Killer who raped 16-year-old and buried her alive says ‘tell my kids I love them’ as he is put to death in 8th federal execution under Trump – after Supreme Court denied an 11th-hour legal challenge
- Orlando Hall, 49, executed in Indiana Thursday for the 1994 murder of Lisa Rene
- Rene was kidnapped from her Texas home, gang-raped over two days, beaten and buried alive in Arkansas as revenge for a botched $5,000 marijuana deal
- Execution was put on hold after judge raised concerns about drug being used
- Supreme Court overturned that ruling after six hours, and Hall was put to death
- His last words were ‘I’m OK’ and ‘take care of yourselves, tell my kids I love them’
A killer convicted of kidnapping, raping and burying alive a 16-year-old girl has been executed in Indiana.
Orlando Hall, 49, was put to death by lethal injection late Thursday for the 1994 murder of Lisa Rene in Texas.
Rene was kidnapped at gunpoint from her home by a group of men and taken to Arkansas where she was murdered as revenge for a botched $5,000 marijuana deal.
Hall is the eighth person to be put to death since the Trump administration restarted federal executions in July, ending a 17-year hiatus.
He is also thought to be the first person executed under an outgoing administration in over a century.
Orlando Hall, 49 (left), who was convicted over the 1994 kidnap, rape, and murder of 16-year-old Lisa Rene (right) in Texas, was executed by lethal injection in Indiana on Thursday
A judge’s stay of execution over concerns about the execution drug gave Hall a reprieve, but for less than six hours.
After the Supreme Court overturned the stay, he was put to death just before midnight.
Hall, a changed man in prison according to his lawyers and a church volunteer who had grown close to him, was consoling his family and supporters at the end.
‘I’m OK,’ he said in a final statement, then adding, ‘Take care of yourselves. Tell my kids I love them.’
As the drug was administered, Hall, 49, lifted his head, appeared to wince briefly and twitched his feet.
He appeared to mumble to himself and twice he opened his mouth wide, as if he was yawning. Each time that was followed by short, seemingly labored, breaths.
He then stopped breathing. Soon after, an official with a stethoscope came into the execution chamber to check for a heartbeat before Hall was officially declared dead.
Hall was among four men convicted in the abduction and death of Lisa Rene in 1994.
According to federal court documents, Hall was a marijuana trafficker in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who would sometimes buy drugs in the Dallas area.
On Sept. 24, 1994, he met two men at a Dallas-area car wash and gave them $4,700 with the expectation they would return later with the marijuana. The two men were Rene´s brothers.
Instead, the men claimed their car and money were stolen. Hall and others figured they were lying and were able to track down the address of the brothers´ apartment in Arlington, Texas.
Hall (pictured left) was one of four men convicted for the crime. Two were given prison sentences – Demetrius Hall, Orlando’s brother (center) and Steven Beckley (right), in return for testimony used against Hall
Bruce Webster (left) was also sentenced to death for the murder of Rene (right), but the sentence was scrapped last year after a judge ruled Webster is mentally disabled
When Hall and three other men arrived, the brothers weren´t there. Lisa Rene was home, alone.
Court records offer a chilling account of the terror she faced.
‘They´re trying to break down my door! Hurry up!’ she told a 911 dispatcher. A muffled scream is heard seconds later, with a man saying, ‘Who you on the phone with?’ The line then goes dead.
‘She was studying for a test and had her textbooks on the couch when these guys came knocking on the front door,’ retired Arlington detective John Stanton Sr. recalled.
Police arrived within minutes of the 911 call, but the men were gone, with Rene. Stanton still winces at the near-miss of thwarting the crime in its early stages.
‘It was one that I won´t ever forget,’ Stanton said. ‘This one was particularly heinous.’
The men drove to a motel in Pine Bluff. Rene was repeatedly sexually assaulted during the drive and at the motel over the next two days.
On Sept. 26, Hall and two other men drove Rene to Byrd Lake Natural Area in Pine Bluff, her eyes covered by a mask.
They led her to a grave site they had dug a day earlier. Hall placed a sheet over Rene´s head then hit her in the head with a shovel.
When she ran another man and Hall took turns hitting her with the shovel before she was gagged and dragged into the grave, where she was doused in gasoline before dirt was shoveled over her.
A coroner determined that Rene was still alive when she was buried and died of asphyxiation in the grave, where she was found eight days later.
The crime took place just days before Bill Clinton signed the 1994 Crime Bill into law by Bill Clinton, massively expanding use of the death penalty.
Hall’s execution was the eighth to be carried out since Trump restarted federal executions in July, and is thought to be the first under an outgoing administration in more than a century
One of the 60 new offenses that were punishable by death under the bill was ‘kidnapping resulting in death.’
Hall was one of the first to be prosecuted under the new law, using testimony given by his brother Demetrius Hall and co-conspirator Steven Beckley in exchange for prison sentences.
Hall and another man, Bruce Webster, were ultimately tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for the murder.
Speaking at trial, Prosecutor Paul Macaluso declared: ‘You can live your whole life and have a myriad of experiences and never know that evil exists.
‘Then you meet someone like Orlando Hall. He’s proof positive of it.’
Webster is still in jail after his death sentence was vacated by a judge after his lawyers successfully argued that mental disability made him ineligible.
Hall’s lawyers had appealed the sentence on the basis that he was convicted by an all-white jury, arguing that racial bias played a role in sentencing.
They also argued that missteps by Hall’s attorneys during preparation for his initial trial meant the jury didn’t see evidence – including a long history of family abuse – that may have moved them to save his life.
None of the appeals were successful.
Rene´s older sister, Pearl Rene, said in a statement that she and her family ‘are very relieved that this is over.
‘We have been dealing with this for 26 years and now we´re having to relive the tragic nightmare that our beloved Lisa went through.’
Crossing the Texas-Arkansas line made the case a federal crime. One of Hall´s accomplices, Bruce Webster, also was sentenced to death, though a court last year vacated the sentence because Webster is intellectually disabled.
Three other men, including Hall´s brother, received lesser sentences in exchange for their cooperation at trial.
Hall´s lawyers contend that jurors who recommended the death penalty weren´t told of the severe trauma he faced as a child or that he once saved a 3-year-old nephew from drowning by leaping into a motel pool from a balcony.
Donna Keogh, 67, first met Hall 16 years ago when she and other volunteers from her Catholic church set up a program to provide Christmas presents for children of inmates at the federal prison. They have corresponded ever since.
She doesn´t understand what executing Hall accomplishes.
‘My faith tells me that all life is precious and that includes the lives on death row,’ Keogh said. ‘I just don´t see any purpose.’
Five of the first six federal executions this year involved white men; the other was Navajo. Christopher Vialva, who was Black, was put to death Sept. 24.
Critics have argued that executing white inmates first was a political calculation in a nation embroiled in racial bias concerns involving the criminal justice system, especially in the aftermath of George Floyd´s death in Minneapolis in May.
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