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Grayson executed for 1980 killing

ATMORE (AP)— Darrell Grayson was executed Thursday evening by lethal injection for the 1980 killing of an 86-year-old widow in her Montevallo home.

Grayson, 46, made a peace sign with both hands and waved them at witnesses. He did not make a lengthy final statement. He just smiled and nodded at witnesses he recognized and said, "Peace."

He was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m. at Holman prison near Atmore. He was executed for the death of Annie Laura Orr, who was robbed and raped before she was killed.

The victim's granddaughter, Lee Rawlings Binion, wiped away tears as she witnessed the execution and in a statement said, "The Orr family has seen the final chapter of a 27-year struggle."

"We are grateful that justice has finally been served," Binion said.

A single death penalty protester kept vigil outside the prison during the execution.

More than 50 supporters of the 46-year-old Grayson, who was 19 at the time of the crime, rallied in Montgomery on Wednesday, urging Riley to intervene in order for DNA tests to determine if Grayson raped the elderly woman.

Grayson's capital murder conviction did not include the rape accusation. But his supporters say it was an aggravating factor cited by prosecutors to get the death sentence and that DNA testing is warranted.

Riley, in a statement Thursday, refused requests to intervene. He said the elderly victim died a "horrifying death" and that Grayson's own testimony and "the overwhelming physical evidence left a jury no doubt he perpetrated a cruel and monstrous crime upon a helpless elderly woman."

The U.S. Supreme Court in a two-sentence order Thursday afternoon denied a request for a stay of execution. The Alabama Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a request to postpone the execution.

State prosecutors opposed any delay, saying Grayson's last-minute appeals didn't warrant a stay of execution for the gruesome murder of Orr, who was attacked in her Montevallo home after midnight on Christmas Eve.

Grayson had a co-defendant, Victor Kennedy, who was also convicted of capital murder and was executed in 1999.

According to the court record, the victim was raped by both men, who had pulled a pillowcase over her head and bound her with masking tape during the assault. Orr died from suffocation and was robbed of about $30 and her wedding rings.

Investigators found Grayson's blood-splattered shirt hidden under a rock near his home. The blood stains matched the victim's blood type, according to court records.

On July 16, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld a Montgomery federal judge's dismissal of a lawsuit that Grayson filed challenging Alabama's lethal injection procedures as being unconstitutionally cruel.

State prosecutors told the 11th Circuit that the Orr murder was described by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals as the actions of "wild ravaging dogs of hell."

As the execution hour approached Thursday, Grayson read two newspapers and his mail and watched TV, requesting a last meal of egg and cheese omelet with fresh sliced tomatoes.

He met with his spiritual adviser, his sister, two nephews and two nieces, and three attorneys.

His mood was described by prison officials as good, laughing and talking with staff. He spent most of his time, however, on the telephone brought to his cell.

In a will, he left his few possessions, including a radio and TV, to four fellow inmates.

Attorney Charlotte Norby and Esther Brown, executive director of Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty, were scheduled to be Grayson's witnesses for the execution.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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