Mexican citizen executed in Va. despite pleas from government

By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 18, 1997; 12:00 AM

JARRATT, VA., SEPT. 17 -- Mario Benjamin Murphy, a Mexican citizen convicted in the 1991 murder-for-hire killing of a Navy cook in Virginia Beach, was executed tonight despite pleas for clemency from the Mexican government.

The U.S. Supreme Court and Gov. George Allen (R) rejected requests to avert the execution. Allen, in denying clemency, issued a seven-page statement concluding that Murphy had a fair trial, that there was no evidence of "discrimination based on national origin or ethnicity" and that the punishment fit the crime, which he called "a coldly premeditated, brutal murder."

Murphy, 25, died by injection at the Greensville Correctional Center here.

Before the injection was begun, Murphy said, "Today's a good day to die." After it started, he looked around, started to laugh and said: "I forgive all of you. I hope God does, too." He was pronounced dead at 9:09 p.m.

Mexican officials and Murphy's attorneys said that under an international treaty, Murphy should have been allowed to consult with Mexican Embassy officials in Washington immediately after his arrest.

The Mexican government offered to imprison Murphy in Mexico if Allen would spare his life. Instead, he became the 43rd person executed in Virgina since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

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