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Texas Executes Man for Huntsville Corrections Officer's Death

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) A Texas inmate has been executed for the death of a corrections officer during a short-lived escape from prison six years ago.

Jerry Martin had requested that no additional appeals be filed on his behalf, clearing the way for his lethal injection Tuesday evening.

Martin was serving 50 years for attempted capital murder when he and another inmate bolted from a work detail outside a Huntsville-area prison in September 2007.

In the ensuing chaos and gunfire, a 59-year-old prison officer on horseback, Susan Canfield, suffered fatal head injuries. Both Martin and his partner, John Falk, were captured within hours after fleeing in a stolen pickup.

Martin's execution was the 16th and last scheduled for this year in Texas, which carries out capital punishment more than any other state.

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News 3's Steve Fullhart was among those who viewed Martin's execution. Below is his perspective:

From inside the death chamber, Jerry Martin -- resigned, seemingly content with his fate -- made a brief final statement from the gurney at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, telling the family of Susan Canfield that he was sorry for their loss, that he wishes he could take it back, and that he hoped his death would bring them closure.

He also added, "I did not murder your loved one. It was an accident. I didn't mean for it to happen. I take full responsibility."

Martin also made a very brief statement to his family and friends. They were in the viewing room I was in. As the lethal dosage began being applied, Martin said, "Jesus," along with some incoherent words, and then began to slip under the effects of the drug.

One of the members of Martin's party was crying for pretty much the duration of the time. Martin's brother stood closest to the window, holding hands with another member of their group as Martin slipped away.

A doctor pronounced him dead at 6:27 p.m., some eleven minutes after those final words.

A rider-less horse signifying Canfield's death was among the shows of support from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Tuesday night in Huntsville. Canfield's family saw dozens of officers form a wall of gray as they went to and from the death chamber, a show they said they appreciated.

Susan's husband, Charles, is a retired Houston police officer. After the execution, I asked him what he wanted people to remember about his wife.

"I guess the best thing to remember about Susan was her smile, and the fact that she had great respect for everybody, no matter where you were, what your stance was, what uniform you wore, or if you were inside or out," he said.

Charles Canfield said his wife loved her job. When other guards were able to put a scowl on their faces while they sat on horses securing inmates in the field, she couldn't muster one. Susan would even practice scowling in the mirror. She enjoyed her work and loved going to it, he said.

Charles says the fight for justice for his wife, who he called his everything, is not done. Falk is awaiting a new capital murder trial. A mistrial was declared in his first trial that was held in Brazos County early this year.

Simply put, Charles said, "one down, one to go." He added, "this is a great day. Justice has been done."

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Martin's Complete Final Statement (as transcribed by TDCJ):

"I would like to tell the Canfield family I'm sorry. Sorry for your loss. I wish I could take it back, but I can't. I hope this gives you closure. I did not murder your loved one. It was an accident. I didn't mean for it to happen. I take full responsibility.

"To my family, we've talked earlier, and you know I'm at peace. God is the ultimate judge. He knows what happened. We talked earlier. I love all of you all. I'm ready, Warden."


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