As He Was Executed, Motorcycles Revved Engines

Robert Jennings killed a Houston cop in 1988
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 31, 2019 12:06 AM CST
Updated Jan 31, 2019 6:29 AM CST
Texas Inmate Is First Executed in US in 2019
This undated photo released by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows death row inmate Robert Jennings.   (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)

A 61-year-old Texas inmate was executed Wednesday evening for killing a Houston police officer more than three decades ago. Robert Jennings received a lethal injection for the July 1988 fatal shooting of Officer Elston Howard during a robbery at an adult bookstore, the AP reports. As witnesses filed into the death chamber, Jennings asked a chaplain standing next to him if he knew the name of the slain officer. The chaplain didn't appear to respond, and a prison official then told the warden to proceed with the punishment. "To my friends and family, it was a nice journey," Jennings said in his final statement. "To the family of the police officer, I hope y'all find peace. Be well and be safe and try to enjoy life's moments, because we never get those back."

After his arrest in 1988, Jennings confessed to killing the 24-year-old officer, telling police in a tape-recorded statement he was remorseful about what happened and would "face whatever punishment (he had) coming." Outside the prison, more than 100 officers stood vigil. And a motorcycle club that supports police revved their engines, with the roar from the bikes audible in the chamber. Jennings was pronounced dead at 6:33pm, 18 minutes after the drug started. He became the first inmate put to death this year both in the US and in Texas. "Justice has been rendered and my family can finally have the closure we deserve," Michael Agee, Howard's nephew and a current Houston officer, said after watching Jennings die. (This Nevada inmate killed himself after his execution was called off.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.