Texas Inmate Executed After Setting Fire In Cell

A death-row inmate who had vowed not to go willingly to the death chamber set a fire in his cell Thursday, but when the time came, walked to his death without a fight. Roy Lee Pippin, 51, was executed by lethal injection for the deaths of two Florida men gunned down in a dispute about missing drug money. From the gurney, he blamed the jury, the trial judge and the prosecutor, and said that he was innocent.

'You will answer to your maker when God has found out that you have executed an innocent man. May God have mercy on your souls,' he said.

He ended his final statement by telling the warden, 'Go ahead warden, murder me. Take me home Jesus.'

He was pronounced dead at 6:42 p.m., eight minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow.

In a recent death row interview, Pippin said he was 'going to fight, literally' when it came time to die. Earlier in the day, Department of Criminal Justice officials said Pippin piled up trash and ignited it in his cell by sticking a wire in an electrical outlet. Officers used a water hose to extinguish the blaze.

Prison officials credited talks he had throughout the afternoon with a prison chaplain with calming him before the execution.

The Houston air conditioning contractor acknowledged involvement in a Colombian drug operation that used his business to transport drugs and launder cash, but he insisted he wasn't the triggerman who killed cousins Elmer and Fabio Buitrago almost 13 years ago.

The Miami men were taken to a warehouse rented by Pippin and fatally shot because $2 million in drug proceeds was missing.

Pippin blamed the slayings on others in the drug ring.

'I was under duress,' Pippin said. 'They said they were going to kill my family.'

Pippin was disenchanted with his legal help and filed many appeals himself, writing them in his cell and sending them to the courts by dropping them in the mail.

'He's got critical words for everybody,' said Julian Ramirez, who prosecuted Pippin. 'Pippin himself testified, the jury got to hear his tale and explanation and rejected it.'

Pippin was the 11th convicted killer executed this year in Texas, the nation's busiest capital punishment state, and the second in as many nights. A San Antonio man, Vincent Gutierrez, received lethal injection Wednesday night for shooting an Air Force captain 10 years ago during a carjacking.