Executed July 20, 2000 by Lethal Injection in Oklahoma
W / M / 28 - 39
55th murderer executed in U.S. in 2000
653rd murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
10th murderer executed in Oklahoma in 2001
29th murderer executed in Oklahoma since 1976
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Gregg Francis Braun
Gwendolyn Sue Miller
W / F / 28
W / F / 27
W / F / 28
W / M / 54
W / F / 48
Gregg Braun was sentenced to die for the 1989 murder of Gwendolyn Sue Miller, 31, in an $80 flower shop robbery in Ardmore, Oklahoma. A customer was shot in the head and robbed of $600 and the bookkeeper was also shot. He also murdered four other people in a multi-state crime spree. Each of the five murder victims was found shot in the back of the head with a .25-caliber handgun. After pleading guilty and receiving life sentences in both New Mexico and Kansas, Braun pled guilty without an agreement in Oklahoma and was sentenced to death for the murder of Miller. Braun was the son of a prominent lawyer and had a college degree in criminal justice.
W / M / 28 - 39
Oklahoma Department of Corrections
Death Penalty Institute of OklahomaGregg Braun - Executed July 20, 2000. (Compiled and Edited by Robert Peebles)
Gregg Francis Braun, 39, was put to death by lethal injection at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. He was pronounced dead at 12:17am. His execution was witnessed by 39 members of the five persons he had killed in 1989. Twelve of the witnesses watched the execution from a viewing room in the death chamber, while 27 watched through close-circuit television. Braun had requested only one witness, Rev Chi Peter Phung, a Catholic priest. Braun had asked his family members not to witness his execution.
Braun was the 10th man put to death by the state this year and the 29th since the state resumed capital punishment in 1977. He was also the 55th person executed in the United States this year and the 653rd since the reinstatement of capital punishment.
On July 19, 1989, Barbara Kochendorfer, 27, and Mary Rains, 28, both of Garden City, Kansas, were murdered. Each of the women worked in convenience stores in Garden City. They were abducted from their respective places of work in two separate incidents. Both women were shot in the head and their bodies were dumped in ditches three miles apart outside of town. The next day EP "Pete" Spurrier was murdered in his Pampa, Texas, photo processing shop. He had been shot in the head. One day after Spurrier's murder, Gwendolyn Sue Miller, 31, was shot to death. Miller was working at Dodson's Flower Shop in Ardmore, Oklahoma. She and two other women, JoAnn Beane (who also worked there) and Mary Mannings (apparently a customer), were forced to lie face down on the floor and then all three were shot in the back of the head. Beane and Mannings both survived. Two days later Geraldine Valdez, 48, a convenience store clerk in Springer, New Mexico, was shot and killed. All five murder victims were shot with a .25-caliber pistol.
On Sunday, July 23, 1989, Michael Frank Greene, 37, of Inola, Oklahoma, was arrested in a Lawton, Oklahoma, hospital for the murder of Gwen Miller. He was also suspected of killing Kochendorfer and Rains in Kansas and Spurrier in Texas. Greene had been identified from a photo lineup by one of the survivors of the Ardmore shooting. Within hours of Greene's arrest, Gregg Francis Braun, 28, was arrested in New Mexico for the murder of Valdez. At the time of his arrest, Braun, of Garden City, Kansas, allegedly implicated himself in the murder of Miller. On Wednesday, July 26, the murder charge against Greene for the slaying of Miller was dropped.
By August 3rd Braun was the primary suspect in the murders of Kochendorfer and Rains in Kansas, Spurrier in Texas, and Miller in Oklahoma. On August 18 Braun was charged with first-degree murder for the shooting death of Miller. In April, 1990, Braun pled guilty but mentally ill to the New Mexico charge of the capital murder of Valdez. In September, 1991, Braun was sentenced to life in prison for the murder after jurors could not reach a consensus on the sentencing. Braun would have to serve a minimum of 36.5 years behind bars for the murder and robbery before being eligible for parole. Braun was sentenced to four life sentences and two sentences of 15 years to life for the murders/robberies in Kansas. The court ruled that these sentences must be served consecutively, meaning Braun would have to live past 100 to be eligible for parole.
In August, 1993, Braun pled no contest to the robbery and murder charges against him in Ardmore. It was a "blind" plea (i.e. there was no deal with the prosecutor for a particular sentence in exchange for the plea.) On August 23, Judge Thomas Walker sentenced Braun to death for the 1989 murder of Miller. On August 27, Braun's attorneys filed a motion to withdraw the plea, but this motion was refused by Walker.
