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boggess put to death - the times record news, witchita falls,tx

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 here.

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 6:12 p.m.

"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 miss you.

"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 death.

"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 court's conviction.

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 him buried.

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.

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