June 12, 1998|
Byline: Cody V. Aycock
HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- Clifford Holt Boggess, his arms, legs and torso strapped
to his death bed, died with a smile Thursday.
At 6:03 p.m., the condemned killer -- the Rev. Jim Brizzle by his side - was
placed face-up on a hospital gurney in a small room inside the Huntsville unit
Officials inserted needles into his right and left hand. Boggess then waited to
die for murdering Frank Moses Collier, a Saint Jo, Texas, grocery store clerk
in July 1986.
Boggess was also convicted of killing Ray Vance Hazelwood of Whitesboro, Texas,
in August 1986.
Moments after Boggess was strapped down, two of Hazelwood's relatives and four
reporters entered a small viewing room to Boggess' right.
"Hi," Boggess said to the group with a childlike tone and a smile.
Several of Boggess' friends and a spiritual adviser stood in a separate room to
view the execution. Hazelwood's granddaughter, Lisa Jones, and his son, Jim,
stood nearest to Boggess in front of a barred window.
The killer and witnesses were less than 5 feet away from each other.
Boggess turned his head to the Hazelwood relatives and said his last words at
"I'd like to say that for the murders of Ray Hazelwood and Frank Collier, I am
sorry for the pain it has caused you," he said. "To my friends, I'd like to say
that I love you and I'm glad you've been a part of my life. Thank you. I'll
"Remember that today, I'll be with Jesus in paradise."
Then Boggess, who turned 33 Thursday, began to pray in a calm but firm voice.
"Lord, Jesus Christ, son of Almighty God, mercy on me the sinner, forgive me of
my sins," he said. "I would like to offer up my death for the conversion of
sinners on death row.
"Lord, Jesus, into your hands I command my spirit."
Officials behind a mirrored window then began pumping sodium thiopenthal,
pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride into Boggess' veins.
Boggess stared upward and closed his eyes under a pair of black-rimmed glasses
and went to sleep. He let out a small sigh as witnesses stood silent, waiting
for the lethal drugs to stop his heart. He died at 6:21 p.m. with Brizzle
touching his leg.
Hazelwood and Jones showed no emotion as an official announced the time of
"One breath and that was it," Jim Hazelwood said at a news conference after the
execution. "It took too long for this."
Boggess was sentenced to death in 1987. Since that time, he admitted his crimes
and apologized to the victims' families.
He also became a Christian.
"For his sake, I do hope he found Jesus," Hazelwood said. "God forgives. I
cannot, not for a long time."
Jones, who saw her grandfather moments before he was killed, said she was glad
she saw Boggess die." I don't think I would have ever forgiven myself if I
hadn't seen this thing through to the end," she said, tears welling up in her
eyes as half a dozen reporters listened. "I feel 100 percent better."
But both Hazelwood and Jones said the death was too easy, compared to the pain
he inflicted on the victims and their families. They also said they were
insulted by Boggess' flippant hello.
"To me, it looked like a cartoon character trying to be funny," Hazelwood said.
"To me, it was offensive."
Jones and Boggess exchanged two letters prior to his execution. In her last
letter, she asked Boggess a question he may have taken with him: Did her
grandfather die quickly or languish in pain after he was shot?
"If there is a thing as lucky, my Papaw was lucky, compared to what Mr. Collier
had done to him," she said.
Boggess stabbed and beat Collier to death on July 23, 1986. Collier was stabbed
in the neck and upper lip, and Boggess fractured his sternum and three ribs,
according to an autopsy report.
Boggess took about $700 and some cigarettes after he stabbed the 86-year-old.
He didn't find the $950.11 in Collier's blood-soaked pants pocket.
On Aug. 21, 1986, Boggess shot Hazelwood twice with a shotgun at his
Whitesboro, Texas, grocery store. Boggess stole $400, cigarettes and some candy
when he robbed the store.
He was sentenced to life for killing the 70-year-old father of four. He was
later sentenced to death for Collier's murder.
Boggess spent more than 11 years appealing his conviction in state and federal
court. His first execution date was set for Nov. 12, 1993. Then it was Dec. 13,
1993. A successful appeal six hours before the Dec. 13 execution temporarily
spared his life.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Boggess' case, affirming the lower
Boggess then asked to die on his birthday.
It's not known if any legal effort was made to save his life Thursday. His Fort
Worth attorney, Mike Ware, couldn't be reached for comment. His secretary said
he was in West Virginia litigating a case in federal court.
Twelve hours before his execution, Boggess talked to his mother for 10 minutes
by telephone. He visited with his father at 10:15 a.m. In all, Boggess was
visited by two inmates and three other friends.
He refused lunch at 9:15 a.m. He was fed his last meal - two
double-cheeseburgers, salad, french fries, fudge brownies and cherry cake -
shortly after 3 p.m.
His remains were sent to a funeral home in Van, Texas, where a friend will have
Jones and Hazelwood said they also plan to visit a cemetery today, where they
will tell their loved ones about the execution and close a chapter in their
lives that Clifford Holt Boggess opened 12 years ago.
"I think we can share the good things in our lives, instead of the thing that
happened in 1986," Jones said.