James Joseph Wilkens Jr., 39, was executed by lethal injection on 11 July in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of a former girlfriend's boyfriend and son.
In October 1986, Wilkens, then 25, moved out of the trailer of his girlfriend, Sandra Darlene Williams, 20, and her 4-year-old son, Larry Wayne McMillan Jr. Over the next two months, a relationship developed between Williams and Richard Allan Wood, 28, who was Wilkens' ex-roommate.
In December, Sandra Williams, Richard Wood, and Larry McMillan went to Oklahoma to spend Christmas with Wood's family. Upon their return, Williams carried her son inside and placed him on the couch, next to the front door. While Wood was still outside, Williams went into the bathroom. There, she saw Wilkens standing with a .22-caliber rifle in his hands. She ran, screaming, towards the front door. Wood, who was coming inside just at that time, told her to run for help. Wilkens shot Wood at the front door and shot Williams as she ran out. He then turned the gun toward Larry McMillan, who was still on the couch, and shot him.
Richard Wood and Larry McMillan were dead at the scene. Wood died quickly from a single shot to the head. McMillan, on the other hand, had numerous bullet holes in his body. Investigators picked up seven spent casings from the floor.
Sandra Williams, who was two months pregnant, survived. She testified that she heard Wilkens shoot Wood and saw him drop to the floor. She further testified that she was shot numerous times as she ran out of the trailer, and again as she tried to go back to save her son. She said she pretended to be dead by closing her eyes and holding her breath as Wilkens lifted her legs. She heard her son screaming, then heard seven or eight shots from inside the trailer, and the screaming stopped. She blacked out and later awoke in the hospital.
According to evidence presented at trial, the relationship between Wilkens and Williams deteriorated because Wilkens was jealous of the amount of time Williams spent with her son. As the relationship between Williams and Wood became closer, Wilkens became jealous of Wood also.
Wilkens had previously served 14 months of a five-year sentence for robbery. He was paroled in 1983.
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