The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board held a clemency hearing for Gregg Braun on Tuesday, June 27, in Oklahoma City. Braun was represented by Benjamin McCullar and Jim Rowan. Rowan was Braun's trial attorney. Braun's mental illness, Borderline Personality Disorder, was raised by his attorneys as an issue worthy of clemency. Braun did not attend the hearing. The Board voted 4-0 to deny a recommendation of clemency to Governor Keating. Since capital punishment was reinstated in Oklahoma, this was the 22nd clemency hearing held for a death row inmate. There has never been a vote in favor of clemency.
Gregg Braun was sentenced to die for the 7/21/89 murder of Gwendolyn Sue Miller in an $80 flower shop robbery in Ardmore, Oklahoma. A customer was shot in the head and robbed of $600 and the bookkeeper was also shot. He also murdered four other people in a multi-state crime spree. Each of the five murder victims was found shot in the back of the head with a .25-caliber handgun. Miller's husband, Dusty, and their 3 children planned to watch Braun die on the eve of the anniversary of her July 21, 1989, death. "After all the pain and being helpless to protect my kids and family, this is the only thing I can do," Miller said.
On July 19, 1989, Braun, a 28-year-old college graduate with a degree in criminal justice, kidnapped Barbara Kochendorfer, 27 and Mary Raines, 28, during a robbery of two different convenience stores, on opposite sides of town in Garden City, Kansas. Both women were shot and dumped on the side of the same rural road. Between them they left eight young children. Braun later told police that just after the first murder he felt he had to kill again. The next day, July 20, 1989, he also murdered 54-year-old Pete Spurrier, the owner of the One Hour Photo store in Pampa, Texas.
On July 23, 1989, Braun killed Geraldine Valdez, 48, by shooting her twice in the head during a gas station robbery in Springer, New Mexico. He was caught 40 minutes after her murder with the gun still in his car. "You guys must be proud," he told police. "You don't know what kind of famous criminal you caught." Braun told a deputy of his murderous spree, "it wasn't as good as shooting craps in Vegas, but it was all right." Lelyn Braun says he didn't know this Gregg Braun. Yes, the son he raised had his troubles with drugs. Yes, the youngest Braun ran with the wrong crowd. But he had seemed ready to get his life on track when he came to live with his parents. Lelyn Braun blames the murder spree on a combination of drugs and alcohol. He said he wrote the victims' families to tell them that he wished Gregg had never been born. Lelyn Braun doesn't defend his son's actions. But says "They're going to kill a good man. And they're going to do it illegally." Braun's father was a prominent Garden City lawyer at the time of the crimes. Mr. Braun wanted to have his son returned to New Mexico to serve a life sentence there.
Dusty Miller understands why a father would fight for his child. He raised 3 children to adulthood alone. But Mr. Miller can't comprehend how a 28-year-old Mr. Braun could walk into an Ardmore, Okla., floral shop and shoot his sweet-natured wife, Gwendolyn Sue Miller. And Mr. Miller doesn't believe that a man like that can change as Lelyn Braun claims. "I don't understand how he could meet somebody like Gwen and still make a decision that the world didn't need her anymore," Mr. Miller said Monday. Dolores Spurrier doesn't want to see the execution of Braun, who pleaded guilty to the shooting death of her husband, Pete. "Any delay would be too much," Dolores said Tuesday before the execution. "I'll handle it better here (in Pampa). I just want it over with," she said of the execution. The victim's son, Bill Spurrier of San Antonio, said he will attend the execution, but the coming event invoked painful memories. "The execution brought everything back like it was yesterday, and it's not only for me, but for my wife and my mother," Spurrier said Tuesday. Bill Spurrier said the execution will bring him a sense of closure. "I know he'll never be able to commit another murder," he said.
Dolores Spurrier said she went to every one of Braun's trials and got to know relatives of the other victims. "I think everybody is just glad that it's going to happen," she said. "It will be some closure. But I don't think you would ever really get over it." Other representatives of the victims' families are planning to be at the execution. The families have stayed in touch and said they always planned to attend the execution, no matter how long it took. 39 family members of Braun's 5 murder victims came to witness the execution, but only 12 of them were able to witness it from inside the death chamber. The remaining 27 watched from a nearby room on closed-circuit television. "I'm glad to get this over with," said Dusty Miller, Gwendolyn Miller's husband. "I feel sorry for him (Braun) that he's chosen to take his life and do something like this, . . . but I'm still very angry that he's taken my wife and my children's mother away. I can't forgive him tonight. Maybe I can sometime down the line."
