, he was asked if he had any final words. According to The Associated Press he responded that he did, then said simply: "I regret nothing."

He nodded and smiled at his attorney, then looked at the ceiling and calmly waited. As the execution began, Kemp's eyes closed and his body visibly shook for several seconds before he went quiet and appeared to fall asleep with a few deep breaths.

According to the AP, many death-row inmates in Arizona use their last words to apologize to their victims' family members, and some cry. Others have used their last words to cheer on their favorite sports teams, including Robert Charles Comer, who said at his May 2007 execution: "Go Raiders."

Kemp was sentenced to death for kidnapping Hector Soto Juarez from outside Juarez's Tucson home on July 11, 1992, and robbing him before taking him into the desert near Marana, forcing him to undress and shooting him twice in the head.

Juarez, 25, had just left his apartment and fiancée to get food when Kemp and Jeffery Logan spotted him. They held him at gunpoint and used his debit card to withdraw $200 before driving him to the Silverbell Mine area, where Kemp killed Juarez.

The two men then went to Flagstaff, where they kidnapped a married couple traveling from California to Kansas and made them drive to Durango, Colo., where Kemp raped the man in a hotel room. Later, Kemp and Logan forced the couple to drive to Denver, where the couple escaped. Logan soon after separated from Kemp and called police about Juarez's murder.

Logan led police to Juarez's body, and Kemp was arrested. Logan was later sentenced to life in prison.

Kemp had argued his conviction was unfair because then-prosecutor Kenneth Peasley repeatedly told jurors that Kemp's homosexuality was behind Juarez's kidnapping and murder, and that the jury hadn't been properly vetted for their feelings about gay men.

None of Juarez's family members were at the execution, and prison officials said Kemp didn't have any family members of his own there, either.

Kemp's lack of regret Wednesday mirrors remarks he gave at his sentencing in 1992 when he was given the chance to argue that he should be spared from the death penalty. Instead, Kemp said he had no regrets outside of not killing Logan when he had the chance.

"I don't show any mercy, and I am certainly not here to plead for mercy," he said at the sentencing according to the AP.

"The so-called victim was not an American citizen and, therefore, was beneath my contempt," Kemp said and then referred to Juarez using a racial slur. "If more of them ended up dead, the rest of them would soon learn to stay in Mexico where they belong."

In a rare move, Kemp also declined to seek mercy from Arizona's clemency board, often an inmate's last chance to argue why they don't deserve to be killed.

In a letter written March 29, Kemp said such a hearing "provides public humiliation of the prisoner without any chance that the board might actually recommend a commutation."

The letter was provided to the AP through Kemp's Tucson attorney, Tim Gabrielsen.

"In light of the board's history of consistently denying requests for commutations, my impression is that a hearing in my case would be nothing short of a dog and pony show," Kemp wrote according to the AP.

Kemp was the third Arizona inmate to be executed using one drug, pentobarbital. Before that, the state used a three-drug method. It made the change because its supply of one of the drugs had expired.

Kemp was allowed to choose a last meal the night before his execution. He ate a bacon cheeseburger, French fries, a slice of boysenberry pie, strawberry ice cream and a root beer.

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