Tommy David Strickler, who abducted and killed a James Madison University student, was executed by injection tonight after last-minute appeals were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court and Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R).

Strickler, 33, was pronounced dead at 9:05 p.m. at the Greensville Correctional Center here.

In a final statement, Strickler maintained his innocence.

"I did not do it. I hope everyone else will find the peace I have found," Strickler said. "And to all my family, I love them dearly. I will always be with them."

Strickler was convicted of the 1990 slaying of Leann Whitlock, a 19-year-old James Madison sophomore from Roanoke.

Strickler's attorney contended in an appeal that co-defendant Ronald Lee Henderson, who received three life terms, was the killer and that a key witness lied at Strickler's trial.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the appeal Tuesday, and the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order this evening rejecting a stay and the appeal.

Gilmore's rejection of a clemency request followed. The governor noted that Strickler's conviction and sentence had been upheld on multiple appeals.

Strickler's attorney argued that Donna Kay Tudor, a key prosecution witness, lied at the trial about Strickler's role and admitted she had done so in a letter to her husband on June 24, 1994.

Tudor purportedly wrote: "You was right I lied in court on Strickler but I had to I know only he tryed to save the girl."

State experts who examined the letter said the handwriting is a forgery.

Strickler had won a stay from the Supreme Court just two days before he was to be executed last September. But last month, the high court upheld his sentence.

Whitlock was abducted from the parking lot of a Harrisonburg shopping mall and found dead eight days later in a wooded area of Augusta County. Police said her head had been struck four times with a 69-pound boulder.

Strickler and Tudor were arrested Jan. 9, 1990, after abandoning the car Whitlock had been driving.

Henderson, who had fled, was arrested and tried after Strickler's trial.

CAPTION: Tommy David Strickler, 33, was executed at the prison in Jarratt.