JARRATT, Va. – A former Army counterintelligence worker was executed by electric chair Tuesday for killing a Virginia couple, becoming the first U.S. inmate to die by electrocution in over a year.
Larry Bill Elliott was pronounced dead at 9:08 p.m. at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt. He was convicted of the January 2001 shooting deaths of 25-year-old Dana Thrall and 30-year-old Robert Finch.
Prosecutors said Elliott killed the couple to win the love of former stripper and escort Rebecca Gragg, who was involved in a bitter custody dispute with the man who was killed. Elliott claimed he was innocent.
In the death chamber, Elliott would only say he had prepared a statement for his attorneys to read after the execution.
On Tuesday, Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said he felt no compelling reason to stop the execution. The U.S. Supreme Court had refused to intervene a day earlier.
Finch was shot three times, and Thrall was beaten before being shot several times in the face and chest while her two boys, ages 4 and 6, were upstairs in the couple's Woodbridge town home.
Two separate juries convicted Elliott of the killings. A 2002 verdict was set aside because a juror discussed the case outside of the court. He was convicted again a year later.
At 60, Elliott was Virginia's oldest death row inmate. Virginia death row inmates can choose between the electric chair and lethal injection.
Of the 35 death penalty states, seven Southern states still offer electrocution. Two others allow it only if lethal injection is deemed unconstitutional.
The last person executed by electrocution in the U.S. was James Earl Reed, who put to death in South Carolina in June 2008 for killing his ex-girlfriend's parents. Virginia's last electrocution was in 2006.