Condemned Magnolia man goes
to death protesting innocence
By Allan Turner - Chron.com
March 8, 2012
HUNTSVILLE Ė Keith Thurmond, convicted of killing his estranged
wife and her lover in a fit of anger over losing custody of his
8-year-old son, was executed Wednesday at the state's Huntsville
The third killer to be
put to death this year, Thurmond, 52, a former auto mechanic and
air conditioning repairman, went to his death protesting his
innocence. "I swear to God I didn't kill her," he said in a final
statement tinged with tears.
Looking toward the
witness chamber occupied by his victims' relatives, Thurmond
proclaimed his wife had been slain by another man.
Thurmond spent almost
a decade on death row after the September 2001 murders.
According to court and
police documents, Thurmond became enraged after sheriff's deputies
arrived at his Magnolia mobile home to transfer custody of his son
to his wife.
Donning a black karate
suit, he paced his trailer, brandished a sword and a pistol, and
angrily dismissed advice from a friend and relative that he allow
the courts to resolve his domestic problems.
Then he crossed the street, pumping seven bullets into his wife,
Sharon Ann Thurmond, 34, and fatally shooting and beating her
lover, Guy Fernandes, 35.
After the shootings,
Thurmond returned to the nearby mobile home he shared with his
brother and threatened to kill himself. "I messed up, I messed
up!" the killer cried, according to court documents.
apprehended after a two-hour standoff with police.
Even before the deadly
episode, authorities reported that the relationship between
Thurmond and his spouse had been tumultuous. In one incident, both
were arrested after an all-night drinking bout terminated in a
quarrel involving an automatic pistol.
Incensed that one of
Thurmond's friends had photographed the couple after they had
passed out after a round of drinking, Sharon Thurmond waved a 9mm
automatic at her husband and taunted him to shoot her, a police
Thurmond threw his
wife to the floor and kicked her after she hit him in the face
with the weapon.
In the punishment
phase of Thurmond's trial, one of his former girlfriends testified
that he raped her after she ended the relationship. While in jail
awaiting his trial, Thurmond violated disciplinary rules by
threatening a female officer.
"I can snap her neck,"
he said, according to court documents. "What are they going to do,
kill me twice?"
was almost chatty as witnesses took positions in the barred rooms
flanking the death chamber. "It makes me sick for you to look at
me like that," he said, looking into the chamber occupied by his
Thurmond concluded his
final statement by telling authorities, "Go ahead and finish it
off." Then, as the drugs were administered, "You can taste it."
The lethal drugs were
administered at 6:11 p.m. Thurmond was declared dead at 6:22 p.m.
The killer's appeals were marked by a snafu in which his appeals
petition arrived in federal court a day past deadline, leading to
its rejection. The 5th U.S. Court of Appeals also rejected the
appeal, but later reversed its decision. Nonetheless, the appeal,
which contended defense lawyers were negligent in failing to
introduce mitigating evidence that Thurmond had been abused as a
child, was unsuccessful.
Thurmond's most recent
appeal before the high court contended he had suffered inadequate
legal counsel earlier in the appeals process. The court justices
are currently considering similar arguments in an Arizona case,
and Thurmond sought a reprieve until that case is resolved.
The Supreme Court rejected the appeal about an hour before the
Keith Steven Thurmond