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Wednesday, December 10, 1997

Inmate with death sentences in three states put to death.

By MICHAEL GRACZYK / Associated Press Writer

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- Michael Lee Lockhart, an Ohio man who had said for years that he wanted to die, was put to death by prison officials Tuesday night for killing a Beaumont police officer almost 10 years ago.

Just before the lethal drugs were administered, Lockhart looked through a window to five family members of his murder victims and asked for their forgiveness.

"I am deeply sorry. It is my hope my death will give you some kind of comfort," he said. Then, he expressed love and thanks to his friends and family and also thanked prison officials whom he said had treated him kindly.

"I am really at peace," he said before closing his eyes. As the drugs took effect, he gasped about three times, then lost consciousness.

Seven minutes later, at 6:24 p.m., he was pronounced dead.

As witnesses emerged from the prison, a crowd of some 100 Beaumont police officers standing down the street erupted in cheers, applause and whistles.

Lockhart, 37, became the 37th man to die by lethal injection in the state's death chamber in 1997, adding to the state's record year for executions. He had been been under death penalties in Texas, Indiana and Florida has said for years he wanted to die.

The execution came hours after the U.S. Supreme Court denied 11th-hour requests for a reprieve.

The drifter from Toledo, Ohio, once claimed to have killed more than two dozen people around the country. He acknowledged three murders during a five-month spree that began in mid-October 1987 with the torture and mutilation of a 16-year-old girl, Windy Gallagher, at her home in Griffith, Ind.

Three months later, his next victim was Jennifer Colhouer, 14, of Land O'Lakes, Fla.

In both cases, the girls were raped and savagely stabbed, their mutilated bodies discovered in their homes by a family member.

Supporting himself with robberies and traveling the country in fancy stolen sports cars, Lockhart on March 22, 1988, gunned down Paul Hulsey Jr. The Beaumont police officer had spotted Lockhart speeding through the southeast Texas city in a stolen red Corvette, then tracked him to a motel where he was spending the night.

Hulsey was trying to arrest Lockhart when he was shot three times with a .357-caliber Magnum pistol. He became the first Beaumont officer to die in the line of duty in 68 years.

"I don't feel one ounce of revenge," Hulsey's father, Paul Sr., said after watching the execution. "I feel relief. But it will never bring back our son."

"I don't have to worry about him getting out," said April Gallagher, whose daughter was killed by Lockhart, and who came from Indiana to see Lockhart die. "Seeing this is to know Michael Lockhart will never be able to do that again."

"There's some relief," Thomas Colhouer, who also lost a daughter to Lockhart, said after emerging from the death chamber. "We can go ahead and put back our lives but it will never be the same. For 10 years my family has suffered."

A Texas jury found Lockhart guilty of capital murder and gave him the first death sentence. An Indiana jury followed with its decision several months later and Lockhart pleaded guilty in the Florida case. Since the Texas conviction came first, Texas had priority in executing him.

"I am guilty for those three cases and take full responsibility for those cases," Lockhart said last week. "I wish I could give my life in place of theirs. I have been praying for this since 1988.

"I don't think I could have stopped (killing). I was fortunate to get caught."

A psychologist who testified at Lockhart's 1988 Texas trial, which was moved from Beaumont to San Antonio because of publicity, said Lockhart was haunted by homosexual impulses, that he had been molested by a family friend and neighbor at the age of 5 or 6 and also was the victim of incest from the time he was 9 until he was 12. The experiences, the psychologist said, caused him to become violent with younger women and enraged with men if he was cornered, like when Hulsey tried to arrest him.

A similar situation occurred at his Texas trial. Ten days after jury selection began, Lockhart bolted from deputies during a lunch break and jumped through a third-floor courthouse window. He didn't get far, suffering a broken bone in the fall.

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