The execution -- the 37th in Ohio since 1999 -- provided some closure to the family of the victim, Angel Vincent, a 16-year-old from Elyria whom Durr raped and killed in 1988. But family members did not get an apology, or even an admission of guilt from Durr. During an unusually long final speech, Durr said he regretted his innocence could not be proven by DNA testing of a necklace belonging to Angel. Multiple courts had rejected Durr's appeals to halt the execution.
Angel's mother expressed sorrow for Durr's family but was upset he didn't admit his guilt. "I just wanted him to say he was sorry," Norma Godsey said though tears after the execution. "I didn't know what I was going to think to watch that man die. But I'm not sorry I watched it." "He took everything from me," she said.
Angel was Godsey's only child. Godsey left Angel alone at their Elyria home the night of Jan. 31 to go to a Super Bowl party. Durr, who was 24 at the time, dated and lived with Angel's neighbor and classmate, Deborah Mullins. Mullins and Durr had a baby together weeks before the murder. Godsey said Durr named the baby Angel because he was obsessed with her daughter. The night Angel was home alone, Durr kidnapped her, strangled her with a dog chain and hid her body inside two construction cones, placed end to end, in a ravine near Denison Avenue and Fulton Road in Cleveland. Boys playing in the area discovered Angel's body three months later.
Godsey said she began to drink and smoke heavily after her daughter's death. Once a big sports fan, she hasn't watched a baseball or football game since, she said Tuesday. She said she even tried to commit suicide to be with her daughter. Godsey, who uses portable oxygen, wheezed and sniffled as she walked into the Death House at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. She sat down and asked for a bucket in case she became nauseous. She never had to use it.
TV screens inside the side-by-side witness rooms showed medical personnel preparing Durr for execution in a holding cell. He lay motionless as an IV site was established in each arm, a process that took about 13 minutes. Durr was then escorted into the execution chamber. Prison warden Donald Morgan stood over Durr as the execution team strapped him in at the ankles, knees, chest and wrists.
At 10:22, Morgan reached for the microphone in the room and offered Durr a chance to speak his last words: "To the Vincent family who I believe are here and who believe I have caused so much pain and believe I have murdered their daughter, I am truly sorry you believe that way, having been through that pain myself. I had hoped DNA testing would allow me to prove my innocence, but unfortunately, that's not going to happen. "To my momma minister, we are born in this life in struggle and I planned to go out in a struggle, but I want to make you proud. I'll go out in peace. To my cousin, please take care of my children. Tell my children and my wife I love them. To my wife, I love her. It's been 20 years in this life and I will see her in the next life."
A 5-gram dose of thiopental sodium, a type of anesthesia, was then sent through the tubes hooked up to Durr's left arm. A few minutes after he spoke, Durr picked his head up and looked at the witnesses. He put his head back down, then he sat up again as best he could and grimaced before opening his mouth to exhale.
One of the four witnesses at the execution on Durr's behalf then began to wail. "Oh, God," said Durr's spiritual adviser, the Rev. Georgina Thornton. "Oh, Jesus." As Durr's head eased back onto the bed, his eyes were closed and his mouth kept moving, as if he was mumbling. His left fist remained clenched. Durr lay motionless for a few minutes before a member of the execution team checked his breathing. A curtain was then pulled across the glass between the witness rooms and the execution chamber while a coroner examined Durr.
"That son of a bitch is dead," said Wesley Brewer, Angel's uncle and one of three witnesses from the victim's family. Godsey tried to quiet Brewer, but he continued. "It was too humane. I'd rather have seen him in an electric chair." The curtain was pulled back and Durr's body remained on the bed as the warden announced his time of death.
In one of his three appeals to halt the execution, Durr claimed an allergy to anesthesia. The appeal, along with two others, was denied by multiple courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday night. Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman Julie Walburn said the execution went smoothly. "We have no reason to believe he was in any pain whatsoever," she said