Thursday's execution of Gregg Francis Braun brought a sense of justice to Bill Spurrier but will not completely mend the emotional rips and tears from his father's murder. "I've been asked several times whether I feel that watching the execution would be revenge for me," Spurrier said Thursday. "My answer is after 11 years, there is no revenge; that is justice." Braun was pronounced dead at 12:17 a.m. Thursday, 6 minutes after receiving a lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla. "I think that the execution was very humane," said Bill Spurrier, a San Antonio resident. "It looked like he just went to sleep." Spurrier thanked the Oklahoma Department of Corrections personnel and everybody who was there for the victims. "They handled a very tough situation in a professional manner," he said. "I feel very sorry for Braun's family, but they did get the opportunity to say goodbye, which I never got that opportunity. I had to say goodbye to my dad at the grave." Spurrier said there is never complete closure to the loss of his father. "When my son was born in Sicily when I was stationed there, my dad traveled all the way to Sicily to hold his grandson," Spurrier said. "He'll never have the chance to hold my grandson."
The Southwest Kansas Register
"The Art and Soul of Forgiveness," by David Myers.
In 1983, Pope John Paul II stepped into a cell in an Italian prison and embraced Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. When asked in 1999 by a group of children gathered at a Rome church why he forgave him, the pope replied, "I forgave him because that's what Jesus teaches. Jesus teaches us to forgive."
In December 1999, a Tennessee family of four fought to keep the escaped mental patient who kidnapped and killed their mother from facing the death penalty -- because that's they way they felt their mother would have wanted it. During his mother's funeral, Father Charles Strobel told the mourners, "Why speak of anger and revenge? Those words were not compatible with the very thought of our mother. So, I say to everyone, we are not angry or vengeful, just deeply hurt. "We know the answers are not easy and clear, but we still believe in the miracle of forgiveness. And we extend our arms in that embrace."
Closer to home, Ruth and Bob Hessman of Dodge City work every day to forgive the man who, on July 19, 1989, killed their daughter, Mary Rains, a few miles from a Garden City convenience store where she had been working early that morning. Devout Catholics, the couple had long been opposed to the death penalty, a stance that didn't change after their daughter was murdered.
Approximately four years before Gregg Braun was executed July 20, the couple began writing to their daughter's killer. At first he expressed a bitterness that reflected a belligerence he displayed in court. After a time, though, he seemed to release his bitterness and replace it with humility; several letters expressing regret and apologizing for killing the Hessmans' daughter. In a Dodge City Daily Globe article by Eric Swanson published soon after Braun was executed, Ruth Hessman commented, "Knowing that he had reconciled himself with his Maker and worked on that - that was our main intent." Sister Jolene Geier, O.P., a Dominican Sister of Great Bend, helped organize a prayer vigil for Braun the night before his execution in Oklahoma. The vigil was attended by the Hessmans.
At the vigil an introductory prayer read, in part, "We are gathered here in the presence of God who is full of compassion and mercy to pray for Gregg Braun who is scheduled to be executed before the night is over. We are here, also, to pray for his family and his victims and their families. We especially need to pray for those who cannot forgive Gregg, who has asked for forgiveness for his crimes." Sister Geier told the Register that she admired the Hessmans because they were able to "overcome their own hatred and lack of forgiveness. They began to pray for him - for his soul - that he would be saved. ...We think that these people who do so much bad can turn around and be saved. You just think about the scripture passage, about the good shepherd going after the one lost sheep. That depicts what happened to Gregg. He was so lost and he responded to all the love and tenderness that his family, and especially Ruth and Bob, gave him, and it was through this love that God forgave him. "[The Hessmans] are a model to us on the struggle to forgive," she added. " We Sisters not only walked with the Hessmans but we walked with Gregg's family. We want the greater diocese to know that we Sisters encourage people to take a stand against the death penalty, and really let it be known that it is not a way to respond to evil."
