Robert Wayne Harris, an ex-convict who confessed to killing five people at a Dallas-area car wash, was executed Thursday evening.
Harris, 40, received lethal injection less than two hours after the U.S. Supreme Court refused appeals to halt his punishment.
The eighth Texas inmate executed in the nation’s most active capital punishment state, Harris confessed to killing five people at a car wash a week after he was fired from his job there 12 years ago.
Harris expressed love to his brother and three friends who were watching through a window.
“I’m going home. I’m going home,” Harris said. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be alright. God bless, and the Texas Rangers, Texas Rangers.”
He was pronounced dead at 6:43 p.m., 25 minutes after the lethal dose of pentobarbital began. Another execution is reportedly set for next week.
Harris was convicted of two of the five slayings in March 2000 at the Mi-T-Fine Car Wash in Irving. In addition, he also was charged with abducting and killing a woman months before the killing spree. Harris led police to her remains.
While he never denied the slayings, Harris’s lawyer unsuccessfully contended in appeals he was mentally impaired and should be spared because of a Supreme Court ban on execution of mentally impaired people. Attorney Lydia Brandt also argued prosecutors improperly removed black prospective jurors from serving on his trial jury. Harris is black.
Harris died "without ever having had a fair trial" on the issues, Brandt said, according to CBS News.
According to the Washington Post, Harris had served an eight-year sentence for burglary and other offenses and had been working at the car wash for about 10 months when he was fired and arrested after exposing himself to a female customer.
Reports indicate that on the following Monday, he showed up before the business was to open, demanded the safe be opened and then shot the manager, the assistant who had fired Harris and a cashier. Three more employees reporting to work also were shot, two of them fatally.
When another worker arrived, Harris explained he just had stumbled upon the bloody scene. But when Harris pulled a knife, the worker said he was feeling uneasy and left. The worker called 911, and Harris was arrested the next day.
Evidence from the trial, cited by the Washington Post, showed Harris had used money taken from the safe to buy new clothes, checked into a motel and asked a friend to buy him some gold jewelry.
Prosecutors tried Harris specifically for two of the slayings: Agustin Villasenor, 36, of Arlington, the assistant manager whose throat also was slit, and cashier Rhoda Wheeler, 46, of Irving. He was eventually charged but not tried for killing Villasenor's brother, Benjamin, 32, a seven-year employee; car wash manager Dennis Lee, 48, of Irving; and Roberto Jimenez Jr., 15, an employee from Mexico.
According to CBS News, Harris' mention of the baseball team in his last words isn't the first time a sports team has been referred to from the death chamber gurney. Several have thanked the Dallas Cowboys football team for providing them enjoyment.