Final words of Texas death row inmate executed for the murder of his estranged wife’s family

Billie Wayne Coble, 70, was executed by lethal injection at 6.24pm Thursday

Billie Wayne Coble, 70, was executed by lethal injection at 6.24pm Thursday

Billie Wayne Coble, 70, was executed by lethal injection at 6.24pm Thursday

A Texas death row inmate who murdered his estranged wife’s parents and brother has been executed tonight.

Billie Wayne Coble was put to death by lethal injection in the state’s death chamber in Huntsville at 6.24pm after an appeals court rejected a bid to delay the process.

In a bizarre final statement, the 70-year-old said: ‘Yes sir, that will be five dollars. I love you, I love you and I love you.

‘Mike, I love you. Where’s Nelley at? I love you, that will be five dollars. Take care.’ 

Coble’s son Gordon and grandson Dalton were arrested following an outburst in which they starting banging on the glass  

Both men – along with another relative – were removed from the room before the execution ended. They were charged with resisting arrest and were being held in the Walker County Jail on Thursday night.

It comes thirty years after the August 1989 shootings of Robert and Zelda Vicha, and their son Bobby Vicha, at their homes in Axtell, northeast of Waco.  

Coble is the third convict executed this year in the United States and the second in the Lone Star state, which puts to death the most inmates.

He is the oldest man executed in Texas since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. The oldest in the US is serial bomber Walter Moody, put to death last year in Alabama at the age of 83.

Coble’s attorneys asked the US Supreme Court to delay the execution, arguing his original trial lawyers were negligent for conceding his guilt by failing to present an insanity defense before a jury convicted him of capital murder.

A state appeals court rejected Coble’s request to delay Thursday’s execution and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles turned down his request for a commutation.

Coble ‘does not deny that he bears responsibility for the victims’ loss of life, but he nonetheless wanted his lawyers to present a defense on his behalf,’ his attorney, A. Richard Ellis, said in his appeal to the Supreme Court.

Coble is a convicted murderer who shot dead his wife's parents and her brother in 1989

Coble is a convicted murderer who shot dead his wife's parents and her brother in 1989

Coble is a convicted murderer who shot dead his wife’s parents and her brother in 1989

In Coble’s clemency petition to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, Ellis said his client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from his time as a Marine during the Vietnam War.

Ellis claims Coble was convicted, in part, due to misleading testimony from two prosecution expert witnesses on whether he would be a future danger.

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J.R. Vicha, Bobby Vicha’s son, said it will be a relief knowing the execution will have finally taken place after years of delays.

‘Still, the way they do it is more humane than what he did to my family. It’s not what he deserves but it will be good to know we got as much justice as allowed by the law,’ said J.R. Vicha, who was 11 when he was tied up and threatened by Coble during the killings.

Prosecutors said Coble, distraught over his pending divorce, kidnapped his wife, Karen Vicha. He was arrested and later freed on bond.

In August 1989, Coble drove to the homes of Robert and Zelda Vicha (pictured), and their son Bobby Vicha, in Axtell, northeast of Waco, before going on a shooting spree

In August 1989, Coble drove to the homes of Robert and Zelda Vicha (pictured), and their son Bobby Vicha, in Axtell, northeast of Waco, before going on a shooting spree

In August 1989, Coble drove to the homes of Robert and Zelda Vicha (pictured), and their son Bobby Vicha, in Axtell, northeast of Waco, before going on a shooting spree

Nine days after the kidnapping, Coble went to Karen Vicha’s home, where he handcuffed and tied up her three daughters and J.R. Vicha.

He then went to the homes of Robert and Zelda Vicha, 64 and 60 respectively, and Bobby Vicha, 39, who lived nearby, and fatally shot them. 

After Karen Vicha returned home, Coble abducted her and drove off, assaulting her and threatening to rape and kill her. 

He was arrested after wrecking in neighboring Bosque County following a police chase.

Coble was convicted of capital murder in 1990. In 2007, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new trial on punishment. On retrial in 2008, a second jury sentenced him to death.

Crawford Long, the former first assistant district attorney in McLennan County who helped retry Coble in 2008, said his ‘heart full of scorpions’ description of Coble was fitting.

His attorneys asked to delay execution, arguing trial lawyers were negligent for not presenting an insanity defense 

His attorneys asked to delay execution, arguing trial lawyers were negligent for not presenting an insanity defense 

His attorneys asked to delay execution, arguing trial lawyers were negligent for not presenting an insanity defense 

‘He had no remorse at all,’ said Long, who retired in 2010.

J.R. Vicha, 40, still lives in the Waco area. He eventually became a prosecutor for eight years, a career choice inspired in part by his father, who was a police sergeant in Waco when he was killed. 

His grandfather was a retired plumber and his grandmother worked for a foot doctor.

Vicha, now a private practice lawyer, is working to get a portion of a highway near his home renamed in honor of his father.

‘Every time I run into somebody that knew (his father and grandparents), it’s a good feeling. And when I hear stories about them, it still makes it feel like they’re kinda still here,’ Vicha said.

Link hienalouca.com

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