39 year old Donald Loren Aldrich was the named leader of a group of three men who kidnapped, robbed and killed 23 year old Nicholas West of Tyler, because he was gay. The murder made national headlines and sparked several gay protests and rallies in East Texas.
Tuesday night, Donald Aldrich was executed in Huntsville. There weren't any relatives present, however there were four friends of Aldrich and his personal spiritual advisor to witness his death.
On death row for 11 years now, Aldrich was served his last meal: chef salad with French/Ranch dressing, fried chicken breasts and legs, french fries, a cheeseburger, chocolate cake, deviled eggs, and biscuits with gravy.
He was taken from his holding cell at 6 p.m. to the execution chambers. He then made his last statement. He said, "To the West family, I would just like to apologize for your loss. I hope that you can forgive me. To my family and loved ones and friends, I thank all of you for all your support and love you've given me and I'm sorry for the pain and hurt I've caused you. Just know that I love you all and I will see you on the other side."
Aldrich was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. Outside the prison were several protestors, a religious group from Sam Houston State University, who come to every execution to protest the death penalty. Also present, a Jacksonville man who knew Nicholas West and supports the execution of Donald Aldrich.
"This case is so unprecedented that if there was ever a case in the nation that deserved the death penalty, this one tonight really does," says Wesley Beard, who was in support of Aldrich's execution.
"I'm not saying that his murder is justified or that what he did was right, I just don't believe that any human being on earth has the right to take the life of another one," says English Sylvester, a death penalty protester from Sam Houston State University.
Aldrich was one of the three people involved in West's murder. Henry Dunn was executed in 2003. David McMillan is still serving a sentence of life in prison.