In an article in "Grains of Wheat," a publication of the Dominican Sisters of Great Bend, Ruth Hessman wrote of the killing, "This news devastated our family - the shock, the disbelief, the pain, and yes, the anger. The thing that stands out in my mind from that awful time was what our pastor, Father (John) Maes told me after the funeral: 'Ruth, before this is over you may even be angry at God, and I just want you to know that he will understand.' "...We didn't find forgiveness just by saying, 'We forgive' and moving on. We found we needed to start each day with a prayer of forgiveness for [Gregg]. Even after the 10 years that have passed there can still be the temptation to be unforgiving, but with prayer we are trying to eliminate that feeling and to realize that her death was the beginning of her journey to her heavenly father! "Peace comes to us now from watching our children and grandchildren as they learn to follow us on the journey of forgiveness. For if we are to believe we can be forgiven, we must first be able to forgive."
As the first 50 years in the life of the Diocese of Dodge City comes to a close, Bishop Ronald M. Gilmore is inviting all people of the diocese to feel an integral part of the anniversary celebration. For some, especially those who have faced the closure of their church or parish over the years, this may first require forgiveness and reconciliation within the diocese. Whether an individual, a community or a country, reconciliation does not come easy. As Bob Hessman told the Register, it takes effort, and the process leading to forgiveness can be a painful one.
At the prayer vigil for Gregg Braun, the following was also read: "We are here tonight to remember the stories that have been told over and over during these 10 years since those horrible events took place. It is through telling our stories that reconciliation can happen within ourselves first of all and then with others who are involved. Reconciliation is the work of God, who initiates and completes in us reconciliation through Jesus. Reconciliation is not a human achievement, but the work of God within us."
Gregg Braun was a murderer. During a five-day spree in July 1989, he killed four women and one man in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. When captured by New Mexico law officers, he belligerently told them: “You guys must be proud. You don’t know what kind of famous criminal you caught.”
But 11 years later, Brother Jeremiah contends, the state of Oklahoma killed a man of prayer, a man who extensively studied Western monasticism and often said that if his life could’ve been different, he thought he may have become a monk. A man filled with self-loathing and remorse, who struggled with the belief that his sins were too great for even God’s forgiveness. A man who corresponded regularly with Bob and Ruth Hessman, the parents of Mary Rains, one of Braun’s victims. The Hessmans believed so sincerely in his transformation that they pleaded for his life. They attended a prayer vigil the night of his execution where Ruth read aloud their last letter from Braun. “What a remarkable testimony to forgiveness,” Brother Jeremiah says.
Brother Jeremiah’s correspondence began through a friend, Dominican Sister Renee Dreiling. She was the condemned man’s fifth- and sixth-grade teacher and had corresponded with him since his arrest. Brother Jeremiah was intrigued when Sister Renee told him of Braun’s fascination with monastic life. Braun even viewed his life on death row in a monastic way, committing himself to prayer and spiritual reading.
Braun’s letters were full of questions. He fleshed out his scholarly knowledge of monasticism with questions about every day life at Conception Abbey. What was it like to pray in community? What was the silence like? He inquired about Brother Jeremiah’s journey from simple vows toward solemn vows (see Solemn profession...), which he professed in August, six weeks after Braun’s death. As they grew closer, Brother Jeremiah read of Braun’s fears and remorse. “His letters were filled with so much pain,” Brother Jeremiah recalls. “He would vacillate. One letter would be full of self-hatred. He didn’t think God’s mercy could surpass the wrong that he’d done.” The next letter would radiate with hope. “He had a great devotion to Mary,” Brother Jeremiah reveals. “He knew that Jesus listened to his mother and that was a source of hope for him. In that way, God was approachable.”
In late June Braun’s execution date was set for July 20. It was then that he asked if Brother Jeremiah would come to Oklahoma for a visit. After much wrangling with red tape and prison rules, the monk found himself at the doors of H-Unit two weeks to the day before the execution date. As he entered the visiting chamber, he saw Braun for the first time, through reinforced glass and heavy metal bars. They talked by telephone for two hours.
“He talked briefly about his upcoming execution,” Brother Jeremiah recounts. “He was torn between whether he should hold out hope for his appeals or begin preparing for his death.” Braun tentatively discussed his crimes, referring to the times of the murders as “when the madness started.” Then he caught himself and was silent for a moment. “I can’t describe the look that came over his face,” Brother Jeremiah says. “It was a look of sadness the likes of which I’d never seen before.” The two hours went quickly. When Brother Jeremiah stood to leave, Braun pressed his palm to the glass and the monk did the same.
