MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. – After his last chance for a reprieve was exhausted, a convicted killer who challenged the legality of lethal injection said only: "Let's get it over with."
Marvin Bieghler, 58, was put to death early Friday for the 1981 slayings of a man and his pregnant wife inside their home. He was pronounced dead at 2:17 a.m.
About an hour earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a 6-3 decision to overturn a federal appeals court ruling that cleared the way for Bieghler to challenge the method of execution. The high court had rejected a similar appeal earlier in the day.
Bieghler, a Marine Corps veteran who saw significant combat during the Vietnam War, did not mention the killings for which he was executed in a final written statement released by the prison.
The brief statement concluded: "I believe in God, country, corps. Death before dishonor. To my son, grandkids and stepkids, you will always have a piece of my heart. Semper fi, Marv."
Bieghler, like Florida inmate Clarence Hill, challenged lethal injection as unconstitutional. Hill contends the three chemicals used in Florida's method of execution — the same as those used in Indiana — cause pain, making his execution cruel and unusual punishment.
The Supreme Court said it would hear arguments in Hill's case. Bieghler's case differed from Hill's because he was allowed to contest the Indiana execution method and lost.
The Supreme Court has never found a specific form of execution to be cruel and unusual, and the Florida case does not give the court that opportunity. The justices could, however, spell out what options are available to inmates with last-minute challenges to the way they will be put to death.
Bieghler's attorney, Brent Westerfeld, had told justices in a motion Thursday that a "grave injustice may arise" if Bieghler was executed while Hill's case is pending because there is a chance that Hill will win the right to pursue his claim against lethal injection and eventually win.
The state attorney general's office argued that Bieghler's appeal was a delay tactic and that Indiana's chemical injection method of execution, used since 1996, was constitutional.
The state argued that the Constitution does not guarantee a pain-free execution.
"Indeed, electrocution is a constitutionally permissible form of execution which is undoubtedly more painful than lethal injection," the brief said.
Bieghler, an admitted drug dealer, was convicted in the deaths of Tommy Miller, 20, and Kimberly Jane Miller, 19, whose bodies were found Dec. 11, 1981, in their mobile home near the Howard County town of Russiaville, about 10 miles west of Kokomo.
Tommy Miller had been shot six times and his wife, who was four weeks pregnant, was shot three times. Bieghler, 58, told the parole board last week that he did not kill the couple and wanted Daniels to commute his death sentence to time served.
Tommy Miller's mother, Priscilla Hodges of Kokomo, traveled to the prison but was not allowed under state law to witness the execution. She said afterward she felt some sense of relief but that the execution did not bring her any closure.
"I hope he was right with the Lord," she said of Bieghler. "I hope he is with the Lord right now."