PARCHMAN – A man who shot his ex-wife, her husband and two boys to death more than a decade ago was executed Tuesday in Mississippi, asking for forgiveness with his last statement.
Officials at the state penitentiary at Parchman declared Benny Joe Stevens dead at 6:22 p.m.
“Forgive me … what I did was a terrible thing. There’s no forgiveness for what I did,” said a bearded Stevens, 52, who was dressed in a red prison jumpsuit and white sneakers. He was wearing glasses.
He was sentenced to die in 1999 for the mobile home killings in the Foxworth community of rural Marion County. Gunned down were Stevens’ former wife, Glenda Lee Reid, 38; her husband, Wesley Lee Reid, 38; the Reids’ 11-year-old son, Dylan; and Dylan’s friend, 10-year-old Heath Pounds.
Stevens’ execution was the first in the state using pentobarbital due to a nationwide shortage of the usual drug.
Among witnesses were his father and brother who visited earlier in the day. Stevens also wrote a letter to his daughter, Erica, who survived the attack and who was among the witnesses with seven other members of the victims’ families.
Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said Stevens expressed remorse but told corrections officials that he doesn’t remember the 1998 killings.
“He feels he has gotten right with God and repented,” Epps told reporters.
Kathy Pounds, the mother of Heath Pounds, said she hoped her family could now remember the happy times with her son.
“For us today is not about Benny Joe. It is about Heath. We love you and miss you every day. Now you are finally free, so fly high, Heath,” she said.
The family of the Reids said in a statement that while the execution “does not bring closure to our pain it is a step in our healing process.”
Both the U.S. Supreme Court and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour turned down requests to stop the execution.
Two more executions are scheduled this month: Rodney Gray’s on May 17 and Robert Simon Jr.’s on May 24.
Jack Elliot Jr./The Associated Press