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Pinkerton: Ready To Die When Stay Granted

August 21, 1985 GMT

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) _ Convicted killer Jay Kelly Pinkerton, who came within 30 minutes of execution a week ago, said today that he was at peace and was prepared to die when the U.S. Supreme Court granted a reprieve.

″I didn’t feel any pressure, but I had prepared for quite a long time mentally for death,″ Pinkerton said in his first interview since the high court granted the last-minute stay.

″I believe in God. I was ready to meet my maker. I had my mind on the hereafter.″

Other death row inmates said they clapped, cheered and whistled when they heard radio reports about Pinkerton’s stay.

Pinkerton said some inmate friends gave him gifts upon his return to death row. But he refused to disclose the nature of the gifts, saying the items were prohibited by prison officials.

The 23-year-old Amarillo meat cutter was scheduled for execution by injection shortly after midnight Aug. 14 for the October 1979 rape and mutilation of Sarah Donn Lawrence, a 30-year-old Amarillo housewife.

But the Supreme Court voted 6-2 to keep Pinkerton from becoming the youngest inmate to die since executions were reinstated in 1976. The justices said they needed more information about the case.

Pinkerton acknowledged that the stay could be lifted any day and he could face a third death date.

″I believe in God. I seek refuge in his hands. I don’t rely on what the courts can do for you,″ he said.

Pinkerton also faces death for the slaying of Sherry Welch, 25, a former beauty queen.

Pinkerton today maintained his innocence in both cases, complaining his trial lawyers refused to allow evidence that would support his alibi in each slaying.