Henry Dunn Put To Death

November 1993, Nicholas West was picked up at Bergfeld Park in Tyler and taken to a gravel pit in Noonday. He was robbed, ordered to take off his clothes, shot numerous times and left to die. Three men were convicted for the crime.. Henry Dunn was the first of two who were sentenced to death.

The family of Nicholas West appeared at the execution. His sister, brother, and brother-in-law were all present. They were very quiet and in some cases, emotional and crying. The West family understandably did not want to make any statements.

Outside the Walls Unit, there was a handful of protesters against the death penalty. Also, there was a man named Wesley Beard. He is an openly gay man from Jacksonville who became a gay activist after West's murder. In 1994 and 1995, it was Beard's actions having organized several rallies at Bergfeld park that showed East Texas and the nation--through the eyes of the media--how the murder of Nicholas West was a brutal, gay hate crime. Essentially, it also put Tyler on the map. Beard says his mission is to stop the hatred of homosexuals, "Nicholas lost his life for a senseless ruthless reason."  He also said, "I'm here to still say he didn't die in vein, you can be gay, you can be lesbian, and for anyone watching, this could have been their son."

Also present were several family and friends of Henry Dunn. In his last statement, he directly addressed them. Media witness, Mark Passwaters, of the "Huntsville Item" sat on the witness side with Dunn's family. He described Dunn's last statement, "He told his family that he loves them and that he would always remember them and then he made an appeal to the family of the victim to forgive him."

Dunn made that statement at 6:09 p.m. The lethal dose was then administered. He was pronounced dead at 6:15. So far, this is the 8th execution in Texas for 2003. The second this week.

Jennifer Brice, reporting.