Russ Lemmon: Relatives of victims happy to see David Alan Gore's execution day is almost here
Posted April 10, 2012 at 4:05 a.m.
With the long-awaited execution of serial killer David Alan Gore now just two days away, the reality of what's about to take place is sinking in for those making the trip to Starke.
Jeanne Elliott says her stress level has gone up considerably since Feb. 28, the day Gov. Rick Scott signed Gore's death warrant.
That's not the case with her ex-husband, Carl Elliott.
"The closer it gets, the better I feel," he said.
Their 17-year-old daughter, Lynn Elliott, was the last of Gore and cousin Fred Waterfield's six murder victims. Gore shot her to death on July 26, 1983.
Almost 29 years later, the moment Carl and Jeanne — now 81 and 69, respectively — have been waiting for is now in sight. They both plan on being in the front row for Thursday's execution.
They want to see Gore, who will be strapped on a gurney, carted into the execution chamber and given the lethal injection. Once that happens, he should be pronounced dead within 10 minutes.
The state gave potential witnesses to the execution a DVD to watch, preparing them for what might happen Thursday. They were warned, for example, Gore may make a final statement — or he might not.
"The (DVD) sort of prepared you emotionally," Carl said.
Carl and Jeanne will be joined in the execution viewing area by several relatives and a close friend.
Their son, Jason Elliott, has not decided whether he will witness the execution. He will give his uncles and cousins first opportunity, should seating be limited.
Jason, who lives in Orlando, will drive his parents to Starke.
"I'm looking forward to it for my parents," he said. "It's great that it's happening, but more so for them."
Lee Martin also plans to witness the execution. She is the mother of Regan Martin, who was abducted with Lynn Elliott but survived the ordeal.
Regan Martin, now 43, is married with two kids and living in Georgia.
"I know that I am not going to witness the execution. I really don't want to see his face again," Regan Martin said. "My husband will be going in my place and of course my mother will be there.
"There are a lot of people from my past that I would like to see — to support some and to let others know that I am OK and doing well, but I also value my privacy. I may go and stay in the background, in the waiting area. I'm not sure yet."
Gore and Waterfield killed four girls and two women in the early 1980s.
Gore was sentenced to death for the Elliott murder. Waterfield is serving life without parole at the Okeechobee Correctional Institution for the deaths of two 14-year-old girls, Barbara Ann Byer and Angel LaVallee.
Members of both the Byer and LaVallee families plan to witness the execution.
"I just think I should be there," said Barbara Ann's father, Mike Byer, who lives in North Carolina. "We really owe it to (Barbara Ann) to see it through."
Mike said he made the decision to attend after reading "The Serial Killer Whisperer." Pete Earley's book — which includes graphic letters from Gore — was published in January.
"The book just kind of made me sick," he said.
Nancy Byer will join her husband of 46 years as a witness.
"I want to see it finalized — done with," she said. "This execution needs to happen. It needs to happen for so many people. ... We're all left with this emptiness."
Gerri LaVallee says she often thinks of her late husband, Dick, and the stepdaughter she never knew (Angel).
"He and Angel are constantly with me," she said. "I wake up at night thinking about them."
Her husband was never the same after Angel was killed, she said. He died in 1997 at age 57.
"My husband should be by my side for this," she said.
It's a shame Gore has outlived some family members of the victims.
For Judy Kay Daley, who was Gore's third victim, Hildie Tripson is planning to witness Gore's execution.Hildie's husband, Mark, is a cousin to Mike Daley, Judy Kay's husband.
"I don't know how it works in heaven, but I feel comfortable doing this for Kay," Hildie said.
Some people against the death penalty asked Hildie why she would want to be a witness.
She tells them: "Don't you think Kay was against dying the way she died? She didn't have a choice at that moment."
Mike Daley, who lives in California, said he will be unable to make another cross-country trip to attend the execution. He and his brother were in Florida just last month.
"I don't need to be there," he said. "He'll be just as dead when it's over."
Meanwhile, Barbara Ann Byer's father, Mike, isn't a death penalty advocate by any means, but he believes executing Gore is the right thing to do.
"It's just something that needs to be done," he said. "I don't take pleasure in it. It's just something that needs to be done."
Will the execution bring closure to the victims' families?
Jeanne Elliott described it this way:
"I don't know if you'd say it's closure, but it's a weight that comes off you."
A tremendous weight, for email@example.com
I hope they have to drag this POS in kicking and screaming...starts crying when they strap him down...and $hits his pants when the needles are inserted. Sick, vile SOB!