CARSON CITY, NEV., JUNE 3 -- Convicted killer Thomas Baal died by injection early today after opposing his parents' eleventh-hour legal effort to keep him alive.
Baal, 26, was pronounced dead at 7:05 a.m. (10:05 a.m. EDT), nine minutes after a mixture of three lethal drugs was pumped through tubes into his arms as he lay strapped on a table at the Nevada State Prison.
The execution came hours after the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-to-4 to erase a federal appeals court ruling blocking the execution.
The former mental patient, who stabbed a bus driver to death in Las Vegas during a 1988 robbery, "was glad it was finally going forward, and he started to make phone calls to friends and relatives," prison spokesman Glen Whorton said.
The high court voted just after midnight to erase a stay granted Saturday by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals at the request of Edwin and Doris Baal. The majority held there was no basis for the 9th Circuit conclusion that a lower federal court in Reno erred in not holding an evidentiary hearing on Baal's competency.
The Supreme Court was asked by the Nevada attorney general's office to cancel the stay. The prosecution petition included a statement from Baal that he is not insane or incompetent and "I want to have this execution over with so that I can pay my debt."
His parents said they were shocked prosecutors went to their son's cell at the prison to get the statement. The parents contended Baal's long-term mental problems and brain damage prevented him from making a rational decision about his appeals.
Frances Maves, 34, died Feb. 26, 1988, after when she was robbed and stabbed as she was checking over her shuttle bus at the Hughes Air Terminal in Las Vegas.
According to Baal's confession, she gave him $20 when he demanded money but he demanded more, and a struggle ensued. "You shouldn't have done that," he said, according to his confession. "Now you pay. I sentence you to death."
Baal's execution was Nevada's fifth and the 129th nationally since the Supreme Court in 1976 cleared the way for states to reinstate the death penalty.