Texas Executes Man Who Murdered Witnesses in 1988 
Nov. 20, 2002 21:09 EDT

HUNTSVILLE, Texas - Texas on Wednesday executed a man who in 1988 shot to death three people in retaliation killings related to an earlier child molestation conviction. 

William Chappell, 66, became the oldest person executed in the state since it resumed capital punishment 20 years ago and was the second man put to death by lethal injection in Texas in as many days. 

Chappell is the 31st person put to death this year in Texas, by far the nation's most active death penalty state. He is the 287th inmate executed in Texas since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982, six years after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a national death penalty ban. 

Chappell was free on appeal in the molestation case when he murdered Martha Lindsey, Alexandra Heath and Elbert Sitton of Fort Worth, Texas, in 1988. 

Lindsey was the grandmother and Heath the aunt of a three-year-old girl Chappell was found guilty of molesting. Sitton was the grandfather of the girl. 

Chappell had vowed revenge against the family after his conviction, testimony showed. 

After the attack, Sitton survived long enough to give police a description of the man who shot him. Chappell is also believed to have attempted to burn down Lindsey's house. 

Chappell died protesting his innocence in the murders and the molestation, claiming further DNA testing would have exonerated him in the slayings. 

``I know you think I did this and I'm sure you think this is wonderful in your eyes,'' Chappell told relatives of the victims in his final statement while strapped to the gurney in the death chamber. ``But let me tell you something, there were two DNA tests done and none matched me. I wanted a third, but that never happened.'' 

``You are murdering me,'' he said, ``and I feel sorry for you.'' He told the relatives to go to church and seek forgiveness. 

The two women were both shot in the face while lying in bed. Sitton was shot six times. 

For his final meal, Chappell requested the meal being served in the main inmate cafeteria. 

On Tuesday, Texas executed Craig Ogan for the 1989 murder of a Houston police officer. Two inmates are to be executed in December, and 13 are scheduled to die by lethal injection in first three months of 2003. 

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