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Convicted Child Killer Executed

May 4, 1989 GMT

STARKE, Fla. (AP) _ A former prison guard who suffocated an 8-year-old girl and left her body in a plastic bag was executed today in Florida’s electric chair for the youngster’s death 11 years ago.

Attorneys for 31-year-old Aubrey Adams Jr. had conducted a whirlwind round of unsuccessful appeals Wednesday in hopes of finding a judge to block the execution at Florida State Prison near Starke.

The victim’s mother joined 15 relatives and family friends in a pasture outside the prison before the execution.

″It’s a decade too late but we finally got justice today. I just wish my husband was here today,″ said Ann Thornley of Reliance, Tenn., whose husband James died late last year of heart problems. ″This killed him.″ Seven capital punishment opponents kept a silent vigil nearby.

After he was strapped into the electric chair, Adams was asked if he had a final statement before the black hood was pulled over his head.

″My pastor will be making my last statement for me,″ he replied in a strong, clear voice.

His pastor, W.J. Barfield, left the prison without talking to witnesses or reporters but was contacted later at his Church of God in Newberry.

Barfield said Adams left a handwritten final statement that said, in part: ″I hope and pray that all the new and re-opened wounds will be healed quickly after my passing. My death is the Lord’s will and I am now with my Lord and savior Jesus Christ in heaven.″

Adams’ statement made no direct reference to his crime but said he ″forgives all those have had anything against me.″ He said the death penalty was against Christ’s teaching.

The electricity in the death chamber was turned on at 7:04 a.m. and Adams was pronounced dead five minutes later.

Adams was the second person executed in Florida this year, and the 21st in the state and 108th in the nation since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1976 ruling that restored capital punishment.

In January, confessed serial killer Ted Bundy was executed for the slaying of Kimberly Diane Leach, a Lake City schoolgirl.

The court late Wednesday voted 7-2 against an emergency request for a delay, and turnedf Trisa Gail Thornley, a third-grader last seen on her way home from school in Ocala in central Florida.

Her mutilated and naked body was found in a plastic bag about two months later by hunters in a remote area three miles from her home.

An obscene phone call to the girl’s home was traced to Adams’ home, and he eventually admitted picking her up. He later said he recalled she screamed and he placed his hand over her mouth to silence her, but not killing her. An autopsy showed she suffocated.

Adams was a state prison guard at Marion Correctional Institution from early 1977 until his arrest in March 1978.

Adams had been under one death warrant in 1984 and two in 1986 after psychiatrists ruled him mentally competent to be executed. State law requires that inmates be able to understand why they are being punished before they can be executed.

His mother, Marjorie Adams, of Trenton, Fla., wrote a letter to then-Gov. Bob Graham in 1979 appealing for clemency.

″You as a parent must know what dreams you have for your child. Mine are shattered. I once thought as a lot of others think that the death penalty was the right thing. I only hope and pray that no one has to have their thinking changed as I have. I love my son no matter what happens and would gladly die that he may live,″ she wrote.