The execution of an East Texas man brings to close a decade old murder case. Donald Loren Adrich was named the leader of 3 men who kidnapped Nicholas West from Bergfeld Park in November of 1993, took him to a gravel pit in Noonday, and killed him because he was gay.
39 year old, Aldrich, was executed by lethal injection last night in Huntsville. For many waiting outside the prison unit, his execution meant justice had finally been served.
"I feel that East Texans should stand proud that they've sent a message to people that systematically dehumanize gays and lesbians, that their lives are valued," says Wesley Beard, an acquaintance of Nicholas West's.
Beard has been vocal since his friend's murder more than 10 years ago, and says last night's execution was the only answer for the hate crime Donald Aldrich was a part of.
"This case is so unprecedented that if there was ever a case in the nation that deserved the death penalty, this one really does," says Beard.
When asked what his response was to those who say, no one has the right to choose whether Aldrich lives or dies, no matter what he did to someone else, Beard said,
"Judgment starts here. I wasn't here to judge Donald, but we have to hold people humanly accountable."
There to witness the execution, four friends and a spiritual advisor... family members chose not to see Aldrich in his final moments.
With his last words, Aldrich 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."
Outside the prison were death penalty protesters from a religious group who say Aldrich may have committed the crime, but he deserved to live.
"I'm with the belief that human life is precious. 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.
Something echoed by those who remember the life taken from Nicholas West that November night more than 10 years ago.
"I do feel a sense of closure, I don't have any resentment toward his friends, to pass any judgment to them. I hope they also learned something from this, that the horrible crime that Donald Aldrich committed cost him his life this evening."
No friends or family of Nicholas West chose to be present at the execution.
Aldrich was the 16th inmate to be executed in Texas this year. Henry Dunn, also convicted of West's murder, was executed in 2003. Currently, David McMillan, the 3rd man involved in the crime, is serving a sentence of life in prison.