|Rich and Nancy Wilson speak|
Following the execution of Richard Bible, who was convicted of brutally raping and killing 9-year-old Jennifer Wilson in 1988, Rich and Nancy Wilson thanked the communities that supported them spoke on their 23-year ordeal.
|After the execution|
Steve Twist, who helped draft the legislation for Victim's Rights laws in Arizona, speaks about the Wilson family and how the wording of the law is a tribute to Rich Wilson preserving and protecting Jennifer when her body was found.
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FLORENCE — On June 30, 1988, a Yuma family buried their 9-year-old daughter, Jennifer Marie Wilson. Now, 23 years to the day, her killer has been executed.
Called the “worst of the worst” by Arizona’s clemency board, Richard Lynn Bible, 49, died at 11:11 a.m. Thursday at the state prison in Florence.
Strapped to the lethal injection table and covered with a white sheet, only Bible’s head and some of his orange prison clothing were visible. He spoke his last words into a microphone that extended down from the ceiling above him.
“I would like to thank my family, my lawyers. I love ’em all. And everything is OK. That is all.”
The execution began at 11:02 a.m. After Bible was sedated by the first of three drugs, needles then pumped a lethal mixture of pentobarbital into his veins. He was pronounced dead nine minutes later.
Bible’s right hand fidgeted and he took several deep breaths before he lost consciousness, his eyes closing. Soon, his breathing stopped.
Jennifer’s parents, Richard and Nancy Wilson, her older sister, two younger brothers and 13 other members of the family witnessed Bible’s execution.
Afterward, Richard Wilson said, “It’s a slow system, cumbersome, frustrating at times, but it did work, and today needed to happen. And as a family, we start a new healing process now.”
Jennifer’s mother added, “It has been an extremely difficult time. Twenty-three years is a long time and this needed to happen. Justice is served today. We know God is with us.”
As they stood watching in the crowded observation room, Richard and Nancy held hands as one of their sons held on to his father’s shoulder.
“Justice worked slowly, but it worked today,” said family friend Jay Hilar during a press conference held afterwards.
About 50 people witnessed the execution, including officials, victims and media. The only two witnesses there on Bible’s behalf were his two attorneys.
Bible was housed at the Eyman State Prison’s Browning Unit, where death row is located, before being brought to the prison in Florence sometime Wednesday night.
Bible became the 90th inmate executed by Arizona since 1910 and the 25th to die by injection since the state changed its execution method in 1992. Before then, 28 inmates had been hanged and 37 were killed with lethal gas.
He had a choice of being put to death by gas or lethal injection. Since he declined to make that choice, under state law, lethal injection was used.
According to Department of Correction officials, Bible’s last meal was breakfast: four eggs over easy with melted cheese on top, a cup of gravy with sausage, three-quarters of a cup of hash browns, six biscuits, six ounces of grape jelly and peanut butter, and 20 ounces of chocolate milk.
Bible had been on death row since 1990 after being convicted of kidnapping, molesting and fatally bludgeoning Jennifer Wilson while she was on vacation with her family in Flagstaff. Her body was found three weeks after she went missing.
Blood found on Bible’s shirt was consistent with Jennifer’s, and multiple items found in a car Bible had stolen were found near her body, including vodka bottles, cigars and rubber bands. Bible always maintained his innocence during his more than two decades on death row, but investigators said evidence in the case was overwhelming.
Before Jennifer’s murder, Bible had an extensive criminal history, including serving six years in prison for raping his 17-year-old cousin in 1981. That crime occurred in the same area where Jennifer was killed.
Bible said that after he was released from prison in 1987, he wanted to settle down, get married and stay out of trouble. He dated a woman with a 9-month-old son, and the two had plans for Bible to become the boy’s adoptive father. But the relationship ended after the son was taken away by the state Child Protective Services, and Bible turned to drugs and heavy drinking.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.