HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) - A man who fatally stabbed a convenience
store clerk during a robbery 23 years ago apologized repeatedly to
her relatives and to his mother before he was executed Tuesday.
"I know I hurt you very bad," Michael Lynn Riley said to his
victim's relatives, including her two daughters and husband. "I
want you to know I'm sorry."
Brandy Oaks said she accepted Riley's apology and was pleased to
hear it. She was 4 when her mother, Wynona Harris, was killed.
"This is a difficult day and there are no winners on either
side," Oaks said. "Her spirit will live on in our hearts and in
Riley, 51, also apologized to his mother, who was not present,
for being "not the big son that you wanted me to be."
Eight minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow, he was
pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. Riley was the 15th murderer executed
this year in the nation's most active death penalty state.
He was condemned for killing the 23-year-old Harris at a
convenience store in Quitman, about 75 miles east of Dallas. Riley
was a frequent customer, and Harris told him to help himself to the
ice cream he wanted that Saturday morning while she counted some
Instead, he stabbed and slashed her repeatedly with a 10-inch
butcher knife, then fled with about $1,000. Bloody footprints led
detectives toward Riley's home a few blocks away.
He said gambling losses in a dice game prompted the killing.
"Dice took my life," Riley told The Associated Press in a
recent interview from prison. "It's the worst drug habit you can
have. I wanted to try to live the big life. I was trying to live
the life of a high roller."
Riley had a record for burglary and other crimes before the
slaying, and he was among the longest-serving of Texas' 334
condemned prisoners. His first conviction in the case was
overturned because a potential juror was dismissed improperly.
At his retrial in 1995, he pleaded guilty and defense lawyers
argued for life in prison. Prosecutors sought death and jurors
agreed with them.
"I have no hate," he said. "I was very sorry for what I
At least six other Texas death row inmates have execution dates
in the coming months.