HUNTSVILLE, Texas — The man convicted of the 1998 murder of Montgomery College student Melissa Trotter, 19, was executed by the state of Texas Wednesday night.
A Montgomery County jury convicted Larry Swearingen, 48, and sentenced him to death. Trotter was found strangled to death by a pair of pantyhose in the Sam Houston National Forest.
At his execution, Swearingen had no witnesses present and did not turn his head to look at anyone as he made his final statement, "Lord forgive them, they don't know what they are doing."
Then as the lethal dose began, he claimed he could hear and taste it going into his veins, burning he said in his right arm.
Twelve minutes later at 6:47 p.m. he was pronounced dead.
Watching from the viewing room, were Melissa Trotter's parents, brother, grandfather and uncle.
Afterwards, they released a statement though Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jeremy Desel saying, "Today, justice was served for Melissa." The family also thanked law enforcement and said now they can move forward and begin to heal.
Swearingen had filed a last minute appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. His attorney James Rytting said, "We have legitimate forensic science, medical examiners whose reports exonerate my client."
However, it was denied Wednesday evening along with the flood of other appeals filed over the years claiming his innocence and challenging the evidence presented at trial.
This was the sixth time Swearingen had an execution date set.
"A bad man got what he deserved tonight," said Kelly Blackburn, Trial Bureau Chief for Montgomery County District Attorney's Office. "Larry Swearingen is every parent's worst nightmare." Blackburn said Swearingen was always a manipulator, even in his dying words.
Prosecutors have always maintained Swearingen was the last person Trotter was seen with alive.
They also presented evidence at trial showing she had been in his truck and car.
Trotter would have turned 40 this year. Her parents' statement ended outside the Huntsville death chamber by saying, “We want Melissa to be remembered as a happy, loving, kind spirit with a beautiful smile.”
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