A Missouri man who killed his girlfriend and her young daughter during an argument more than 14 years ago was put to death by lethal injection Tuesday night after Governor Nixon denied a clemency request that heavily relied on Strong’s 14-year-old daughter, Alyshia, who was three months old when her mother and half-sister died.
She told the Associated Press in an interview on Monday that she has forgiven her father.
Richard Strong was pronounced dead in Bonne Terre, at 6:58 p.m. Strong becomes the fourth man executed in Missouri this year, and the 16th since November 2013.
Only Texas has executed more inmates over that time span.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to stop the execution of Richard Strong. Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan would have granted the application for stay of execution.
Investigators said Strong used a butcher knife to kill his girlfriend, Eva Washington, on 23 October 2000 at her apartment in the St Louis suburb of St Ann. They said he then turned the knife on Washington’s two-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, Zandrea Thomas.
Police received a 911 call from the apartment that day and heard a scream during it. Officers headed to the residence, where Strong met them outside. He initially told them Washington was sleeping, then said she had gone to work.
Officers saw blood stains on his hand, and Strong tried to run. When they caught him, he admitted to the killings.
“Just shoot me, just shoot me,” he said, according to court records. “I killed them.”
Inside, police found the bodies. They also found a pool of blood on a bed, the knife next to it. They also found Alyshia, who was unhurt.
Strong’s attorney, Jennifer Herndon, said both Strong and Washington suffered from mental illness and frequently argued.
“He just snapped,” Herndon said. “It was just sort of a powder keg waiting to explode. It wasn’t a healthy relationship.”
Alyshia Strong was taken in by Strong’s mother. Despite the killings, she grew close to her father, frequently visiting him in prison.
“l know some people probably wonder how I can have a relationship with my father given that he killed my mother, but we are very close,” Alyshia wrote in seeking clemency for her father. “I am thankful I have him in my life.”
“It is wrong for me to have another loss,” she wrote. “I understand that my father needs to face consequences and to pay for what he did, but I do not think it is right for me to lose my father as part of the punishment.”
Sources: The Guardian, AP, June 9, 2015
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