Thursday, February 13, 2003

No last words as killer executed

Fox appears calm on his final day

By Liz Sidoti
The Associated Press


LUCASVILLE, Ohio - A calm and quiet Richard E. Fox was executed Wednesday for his 14-year-old crime of kidnapping, strangling and stabbing a college student he had lured to a fake job interview.

The 47-year-old politely declined to make a final statement and kept his eyes closed as three drugs were injected into his arms in the death chamber of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.

"No, sir," Fox answered when Warden James Haviland asked if he would like to say any last words.

Fox was brought into the death chamber at 10 a.m. Clemency was denied a week ago, and a court had refused to consider his claim that he should be resentenced.

Fox was executed for killing Leslie Keckler, 18, near Bowling Green after she rejected his advances.

"Justice has been served," Chad Keckler, one of her brothers, said later, standing in front of 12 friends and relatives holding hands. "Leslie and my mother can now be at peace."

The heavyset, balding Fox was strapped to a white-clothed gurney.

Facing the ceiling, he avoided looking at witnesses, guards or the warden, who stood next to him. His hands were open, palms facing up and his eyes were closed, fluttering only briefly as the drugs began to take effect.

His chest and stomach rose and fell quickly more than a dozen times, the force of the air causing his lips to sputter and his chin to shudder.

As his breathing appeared to slow, Haviland watched his chest closely for several minutes before nodding to the doctor to determine the time of death - 10:13 a.m.

Fox, of Tontogany in northwest Ohio, killed Keckler, of Bowling Green, on Sept. 26, 1989. Fox confessed and was convicted in 1990 of aggravated murder and kidnapping.

Authorities say Fox stabbed Keckler six times in the back, then drove to a secluded road where, he told police, he strangled her with a rope "just to make sure she was dead."' Her body was found four days later in a ditch.

Jessica Fox, at her father's request, decided Tuesday night against watching him die.

Fox's daughter, 20, had wanted to be with her father to the very end, but changed her mind after spending time with him Tuesday, Fox's lawyer said.

Outside the prison stood about 100 anti-death penalty protesters, many of them students from Catholic high schools in Cleveland and Cincinnati.

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