RICHMOND, DEC. 13 -- Buddy Earl Justus, who was under death sentence in three states, was executed in Virginia's electric chair tonight for the 1978 rape and murder of a pregnant nurse.

Justus, 38, was pronounced dead at 11:06 p.m. at the State Penitentiary here.

He made no final statement. Hours before, Justus said he had no one to blame but himself.

Prison Chaplain Russ Ford told Justus shortly before a mask was placed over the condemned killer's face, "Be strong. You'll move on."

Justus was condemned to die for the Oct. 3, 1978, rape and murder of Ida Mae Moses of Montgomery County, Va.

Moses was just 10 days away from delivering her baby when Justus broke into her home, assaulted her and shot her in the head.

Justus had asked Gov. L. Douglas Wilder to either commute his sentence to life or watch the execution in person, but Wilder, who declined to intervene in two previous executions, refused.

On Wednesday, a Georgetown University law professor filed a clemency petition with Wilder saying Justus suffered damage to the front of his brain, the part of the mind that controls violent and aggressive behavior, before he went on his rampage.

After killing Moses, Justus, an abused child who later married and divorced his foster mother, moved on to kill a woman in Florida, and then another in Georgia, before his arrest on Oct. 11, 1978.

Speaking by telephone today, Justus told Roanoke radio station WFIR he was "at peace."

He told the station he was "ready to go to a better place. In order to be forgiven, you've got to forgive others."

Justus said he accepted responsibility and that drugs played a key role in a four-day crime rampage in which he slew Moses; Stephanie Hawkins, a sunglasses saleswoman in Lakeland, Fla.; and Rosemary Jackson, a Gwinnett County, Ga., housewife.

"I still take the responsibility solely for myself because I wasn't strong enough to turn away" and avoid drugs and handle the child abuse, he told the station.

"I hold responsibility for my actions because I should have been strong enough to resist those drugs," he said.

He also said he was prepared to die even though he opposed capital punishment.

"We are supposed to be a society that's supposed to be caring . . . and that to continue capital punishment is taking steps backward. There's better ways to deal with it than to take lives," he said.

Justus said he tried to commit suicide at Mecklenburg Correctional Center several months ago because he felt his life no longer had a useful purpose.

Several anti-death penalty protesters gathered outside the prison before the execution and were told by Father John Boddie, a prison chaplain, that executions are "ritualized evil."

Justus was the 11th person executed in Virginia and the 143rd in the United States since the Supreme Court lifted a ban on capital punishment in 1976.

The State Penitentiary, including the main building, which dates to 1804, will be emptied of inmates Friday, but the electric chair will remain until a new death chamber is completed at the new prison near Jarratt in southern Virginia.