© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Texas Matters: Time Of Death And The Execution Of Larry Swearingen

Death Row inmate Larry Swearingen in the Polunsky Unit prison in Livingston Texas
David Martin Davies
Death Row inmate Larry Swearingen in the Polunsky Unit prison in Livingston Texas

On Wednesday, August 21, the State of Texas prepared to execute Larry Swearingen. He was convicted of the abduction, rape and murder of Melissa Trotter, a 19-year-old college student in Montgomery County.

In Huntsville, Texas outside of the Walls Unit prison, which houses the execution chamber, a group of protestors gathered as the time ticks down to 6 p.m., the assigned hour of Swearingen death.

They are here for every execution. These 30 or so demonstrators are opposed to the death penalty on moral grounds and are holding signs condemning the practice and are working to have the death penalty abolished.

Swearingen was convicted in 2000 and since then he’s been given six execution dates. Five of them the courts stepped in and issued stays allowing him to continues his appeals and keep trying to prove to the legal system that he is actually innocent. More appeals have been filed trying to once again get the courts intervene.  At this hour it was up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Then word came at about 5:50 p.m. the Supreme Court rejected the appeal. The execution would proceed.

Inside the Walls Unit the process of executing Swearingen moved forward. At 6:21 he was take from the holding cell and taken to the death chamber, strapped on to the gurney and IV’s were put into each arm.

Simultaneously the witnesses, Melissa Trotter’s family and the media were brought into the prison from the visitor’s center across the street with the protestors’ bullhorn echoing off the red brick walls.

Strapped to the death chamber's gurney with an IV in each arm Swearingen said his last words, "Lord, forgive them. They don't know what they are doing."

The lethal injection drug solution was administered at 6:24 p.m.

At 6:47 p.m., 48-year-old Larry Swearingen was pronounced dead. He had spent the last 20 years of his life behind bars for a murder that he insisted he did not commit.

David Martin Davies can be reached at DMDavies@TPR.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi