A man who killed a Hampton police officer because he was upset about his brother's drug arrest was executed by injection tonight.
Thomas Lee Royal Jr., 32, was put to death for shooting Officer Kenny Wallace in the head in 1994. Royal was pronounced dead at 9:06 p.m. at the Greensville Correctional Center.
Asked for a final statement, Royal said: "I just want to say, how you're going to kill a man when a man is willing to die? Remember, Wallace wasn't willing to die."
He then paused and said: "Let's roll."
Outside the prison, 75 to 100 death penalty opponents stood in a field and listened as Bud Welch, whose 23-year-old daughter, Julie, was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing, said he realized about a year after the 1995 tragedy that executing bomber Timothy McVeigh wouldn't make anything better for him.
"Tonight, the state of Virginia is teaching hate to their children," Welch told the crowd.
Royal was baptized by the Rev. Bob West, a volunteer chaplain, about 4 1/2 hours before he was executed. "He's prepared to die," West said as he entered the witness booth shortly before the death sentence was carried out.
Less than three hours before the execution, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay and final appeal in Royal's case, and Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) rejected a clemency plea.
Royal unexpectedly pleaded guilty during jury selection for his murder trial. He had planned to kill a police officer to retaliate for his brother's arrest on drug charges. When Royal discovered Wallace in the patrol car instead of the officer he intended to kill, he shot Wallace on Feb. 21, 1994.
Barbara L. Hartung, Royal's attorney, had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review rulings by the Virginia Supreme Court and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the death sentence handed down in October 1994. She also submitted a clemency petition to Gilmore.
Royal had ineffective defense counsel, and prosecutors withheld evidence that favored his case, Hartung said.
After Royal pleaded guilty, evidence emerged that a corrupt state trooper had planted a .380-caliber semiautomatic pistol near the crime scene. Ballistics tests showed it was not used in the Wallace shooting. The trooper, Roy Richards, is serving a federal prison sentence for crimes unrelated to Royal's case.
Hartung also said Royal's trial attorneys failed to do forensic testing on any of the other bullets found in connection with the shooting. She said testing could have proved that one of the other three men involved in the crime fired the fatal shot.
Royal was the 13th person executed in Virginia this year.
CAPTION: Thomas Lee Royal Jr. pleaded guilty during jury selection for his trial in the death of a Hampton officer.