Clagett Dies in Electric Chair for '94 Killings

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By Frank Green
Reuters
Friday, July 7, 2000; 12:00 AM

JARRATT, Va., July 6 -- A man who urged the state to execute him for shooting four people in the head during a $400 robbery at a Virginia Beach bar was put to death in Virginia's electric chair tonight.

Michael David Clagett, 39, was pronounced dead at 9:08 p.m. at the Greensville Correctional Center, said Larry Traylor, spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections.

Asked if he wanted to make a final statement, Clagett broke into tears and asked the families of those he had slain to forgive him.

Clagett shot and killed four people, including a bar owner who had befriended him, during a robbery at the Witchduck Inn, a neighborhood bar in Virginia Beach, on June 30, 1994. He was convicted of murdering business owner Lam Son, 41, employees Wendell Parish, 32, and Karen Sue Rounds, 31, and a patron, Abdelaziz Gren, 34. Each was shot once in the head.

The day after the killings, police found Clagett passed out in some bushes near an apartment building. Unsteady on his feet and smelling of alcohol, he was arrested for public intoxication.

Clagett's girlfriend and accomplice in the slayings, Denise Holsinger, 35, had already tipped off police that Clagett was involved.

At the police station, Clagett was questioned by detectives and admitted to the killings. He said the victims were shot while he and Holsinger robbed the inn of $400.

In the videotaped interview, Clagett told police: "You can fry me. That's what I'm going to ask for when we go to court. Fry me, I'm not gonna live. I don't want the taxpayers supporting me. I did it. Yeah, I did it all."

Clagett got his wish. He was only the second person to die in the electric chair since condemned prisoners in Virginia were given the option of lethal injection in 1995. Fifty-one inmates have opted for lethal injection since then.

Lanna Son, Son's widow, said her husband had been in the Vietnamese special forces and was imprisoned by the North Vietnamese when South Vietnam fell. He later fled to the United States on a boat.

"What makes me real bitter, is my husband, after he went through all that, and then he just got killed execution-style by Michael Clagett," Lanna Son said in a recent interview.

Her husband had taken pity on Clagett, even cooked him meals, she said.

"He [Clagett] always looked real scary. Long hair, stringy-looking, he looked exactly like a bum," she said. "I had warned my husband . . . 'You better be careful.' "

Clagett was convicted of the capital murders after a 10-day trial and received four death sentences. Holsinger received five life sentences plus 23 years for her role.

Clagett was the fourth person executed in Virginia this year and the 77th since the death penalty was reintroduced in 1976. The U.S. Supreme Court turned down his request for a stay of execution, and Clagett did not ask Gov. James S. Gilmore III for clemency, said his lawyer, Patrick O'Donnell.


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