“There was a moment when the bars and the glass seemed to disappear and we touched,” Brother Jeremiah says, his voice cracking. “Gregg said he loved me and thanked me for coming. I told him I was proud and honored to call him my brother and friend.” Shortly after that, Brother Jeremiah said goodbye. Braun corrected him. “I’ll see you later,” he said.
The Daily Ardmoreite.Com.
"Victim's Former Husband Speaks Out ," by Marsha Miller. (July 19, 2000)
Dusty Miller says when he watches the execution of his wife's killer, he will be honoring the wedding vows he made to her for the final time. "I took an oath to love, honor and protect my wife. I wasn't allowed to do it. Gregg Braun took that away from me. Making sure he pays for what he did -- it's the last thing I can do to honor those vows," Miller said.
Barring an unforeseen stay of execution, Braun is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 12:01 a.m. Thursday for the 1989 slaying of Gwendolyn Sue Miller. The local florist was one of five victims who died during the Garden City, Kan., man's five-day killing rampage that raged through four states. Two other women, JoAnn Beane, formerly of Ardmore, and Mary Manning, Marietta, were wounded but survived Braun's murderous stop in Ardmore. Miller, who previously hesitated to discuss Braun's pending execution, changed his mind Tuesday. "We were afraid we would jinx it. But the attorney general's office has encouraged me to talk about it. Those who are trying to prevent it are talking," Miller said.
Miller, his family and Manning will travel to Oklahoma State Penitentiary at McAlester this afternoon. They will be joined by survivors of Braun's other victims: Mary Rains and Barbara Kochendorfer, both Garden City; P.E. "Pete" Spurrier, Pampa, Texas; and Geraldine Valdez, Springer, N.M. The group will meet with members of the attorney general's staff, who will brief them on the execution process. They will also tour the prison and some will give interviews. Braun asked to be served a last meal of a chef salad with Italian dressing, barbecue beef or pork and a hot fudge brownie sundae. He didn't want his family to witness the execution. They planned to be in McAlester, however, for a memorial service at a local Catholic church, his father, Lelyn Braun said. About 11:30 p.m., Braun will be escorted into the execution chamber. Approximately 31 minutes later, the victims' survivors and other witnesses will listen to any final words Braun might offer and watch as the State of Oklahoma takes his life in exchange for ending life of the 31-year-old Ardmore woman.
Miller doesn't expect to hear apologies or words of remorse from Braun. "I haven't heard from him in 11 years. He could sit and write letters to others, but not to us. Some say he has expressed remorse, but every time he has had an opportunity to say something publicly he has used it to wisecrack. At one point he told a reporter, 'Tell your editor thanks for the publicity,' That's just like a slap in the face," Miller said. "At this point I don't care. I don't need him to tell me he's sorry now."
While Braun has never attempted to contact any of the victims' survivors, Miller said his family did receive a letter of regret and sympathy from the killer's parents. Shortly after Braun was arrested, Miller started carrying a photograph of his wife's murderer in his wallet. "I didn't want to forget him. After the shock, the grief, anger and depression I finally got tired of being reminded. It got to the point where it wasn't healthy anymore and I stopped," he said. Now Miller says all he wants is justice. "I feel it (execution) needs to be done. It closes a chapter in our lives. It won't be a complete closure, naturally we don't have Gwen any more," Miller said. "This person did not care for Gwen, her life or her future. He deserves to pay for what he did."
The Salina Journal Online
"No Justice," by George P. Pyle, Journal Columnist. (July 21, 2000)
THE ISSUE : The execution of Gregg Braun
Now he has dragged others into hell. It is early yet. Gregg Francis Braun only died at 17 minutes past midnight Thursday morning at the hands of the state of Oklahoma. But, so far, there have been no reports that any of the people he killed 11 years ago, in a crime spree that spanned four states and took five lives, have returned to the land of the living. There is evidence, however, that the survivors of some of Braun's victims, cruelly misled by cravenly opportunistic politicians, did get to taste of the hell known only to those who wish the death of others.
Braun, son of a prominent Garden City, Kan., lawyer, who began life with every advantage and earned a college degree in criminal justice, fell into hell in July of 1989 when he kidnapped a clerk from a convenience store he had just robbed, took her to a country road and killed her. Then he felt compelled to do it again, and again, in other towns. The killing that led to his own death was that of a florist from Ardmore, Okla. Braun also had been sentenced to life in prison in Kansas, New Mexico and Texas, and his family had tried to get one of those states to take him back and exact justice in their less violent way. But the states declined, and the Supreme Court would not intervene.
