LUCASVILLE, Ohio – A man who burned a woman alive in the trunk of her car was executed on Wednesday in Ohio's first death by lethal injection since the state revised its protocol on the procedure.
Daniel Wilson, 39, was sentenced to death for the 1991 slaying of acquaintance Carol Lutz, 24. He locked Lutz in the trunk of her car and set it on fire after they spent several hours drinking together at a bar near Cleveland.
"I'm very sorry for what I did to Carol, and to my family, I'm sorry things turned out this way," Wilson said in a final statement. "I believe in Jesus. He's my lord and savior, and I'm coming home."
He was pronounced dead at 10:33 a.m. at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.
Carol Lutz's mother, Martha Lutz, said the execution ended a long, hard road for her family.
"We have waited 18 years 29 days for this to happen. It finally has come and we thank God," she said, standing with her husband, son and daughter-in-law after the execution. "People may think we're cruel, but the cruel part of this is not being able to have Christmas with Carol ever again."
The state's revised protocol allows executioners to give an additional dose of sedative if needed to ensure an inmate is unconscious before lethal drugs are administered. Roughly nine minutes before Wilson was pronounced dead, the warden stood by his right side, shook his shoulder, pinched his arm, and called Wilson's name before going ahead with the second drug of a three-drug procedure.
The procedure — to check that the sedative has taken full effect — is part of a new set of execution procedures adopted by Ohio.
Phillip Kerns, warden of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, made a similar check of inmates executed in October and November, said spokeswoman Andrea Carson.
The state formally added the procedure to its execution policy last month. The revised policy also allows executioners to administer a second dose of sedative if it's deemed the inmate isn't sufficiently unconscious. The second dose was available for the first time Wednesday, Carson said. It was not used.
Wilson was calm during the execution process, and family members of Lutz, as well as a witnesses for Wilson, were silent and motionless as they watched.
Wilson's attorneys had sought to avoid his execution, telling the Ohio Parole Board he was beaten as a child by an alcoholic father who would handcuff him to a chair.
"There are millions of people who have rough childhoods and lives, and people don't do what he did." Martha Lutz said. "I know today his death was nothing, nothing like Carol's. There was no suffering, no pain, just him going off to sleep."
Wilson was denied clemency Monday, and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his final appeals Tuesday.
His spiritual adviser, the Rev. Neil Kookoothe, said Wilson was baptized as a Roman Catholic last week and had received communion Wednesday morning.
"Dan wanted to make sure his sorrow for the Lutz family and his remorse for taking Carol's life is sincere," Kookoothe said. "He wanted people to know that."
Wilson killed Lutz after she drove him home from the bar in Elyria. Somehow — Wilson said he didn't know how — Lutz ended up in the trunk of her black Oldsmobile Cutlass after they left the bar and went to Wilson's house.
Wilson let Lutz out briefly after she begged to use the restroom, but forced her back into the trunk even though she promised to forget the ordeal if he ran away.
Wilson then set the punctured gas tank on fire and walked off while Lutz burned to death.
Wilson spent his final day visiting with family, friends and a priest and called his mother several times overnight. He had a special meal that included a well-done porterhouse steak, baked potato, corn on the cob, salad, strawberry cheesecake and Dr Pepper.
Wilson is the first inmate executed in Ohio since Nov. 19.
Ohio has put 29 men to death since it reinstated the death penalty in 1999.