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Wednesday, May 21, 1997

Texas executes Clarence Lackey in 1977 Lubbock slaying

By MICHAEL GRACZYK / Associated Press Writer

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) - The man condemned for abducting, raping and fatally slashing a Lubbock woman nearly 20 years ago in a random attack that stunned the West Texas city was executed by lethal injection Tuesday.

Clarence Lackey, 43, was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. CDT, six minutes after a lethal dose of drugs was released into his arms.

In a brief final statement, Lackey thanked several friends and his two lawyers "for fighting for me."

"I'd like to thank the Lord, Jesus Christ, for keeping me strong," he said, a dog-eared Bible resting on his chest just below a wide leather strap used to restrain him. "I'd like to thank my mother for standing by my side."

Then he told warden Morris Jones that he was through. Just before the drugs took effect, he said, "I love you, mom."

Lackey was the fifth Texas death-row inmate to be executed this month and the second this week. Two more condemned killers are scheduled to die Wednesday and Thursday.

Lackey was sentenced to death for the July 31, 1977, murder of 23-year-old Toni Diane Kumpf. He had two trials in the case, plus a trial that determined he was mentally competent to be tried.

After numerous appeals, Lackey's scheduled execution two years ago was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court when his attorneys, citing British Common Law, argued his lengthy time on death row violated his constitutional guarantees against cruel and unusual punishment.

As a result of his lengthy imprisonment, he suffered mental stress and was physically ill because he worried so much about dying, his lawyers said.

Justice Antonin Scalia eventually wrote the case should be based on American law and that the practices of other countries were not relevant.

"There are depraved individuals and I think he is a depraved individual," said Alton Griffin, the former Lubbock district attorney who first sent Lackey to death row 19 years ago. "I don't see any socially redeeming feature in him that gives him a right to live."

"He's a coldblooded killer," said Capt. Randy Ward, one of two Lubbock detectives who solved Kumpf's murder. "He talked about it, and he showed no remorse. If he hadn't been caught, he would've killed again - that's the way I feel about it."

The victim's father, Jim Kumpf, is bitter about the delays that kept Lackey alive.

"Let's get it over with," he said.

Kumpf, who chose not to attend the execution, told a reporter by telephone afterward that Lackey's death "pleases me."

"Not only that he's gone, but that he found some religion," Kumpf said.

Ms. Kumpf was from Dallas and attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, graduating with a degree in Spanish. When she couldn't find a job in Dallas, she returned to Lubbock late in 1976 to work at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Hospital as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking people.

Lackey had previous convictions, including burglary and burglary with intent to commit rape. He had been out of prison less than six months when Ms. Kumpf was killed.

The random attack occurred about 5 a.m. when Lackey kicked in the door of the woman's Lubbock apartment and dragged her away. She was raped, beaten and nearly decapitated. Her body was found in a cotton field near Lackey's home.

The crime shocked Lubbock and marked a turning point for the West Texas city.

"That's when people lost their innocence and started locking their doors," Ward said.

Lackey's fingerprints were found at the victim's apartment and her blood was on his boots. His boot print was on her door.

Lackey's roommate testified when she came home that morning there was blood all over the place. Police determined the blood was Ms. Kumpf's. The roommate also said that after they heard radio reports of the slaying that Lackey told her: "Baby, I've got to tell you something - I'm the one they're looking for."

At his trial, attorneys attempted to show he was physically abused by his father. A psychiatrist also testified Lackey, a ninth-grade dropout, suffered blackouts after he drank too much liquor.

Lackey was expected to be followed to the death chamber 24 hours later by Bruce Callins, condemned for the June 1980 fatal shooting of Allen Huckleberry during the robbery of a Tarrant County bar. Send a Letter to the Editor about This Story | Start or Join A Discussion about This Story
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