A man who beat two people to death with a baseball bat at a bar for no reason other than "it was time for them to die" was put to death by injection early Thursday in Idaho's first execution in 36 years.
Keith Eugene Wells, 31, died at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected 7-2 a late-hour appeal filed against his wishes.Inmates pounded on walls and stomped on the floor in protest as the execution took place.
Wells had no final statement. But KTVB-TV anchorwoman Dee Sarton said Wells called her at home Wednesday evening to ask her to tell his victims' relatives he was sorry.
Wells was convicted in the slayings of John Justad, 23, and Brandi Rains, 20, at a Boise tavern in 1990. He was on parole for robbery at the time and described himself that night as "a predator on the prowl for prey."
He said that before he went to the bar, he knew someone would die. He took a bat with him, setting it aside while he had a couple of beers.
In an interview with The Idaho Statesman, Wells said he had been at the bar for about two hours when "I knew it was time for them to die." He beat Justad, a bar patron, as he came out of the bathroom, and turned on Rains, a barmaid, when she came to see what was happening.
The execution was the first in the nation in 1994 and Idaho's first since Oct. 18, 1957, when Raymond Allen Snowden, a 35-year-old itinerant laborer, was hanged for the murder and mutilation of a woman he met at a bar.
Wells was the 227th person put to death in the United States since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976. Idaho reinstated the death penalty in 1977.
Twenty-one people remain on Idaho's death row.
In asking last winter that his appeals be dropped, Wells maintained that delaying his death would only prolong the agony for all involved. He also said it was irresponsible to force taxpayers to pay for his long confinement.
Earlier Wednesday, a federal judge left intact a ruling that Wells was mentally competent.