Florida executes killer of Bay area wife, boy - WFLA News Channel 8

Florida executes killer of Bay area wife, boy

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John Henry John Henry
Victim Suzanne Henry & Eugene Christian (in her arms) Victim Suzanne Henry & Eugene Christian (in her arms)
Pasco Sheriff's Office Major Ed Beckman speaks outside the prison in Starke Pasco Sheriff's Office Major Ed Beckman speaks outside the prison in Starke

In his last words, while strapped to a gurney in the execution chamber at The Florida State Prison, condemned killer John Ruthell Henry apologized for what he did back in 1985.

"I can't undo what I've done. I would if I could," Henry said. "I hope that you can find forgiveness in your heart."

But the family of his victims still aren't ready for that.

29 years ago, Henry stabbed to death his wife Suzanne in Pasco County and nine hours later fatally stabbed his five year old stepson Eugene Christian after driving him to Hillsborough County while high on crack cocaine.

"Justice has been served," said Selena Geiger, the niece of Henry's slain wife.. "I feel that my family can finally rest...knowing that all this is done and finally taken care of."

The execution, originally set for 6:00 p.m., was delayed 90 minutes due to a final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Henry's lawyer tried in vain to stop the execution. He argued without success that Henry, whose IQ was once measured at 78, didn't have the mental capacity to understand his crime or his punishment.

Inside the death chamber, with 24 witnesses and prison officials watching from an adjacent room through a large plate glass window, the process of injecting a combination of lethal drugs into Henry's arm began at 7:32 p.m.

Within minutes Henry was unconscious and his breathing became shallow. At 7:43 p.m., a prison doctor checked Henry for vital signs and declared him dead.

Pasco Sheriff Office Major Ed Beckman first met Henry as a young jail deputy shortly after the murders and was among the witnesses who watched him die.

"He got a lot better deal than his victims did," Beckman said afterward.

Geiger held up an old family photo at the news conference following the execution that showed her as a little girl along with her aunt Suzanne and cousin Eugene.

"These are the ones you should remember," Geiger said.

Moments after the execution ended a brown curtain slowly rolled down the plate glass window separating the witness room and the death chamber inside The Florida State Prison.

The last act of a tragedy that began long ago in Pasco County was finally over.

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