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Houston police gather on motorbikes and rev their engines outside an execution chamber

Dozens of uniformed police gathered and revved their motorcycle engines outside a prison where a man was executed for killing an officer.

Robert Jennings was sentenced to death for the July 1988 slaying of Officer Elston Howard during a robbery at an adult bookstore in Texas.  

The 61-year-old was pronounced dead at 6.33pm, 18 minutes after the drug was administered.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, Elston Howard’s mother Era and Jennings’ partner Evelyn Staus were among those present at Huntsville Unit before the prisoner received a lethal injection. 

Outside on the street, dozens of uniformed police gathered and revved their motorcycle engines, sending up a noise that echoed into the death chamber.

  

Outside on the street, dozens of uniformed police gathered and revved their motorcycle engines as inmates Robert Jennings died by lethal injection 

Jennings was the first inmate put to death this year both in the U.S. and Texas

Jennings was the first inmate put to death this year both in the U.S. and Texas

Thin Blue Line Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, whose memhers are law enforcement officers,  make their way to Huntsville Unit for Robert Jennings' execution on Wednesday

Thin Blue Line Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, whose memhers are law enforcement officers, make their way to Huntsville Unit for Robert Jennings’ execution on Wednesday

Houston Police officers also saluted to officer Elston Howard’s mother and family as they walk into the Huntsville Unit on Wednesday to see their loved one’s killer’s final moments.  

As witnesses filed into the death chamber, Jennings asked a chaplain standing next to him if he knew the name of the slain officer. 

The chaplain didn’t respond, and a prison official then told the warden to proceed with the punishment.

According to the Houston Chronicle, he said in his final moments: ‘Just briefly, to my friends and family, it was a nice journey. 

‘To the family of the police officer, I hope this finds you peace, and be well and stay safe. Enjoy life’s moments because we never get them back.’

He paused, then called out in a sing-song voice to his partner ‘life-mate, see you at the crossroads.’ 

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, asked about the 30-plus years between the crime and the punishment, said he thought ‘justice delayed is, to an extent, an injustice continued.’

‘But when the state takes a life, there has to be a process,’ Acevedo said. 

‘In this case, the day of reckoning is here. It’s a solemn occasion. For us it’s a celebration of a life well-lived by Officer Howard. We’re a family. That’s why we’re here.’

In his final weeks, Jennings had decided he didn’t even want a reprieve. He barely slept the night before. He’d rather be dead, he told a loved one, than stuck on death row indefinitely with no end in sight.

Robert Jennings (left) received lethal injection for the July 1988 fatal shooting of Officer Elston Howard

Officer Elston Howard (right) was fatally shot during a robbery at an adult bookstore that authorities said was part of a crime spree

Robert Jennings (left) received lethal injection for the July 1988 fatal shooting of Officer Elston Howard (right) during a robbery at an adult bookstore that authorities said was part of a crime spree

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo (left) accompanies Era Howard, (right) mother of murdered officer Elston Howard into Huntsville Unit to witness her son's murder being executed 

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo (left) accompanies Era Howard, (right) mother of murdered officer Elston Howard into Huntsville Unit to witness her son’s murder being executed 

Houston Police officers saluted to officer Elston Howard's mother and family as they walk into the Huntsville Unit on Wednesday to witness their loved one's killer's final moments

Houston Police officers saluted to officer Elston Howard’s mother and family as they walk into the Huntsville Unit on Wednesday to witness their loved one’s killer’s final moments

‘You get to a point where you accept whatever happens and he’s at that point,’ his parents said. 

Jennings would be the first inmate put to death this year both in the U.S. and in Texas, which is the nation’s busiest capital punishment state.

‘Justice has been rendered and my family can finally have the closure we deserve,’ Michael Agee, Howard’s nephew and a current Houston officer, said after watching Jennings die.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, asked about the 30-plus years between the crime and the punishment, said he thought ‘justice delayed is, to an extent, an injustice continued.’

‘But when the state takes a life, there has to be a process,’ Acevedo said. 

‘In this case, the day of reckoning is here. It’s a solemn occasion. For us it’s a celebration of a life well-lived by Officer Howard. We’re a family. That’s why we’re here.’

He had lost a last-ditch appeal pending in the U.S. Supreme Court in which he argued that he suffered ‘an improbable succession of bad lawyering.’

In another appeal, he asked for a stay because the jury didn’t properly consider reasons to give him a lesser sentence – things like his low IQ and show of remorse. 

Robert Jennings was sentenced to death for the July 1988 slaying of Officer Elston Howard (pictured) during a robbery at an adult bookstore in Texas

Robert Jennings was sentenced to death for the July 1988 slaying of Officer Elston Howard (pictured) during a robbery at an adult bookstore in Texas

Joe Gamaldi, the president of the Houston Police Officers' Union, said Jennings has spent more time on death row than Howard was alive

Joe Gamaldi, the president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, said Jennings has spent more time on death row than Howard was alive

In J988, Jennings and a friend went to the nearby Stop-N-Go and bought a six-pack in Houston.

At the time, Jennings was still on parole from a sentence for his second aggravated robbery bid. But the 30-year-old and his friend – David Lee Harvell – wanted a night on the town, so they drove to a nearby strip club. 

Jennings and David Lee Harvell then decided to rob an adult book store and were in possession of weapons.

Vice officer Elston Howard, who was standing at the counter, was filling out paperwork. 

He and his undercover partner had just arrested the store owner for showing pornographic films without a permit. 

Jennings was put to death in the execution chamber in Huntsville, Texas (seen above)

Jennings was put to death in the execution chamber in Huntsville, Texas (seen above)

The 24-year-old lawman was waiting for a squad car to take the man downtown to booking when Jennings flew in and fired at him.

Two bullets hit Howard in the neck. He tried to flee but collapsed, according to court records.Jennings shot him two more times as he lay face down. 

Jennings ran outside and hopped in the getaway car, shoving the gun between the seats before telling Harvell that he’d just shot a ‘security guard.’

Jennings was later at a hospital and he offered a written confession, according to the Houston Chronicle. 

‘I shot him in the back two times. After I shot him, the dude went to the ground between my legs, and he was still holding me by my legs, and I had to push him all the way down to the floor, and I then stepped over his body, and I went directly to the cash register.’

 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk