According to court documents James Russell would abduct Thomas Stearns who was brought to a remote location and fatally shot. Thomas Stearns was due to testify against Russell for an armed robbery
James Russell would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
James Russell would be executed by lethal injection on September 19 1991
James Russell Photos
James Russell Case
James ‘Sugarman’ Russell, a two-time convict who kidnapped and killed a store manager 17 years ago, was executed early Thursday by injection.
Russell, 42, was pronounced dead at 12:20 a.m. after the lethal injection was administered.
‘Wherever a death penalty is, there can be no civilization,’ Russell said shortly before his death.
To his family, he said: ‘Don’t be sad. We will meet again and sing a sweeter song.’
Late Wednesday, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected an appeal to delay the execution.
Russell was convicted of capital murder in the 1974 abduction and shooting death of Thomas Stearns, 24.
Stearns was the manager of a Radio Shack electronics store in Fort Bend County, and his testimony in a previous case had led to Russell’s arrest for a robbery at the store.
Stearns was slated to testify against Russell, but the day before the trial, Stearns was abducted, sexually abused and shot twice in the head.
Russell was twice previously convicted of crimes and imprisoned before the capital murder conviction.
Community activists and Russell’s relatives contend the conviction was racially motivated. Russell was black and Stearns white
At a meeting at Shape Community Center Tuesday, the activists called for Gov. Ann Richards to give a 30-day reprieve or grant clemency so attorneys can prove his innocence.
Supporters include Frances ‘Sissy’ Farenthold, former state representative.
Chuck McDonald, a spokesman for Richards, said the legal staff briefed Richards on the case Tuesday, and she planned to meet with the general counsel again Wednesday night.
Supporters contend Russell was a victim of racism since his trial was heard by an all-white jury. Prosecutors in Fort Bend Countyhave insisted that race was not a factor in the case.
Earlier this week, state District Judge Brady G. Elliott of Richmond refused to hold a hearing into claims by Russell’s lawyers that witnesses at Russell’s 1977 trial were not credible, that his trial lawyer had not effectively represented him and that the prosecutor made racially biased statements to the jury.