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Colorado Holds First Execution in 30 Years, Giving Convicted Murderer and Rapist Gary Lee

October 14, 1997 GMT

Colorado Holds First Execution in 30 Years, Giving Convicted Murderer and Rapist Gary Lee Davis a Lethal InjectionBy JUDITH KOHLER

CANON CITY, Colo. (AP) _ After 30 years without an execution, Colorado put to death a man who abducted a woman from her home in front of her two young children, then raped and killed her.

Gary Lee Davis had no final words before his execution by injection Monday.

Davis, 53, and his wife, Rebecca, were looking for a woman to use as a sex slave when they kidnapped Virginia May, 33, in July 1986. They drove her to a secluded spot, stripped her and led her around by a rope before Davis shot her 14 times.

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Rebecca Davis was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

When his appeals ran out, Davis publicly apologized to May’s family in a television interview. He blamed alcoholism and said he began to understand the damage he had done when he became sober.

But Rod MacLennan, the victim’s father, said: ``Tonight Colorado ... fired a shot heard around the state that gave fair warning ... that if you deliberately take a life of one of us, you will pay the penalty and the penalty is death.″

Davis was the 59th inmate to be executed in the United States this year, making it the most active year for executions nationwide since 1957, when 65 people were put to death.

Colorado residents have been reluctant to issue the death penalty, and last year death penalty sentencing was put in the hands of judges _ a move supported by the state’s district attorneys. There are only five people now on death row, among the lowest number in the nation among capital-punishment states.

The state’s reputation on capital punishment even reached Oklahoma City, where residents were unhappy when the trials of bombing suspects Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were moved to Denver. McVeigh, however, was sentenced to death this summer; a jury is still being picked in Nichols’ trial.

Davis’s long criminal record included a conviction for raping a 15-year-old girl in 1982. While in prison, he got to know Rebecca Fincham through the mail, and they married while he was still in prison.

She pleaded guilty to sending nude photos of her 13-year-old daughter to a fellow inmate of her husband. Davis was released on probation in 1985, and the slaying of May came after he and his wife celebrated the end of his probation with a night of heavy drinking.

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The Davises went to May’s ranch on the pretext of giving clothes to her children and borrowing some tools. May’s husband was away at the time. She was alone with her 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter.

Davis’ attorney argued his client had suffered an alcoholic blackout and that Rebecca Davis was more to blame. But after getting a letter from his wife, Davis testified that he alone pulled the trigger.

Colorado’s last execution was in 1967 when Luis Jose Monge was put to death for killing family members.