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Phuket Gazette: Seventh person executed in the US this year




– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Texas executes man for killing estranged wife, her boyfriend

PHUKET (News Wires): A Texas man was executed yesterday for murdering his estranged wife and her new boyfriend in the Houston area in September 2001, officials said. He is the seventh person to be executed in the United States so far this year.

Keith Steven Thurmond, 52, was pronounced dead at 6:22pm local time at Huntsville Unit in Walker County. The execution by lethal injection took place about an hour after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal in which Thurmond’s attorneys argued that his earlier lawyers were deficient.

Thurmond, who had a long history of domestic abuse, was found guilty in November 2002 of murdering his 32-year-old estranged wife Sharon Anne Thurmond and her 35-year-old boyfriend Guy Sean Fernandez at their mobile home near Magnolia in Montgomery County in September 2001.

Sharon had separated from her husband a few months before the murders and, together with their elementary school-aged son, moved in with Fernandez who lived across the street. Unhappy by the fact that his wife was living across the street with another man, Thurmond in August 2001 traveled to Sharon’s mother’s home to speak with Sharon.

Thurmond banged on the back glass patio door and demanded to see Sharon, but her mother told him she was not there and instructed him to leave. He returned about 15 minutes later and again demanded to see Sharon, who came to the door but did not open it. Thurmond allegedly told Sharon, Fernandez and Sharon’s mother “that we were all wrong in what we were doing and that Sharon was going to get hers and that he was going to get Fernandez.”

On the day of the murders, in September 2001, deputies served Thurmond with a protective order and placed his son in the custody of his wife. Thurmond became very upset, stormed across the street, and killed both Sharon and Fernandez. Their young son testified during the trial that he saw how his father shot his mother repeatedly behind Fernandez’ mobile home.

While awaiting trial, Thurmond was disciplined for not wearing his armband and for being disrespectful to a prison staff member. His prison privileges were revoked when he again violated the disciplinary rules, and Thurmond later threatened to kill the disciplinary officer who was involved in the case.

But as Thurmond went to trial, he blamed another man for the murders and pled not guilty. A jury, which was not aware of his history of domestic abuse, convicted Thurmond in November 2002. They then learned of his history of domestic abuse and sentenced him to death the following day.

According to court records, Thurmond was in a relationship with a woman between 1975 and 1979. About six months into the relationship, Thurmond became violent by repeatedly pushing, slapping and hitting his girlfriend. The woman, who described Thurmond as ‘very controlling’, testified that she was afraid to leave him.

The woman ended the relationship in early 1979 after which Thurmond visited the woman’s home and sexually assaulted her at knife-point. When the victim determined that Thurmond was planning to do the same thing a couple of days later, she fled her house with her sister. When they returned, she found the lock broken and responding police officers arrested Thurmond who was inside with a 12-gauge double-barreled shotgun.

Additionally, jurors were told that, from 1981 to 1983, Thurmond was in a common-law marriage with another woman when he became violent, hitting his wife on occasion. When she told Thurmond she was leaving him, Thurmond threw her to the floor, straddled her and choked her. Thurmond kept harassing the woman until she obtained a restraining order.

Thurmond was the third person executed in Texas so far this year and the seventh in the United States. According to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), Texas has executed more than four times as many people as any other state since the United States reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

— Phuket Gazette Editors


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