US executes man for killing 'good Samaritan'

2013-12-12 14:03
Allen Nicklasson in 2008. (Jeff Roberson, AFP)

Allen Nicklasson in 2008. (Jeff Roberson, AFP)

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Bonne Terre - Missouri has executed a man for killing a good Samaritan who stopped to help him and his friends after their car stalled on Interstate 70 in 1994. It was the state's second execution in three weeks.

Allen Nicklasson, aged 41, was pronounced dead at 22:52 on Wednesday, eight minutes after the process began. His eyes remained closed throughout and he showed little reaction to the drug, only briefly breathing heavily about 2 minutes into the process. He offered no final words.

Missouri Department of Public Safety Spokesperson Mike O'Connell said Nicklasson prayed briefly with the prison chaplain about 20 minutes before the execution. No one from his family or the victim's family attended.

An appeals court panel had granted a stay of execution for Nicklasson on Monday, citing concerns about his counsel at trial and sentencing in 1996.

That stay was taken up to the US Supreme Court, which did not return its 5-4 decision to vacate the stay until late on Wednesday night.

Governor Jay Nixon refused to grant clemency, and Nicklasson was executed nearly 23 hours after he was originally scheduled to die.

Mental issues

Nicklasson declined interview requests this week. But in a 2009 interview with The Associated Press he spoke of a childhood scarred by abuse and mental illness.

He recalled watching his mother shoot up heroin. She fed him Alpo dog food for dinner, he said, and once made him fight a Doberman for money.

Nicklasson was often removed from home and spent part of his childhood in mental institutions and homes for boys. He became addicted to drugs.

He met convicted killer Dennis Skillicorn in 1994 at a drug rehab centre in Kansas City. The men, along with Tim DeGraffenreid, drove to St Louis to buy drugs in August that year. On the way back, their 1983 Chevrolet Caprice broke down. They dropped the car off with a mechanic and burglarised a home, stealing money and drugs.

The next day, despite mechanics' warnings that the car wouldn't last, they got back on I-70 where it broke down again.

Euphoria

Drummond, aged 47, who was a technical support supervisor for AT&T, spotted the stranded motorists and stopped to help. The men put a gun to his head and ordered him to drive his Dodge Intrepid west.

About 95km later the men ordered Drummond off the road to a secluded area. Nicklasson recalled that he left Skillicorn and DeGraffenreid behind and walked Drummond to a field. He said he had intended to tie Drummond up to buy time for the trio to get away.

Instead, he ordered Drummond to kneel and cross his legs. He shot him twice in the head. Drummond's remains were found eight days later.

"I'm laughing, pacing," Nicklasson said, recalling the moment. "I started losing it. I wouldn't want this out, but I felt euphoria. I finally got back for all the beatings I took" as a child.

Continued killing

Nicklasson and Skillicorn drove Drummond's car to Arizona. When the vehicle broke down in the desert, they approached the home of Joseph and Charlene Babcock.

Nicklasson killed Joseph Babcock after the man drove them back to their vehicle. Charlene Babcock was killed at the couple's home.

Nicklasson and Skillicorn were sentenced to life in prison for the Arizona killings and also sentenced to death in Missouri for Drummond's death. Skillicorn was executed in 2009.

DeGraffenreid pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and did not receive a death sentence.

Nikklasson's execution was the state's second to use a single drug, pentobarbital.

- AP

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