According to court documents Buddy Justus would break into the residence of Ida Mae Moses, who was due to give birth in two weeks, and would sexually assault and murder the woman
Buddy Justus would also kidnap, sexually assault and murder Rosemary Jackson in Georgia and would kidnap, sexually assault and murder Stephanie Hawkins in Florida
Buddy Justus would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
Justus was also sentenced to death in both Georgia and Florida
Buddy Justus would be executed by way of the electric chair on December 13 1990
Buddy Justus Photos
Buddy Justus Case
Buddy Earl Justus, believed to be the only man under a death sentence in three states, was executed Thursday night for the 1978 rape and murder of a pregnant nurse.
Justus, 38, was pronounced dead at 11:06 p.m. EST in the electric chair at the State Penitentiary in downtown Richmond. Justus, who had suspended his final appeals, said in an interview hours earlier he ‘was ready to go to a better place.’
Justus was condemned to die for the Oct. 3, 1978 rape and murder of Ida Mae Moses, a nurse of Ironto, Va., who was 8 months pregnant when Justus broke into her home, sexually assaulted her and shot her in the head.
Justus, who was abused as a child and went on to marry and divorce his foster mother, had asked Gov. L. Douglas Wilder to either commute his sentence to life or watch the execution in person, but Wilder refused.
Justus dined on steak and French fries for a last meal.
As he entered the death chamber Thursday night, Justus nodded twice to the man who had investigated the Moses murder and took his confession, Montgomery County Sheriff Louis Barber.
Prison Chaplain Russ Ford told Justus shortly before a mask was placed over the condemned killer’s face, ‘Be strong. You’ll move on.’
Justus made no final statement.
‘He died with a great deal more dignity than his victim did,’ Barber told media witnesses afterwards inside the chamber.
Justus also was under death sentences in Florida and Georgia for the murders of saleswoman Stephanie Hawkins in Tampa, Fla., and Rosemary Jackson, a housewife in Mountain Park, Ga., before his Oct. 11, 1978 arrest.
His lawyer says Justus suffers from brain damage, but in an interview with Roanoke radio station WFIR, Justus accepted responsibility for the crimes, while citing his history of drug use and an abusive father.
‘I was able to forgive myself. I’m at peace with myself. I’m ready to go to a better place,’ he said. ‘In order to be forgiven, you’ve got to forgive others.
‘I still take the responsibility solely for myself because I wasn’t strong enough to turn away’ and avoid drugs and handle the child abuse, he said. ‘I hold responsibility for my actions because I should have been strong enough to resist those drugs.
He also said he was prepared to die in Virginia’s electric chair though he opposes capital punishment.
‘We are supposed to be a society that’s supposed to be caring … and that to continue capital punishment is taking steps backward. There’s better ways to deal with it than to take lives.’
He said he tried to commit suicide at Mecklenburg Correctional Center several months ago because he felt no useful purpose any longer.
On Wednesday, attorney James Copacino said he persuaded Justus, who has refused to continue his appeal, to allow him to petition the governor for clemency. The petition was based on new tests that reveal the killer suffers from organic brain damage.
‘It’s a real outside shot,’ said Copacino, a Georgetown University law professor. ‘A lot of people disagreed with my decision not to file anything in court on Buddy’s behalf.’
Earlier this week, Wilder, who has refused to intervene in two previous executions this year, indicated he would allow the execution to proceed unless some startling new evidence emerged.
Copacino extended an invitation to Wilder to witness the execution at the State Penitentiary if he were to deny clemency, but the governor rejected it
Justus, the oldest of seven children, was beaten repeatedly by his alcoholic father. At age 13, officials say he intentionally stole a pistol, bicycle and a truck so that welfare officials would remove him from his home.
Buddy Justus would be the 11th person executed in Virginia and the 143rd in the United States since the Supreme Court lifted a ban on capital punishment in 1976.
The execution is scheduled to be the last at the aging penitentiary in downtown Richmond. The prison will be closed at the end of the month and the electric chair moved to the newly constructed Greensville Correctional Center