Tommy Fortenberry Executed For 4 Alabama Murders

Tommy Fortenberry was executed by the State of Alabama for a quadruple murder

According to court documents Tommy Fortenberry would rob a gas station and in the process would shoot and kill four people: 21-year-old Mike Guest, 51-year-old store clerk Wilbur Nelson and 43-year-old customers Bobby Payne and his 29-year-old wife Nancy

Tommy Fortenberry would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death

Tommy Fortenberry would be executed by lethal injection on August 7 2003

Tommy Fortenberry Photos

Tommy Fortenberry - Alabama execution

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When Was Tommy Fortenberry Executed

Tommy Fortenberry was executed on August 7 2003

Tommy Fortenberry Case

Nineteen years after he killed three men and a woman in a service station robbery near Attalla, Thomas J. Fortenberry drew his last breath shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday in the death chamber at Holman Prison.

Fortenberry, 39, died by lethal injection. He had no last words but smiled faintly, flashed an “I love you” hand sign to two prison ministry friends in an adjoining witness room, looked calmly toward the battery of fluorescent lights in the ceiling and appeared to go to sleep.

“The punishment is not in the dying, it’s in the 19 years of hell he’s lived through,” said Ben Sherrod, a lay minister with the prison ministry Kairos, as the curtain was drawn after the execution. “You watched a Christian die, a man that’s now in the arms of our Lord,” Sherrod told reporters afterward. A dozen of the victims’ family members watched the execution from a separate witness room through a large glass window on one side of the death chamber. “Maybe they’ll find some peace. I hope so. I prayed for them,” Sherrod said later.

Fortenberry was on Death Row for just more than 17 years, convicted of murdering four people during the course of a $400 robbery of the Guest Service Station on Aug. 25, 1984. Jurors found Fortenberry guilty in 1985 of murdering the station owner’s son, Ronald Michael Guest, clerk Wilbur T. Nelson, customer Robert William Payne and Payne’s wife, Nancy. Jurors unanimously recommended the death penalty for Fortenberry after finding him guilty of two counts of capital murder: one for robbery-murder and the other for the murder of more than one person.

Freda Andrews, Nancy Payne’s sister, said she was in the witness room Thursday night but chose not to watch Fortenberry die because she was afraid she would never be able to forget the scene. The murders 19 years ago opened a book in which the final chapter was written Thursday with Fortenberry’s execution, “and is not to be opened again,” she said. “I feel that justice was completed today. I have peace about it.” Andrews said the hearts of the victims’ family members go out to Fortenberry’s family. “They’re victims, too,” she said.

David Payne, son of the Paynes, said, “I feel in my heart that justice was done today … I know their family’s got sorrow, now. I know what we’ve been through. I feel for their family. My prayers are with them.” Bonnie Ingram, daughter of victim Robert Payne who was 17 when her father was killed, said she still misses him, but “I’ve forgiven this boy and pray that God will give peace to his mother and peace to us.”

Prison spokesman Brian Corbett said Fortenberry slept well Wednesday night, his last night, awoke about 5 a.m. Thursday and refused to eat breakfast. He went back to sleep until about 7:30 a.m., when he got up, showered and dressed, and had more visits with family and friends. For his final meal, Fortenberry requested shrimp but it wasn’t available in the prison kitchen. He ate snacks from the vending machines in the visitation area.

Corbett said Fortenberry gave his Bible to his mother, his TV to a nephew, a cup and other items to fellow Death Row inmates. The state Department of Forensic Science picked up Fortenberry’s body at the prison gate and after an autopsy was to turn it over to his family for burial in Gadsden.

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