So now Braun has been killed. And some of the loved ones of those he killed got to watch, to taste a bit of the hell that Braun has lived all those years and -- perhaps -- still will. The desire to see another person die is cruelty beyond description, no matter how cruel that person may have been. That desire is also quite natural, quite human, in circumstances such as these, as widowed wives and motherless children grasp for any peace, any balance, any (to use the currently en vogue term) closure they can find.
The point of the law, though, is to help us rise above our natural human urges and decide that we will not emulate the behavior of those we so rightly despise. That is why the state, not the widow or the orphan, is the officially aggrieved party in a murder case. That is why the cold, soulless state, not the emotionally wounded loved ones left behind, determine the facts, apply the law and search for something resembling justice.
But, somewhere along the way, those loved ones, and all who are hurt by vicious and senseless crime, were sold a bill of goods. We were told that killing the killer would bring us peace. We were told it would balance the unbalanceable, right the unrightable, soothe the unsoothable.
It does not. It will not. And to tell the most innocent victims of the most heinous crimes that it will do those things is a crime in itself. A crime committed by those who should know better.
"State Executes Five-Time Killer." (May 2, 2000)
McALESTER, Okla. (AP) -- Gregg Francis Braun named his five victims one by one in the order he killed them in 1989 and said, "I'm sorry," just before being put to death early Thursday. Braun, 39, strained against the straps that held him to a gurney in Oklahoma's death chamber as his apologies rolled forth like a chant. "I'm sorry I murdered you. I'm sorry I took your lives. I pray for our Lord Jesus Christ to bless your lives and to save you. I'm so sorry I killed you," the Kansas man said. He was pronounced dead at 12:17 a.m., six minutes after receiving a lethal mix of drugs. Braun received the death sentence for killing an Ardmore, Okla., florist. His execution came on the eve of the 11th anniversary of her murder. His last statement rambled over 3 minutes and was sometimes slurred. He apologized to his victims' families, also naming them one by one. He also apologized to the people he injured in his four-state murder spree. "What I did was unforgivable, but I ask you to forgive me," he said, as three dozen family members of his victims watched inside a witness room or via closed circuit television.
Braun shot and killed Gwendolyn Sue Miller, 31, while robbing her parents' Ardmore flower shop. Two other women shot at the same time survived. Miller's husband, Dusty, and their three children traveled to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary to witness the execution. "It's never going to go away," Miller said, "but at least we're not going to have to deal with him on an ongoing basis." When New Mexico law officers caught up with Braun on July 23, 1989, he told them, "You guys must be proud. You don't know what kind of famous criminal you caught."
His killing spree had begun five days earlier after he robbed a convenience store in his hometown of Garden City, Kan. Braun took the clerk to a rural road and shot her. He would later tell police he felt he had to kill again and chose another store clerk. Their bodies were found on the same road. Mary Rains left behind three young children. Barbara Kochendorfer left behind five. "The youngest was 2," said Angie Bentley, Kochendorfer's sister, who also came to witness the execution. "He's affected a lot of families, not just hers. Babies. They're not going to grow up with their mothers." On July 20, Braun killed E.P. "Pete" Spurrier while robbing his one-hour photo store in Pampa, Texas. Two days after the Oklahoma slaying, he killed Geraldine Valdez at the Springer, N.M., convenience store where she worked. Braun was captured a short time later. He received life sentences for the murders in Kansas, New Mexico and Texas.
Braun graduated college with a degree in criminal justice. His father, Lelyn, a lawyer in Garden City at the time of the murders, blamed drugs for turning his youngest son into a murderer.
"He's found peace with God," Lelyn Braun said in the days before the execution. Braun apologized to his own family in his last statement. Then, he let out a long deep sigh before saying, "Save me Mother Mary from the eternal damnation I deserve." "I'm not an animal. I'm so sorry," he said. "I'm so sorry," Braun's defense had sought to have him returned to New Mexico to serve the life sentence there. But New Mexico courts rejected extradition efforts Wednesday, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied his final appeal just hours before the execution. Spurrier's son, Bill, lamented that his father would never meet his great-grandson. He said he felt sorry for Braun's family, too. "But they do get the opportunity to say goodbye," he said. "I had to go to my father's grave and say goodbye to the headstone."