Man who killed Prince William couple in 2001 is executed

Larry Elliott
Larry Elliott (Anonymous - AP)
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By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

JARRATT, VA. -- A former Army counterintelligence officer who became obsessed with an adult escort he met on the Internet was executed by electrocution Tuesday night for killing a young couple in Prince William County in 2001 to impress and help the woman.

Larry "Bill" Elliott, 60, of Hanover, Md., was electrocuted in Virginia's 101-year-old electric chair in the Greensville Correctional Center's death chamber, just the fifth condemned inmate to choose that method of execution since the state introduced lethal injections in 1995. He was placed in the oak armchair and secured at 8:58 p.m. After two 90-second cycles of electric current, Elliott was pronounced dead at 9:08 p.m.

Instead of making an oral statement, Elliott said he didn't know how much time he had to speak, so he gave a written statement to his attorneys.

He expressed sympathy for the families of Dana Thrall and Robert Finch. "I am deeply sorry that someone killed your loved ones," he wrote. But he maintained his innocence, denouncing the criminal justice system he said he defended while in the Army.

"Perhaps God's purpose for my death is to demonstrate just how fractured our judicial system has become," Elliott said. "In this great country, we should not arrest and convict innocent people of any crime, let alone capital murder, nor should we kill innocent people as the Commonwealth of Virginia has done today."

Larry Traylor, a Department of Corrections spokesman, said Elliott chose a final meal but did not want it made public.

Elliott entered the death chamber just before 9 p.m., and six correctional officers fixed him to the chair with wide leather straps. His head was shaved, as was his right leg, where the electrical contacts were clamped. A leather mask was put across his face, concealing all but his nose.

Then, at 9:03 p.m., one officer turned a key in the back of the room, and another concealed officer pushed a button marked "execute" in an adjoining room. The jolt of electricity caused Elliott to jerk back and upright into the chair, his hands gripping the oak arms. Smoke rose from his leg and his head. After two cycles of electricity, a doctor put a stethoscope to Elliott's chest and declared him dead.

The case

Elliott was the second person executed in Virginia in the past week, after the lethal injection of Washington area sniper John Allen Muhammad on Nov. 10. Both were convicted in Prince William and prosecuted by Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert, who has now had nine of his cases result in executions. A 10th case of Ebert's involved a condemned inmate who committed suicide, and Ebert successfully prosecuted four of the remaining 14 people on Virginia's death row.

"Elliott's crime was vile, and the evidence was extremely clear," Ebert said before the execution. "Our country trained him to be a killer. Because of his intelligence and his capabilities, he became very dangerous."

Elliott was convicted of capital murder in the slayings of Finch, 30, and Thrall, 25, in their Woodbridge townhouse in January 2001. Finch was shot multiple times in the doorway of the townhouse in the early morning darkness, and Thrall, who ran downstairs because of the noise, was pistol whipped before the killer reloaded and shot her in the face as she tried to get to a phone.

Thrall's two boys, then 4 and 6, were upstairs and heard her screams.

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