"Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on my soul." - Arthur Gary Bishop, in a final statement to witnesses at his Friday execution.

Five times in five years, Arthur Gary Bishop killed without remorse. Five times he satisfied his perverted hunger, using a hammer, a pistol, even his bare hands to take human life.Early Friday, the fear was etched on Bishop's own face as seven leather straps bound his arms and legs to a tan-colored gurney.

"Give my apologies to the families of the victims," he muttered one last time, lifting his head to look around. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply. His left leg twitched nervously.

Utah State Prison Warden Gerald Cook nodded, stepped back and gave a signal for executioners to begin injecting Bishop with lethal doses of sodium pentothal, Pavulon and potassium chloride.

Within 30 seconds, the rhythmic rise and fall of Bishop's chest stopped. No muscles twitched, no nerves reacted, nothing moved. His hands changed from a healthy pink to a deathly gray.

By 12:15 a.m. Friday - 9 minutes after the execution began - Bishop was pronounced dead by Dr. J. Brett Lazar, director of the Division of Community Health Services. The state of Utah had exacted the ultimate penalty from the man who may be the worst serial killer in the state's history.

Bishop, 36, a former honor student, Eagle Scout and missionary, admitted responsibility for the Oct. 16, 1979, murder of 4-year-old Alonzo Daniels; the Nov. 8, 1980, murder of 11-year-old Kim Petersen; the Oct. 20, 1981, murder of Danny Davis; the June 22, 1983, murder of Troy Ward; and the July 14, 1983, murder of Graeme Cunningham.

All five had been sexually abused and then murdered.

"By killing Arthur Bishop, we will not stop other child abusers from killing children," said Salt Lake Police Lt. Don Bell, the detective who elicited Bishop's confession in 1983. "But it will stop Art Bishop from killing children again."

Bishop's body was taken to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy before it will be released to Bishop's family. Bishop wanted his remains cremated.

The execution was carried out smoothly and without flaw. Utah Department of Corrections officials employed the same procedure used last August when Pierre Dale Selby, convicted in Ogden's Hi-Fi Shop killings, was executed.

By 8 p.m. Wednesday, Bishop had been moved from his maximum security cell to a holding cell about 100 feet from the execution chamber and was placed under 24-hour observation.

Twenty-seven hours later, Bishop was marched from the cell to the execution chamber with practiced precision. Manacled, he didn't resist; he cooperated fully with the beefy corrections officers who escorted him to the 24-foot-by-24-foot death chamber.

When he was commanded to climb onto the gurney bolted to the concrete floor in the extreme northwest corner of the room, Bishop obeyed. When he was told to stretch out his arms, he again obeyed.

"He walked on his own and he followed instructions," said Bruce Egan, deputy director, Department of Corrections. Bishop was relaxed about dying, but he "was very nervous" about the execution.

Bishop spent his final hours in quiet solitude and religious contemplation. He had fasted for more than 24 hours prior to his death. He read at length from the Book of Mormon and discussed life after death with LDS Bishop Heber Geurts.

At 11:02 p.m., he asked Geurts to leave so he could have time alone to pray. He prayed for 30 minutes.

"I don't want to die, but I think it's necessary," he told prison psychologist Al Carlisle.

"He's accepted death," Carlisle said.

In a written statement, Bishop apologized to the families of his victims, saying he tried his best to "empathize with their grief and devastation." He also thanked those who provided comfort and support to his own family and to those who sent him letters of encouragement.

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"By accepting my execution I do not consider myself a courageous hero or a noble martyr, or that I am giving up or that I'm going out in a blaze of glory, as some people have suggested. I am merely accepting my just punishment as my conscience dictates I must. Though perhaps too little too late, I am doing the right thing now."

Bishop also used the traditional "final statement" to squelch "pernicious rumors," one that he had ever been sexually abused himself and the other that he was responsible for other murders.

Instead, he prayed for his fellow men.

"I leave this life with no ill feelings towards anyone, and I pray that the peace of God may rest upon each and every one of you. I know of God's love, patience and compassion, and have found comfort in that knowledge. When I kneel before Christ in the next life, having a perfect recollection of all my guilt, with a broken heart, I will humbly plead, `Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on my soul.' "

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