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A jury convicted James Allridge of capital murder in March 1987 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in November 1991. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
Ronald Keith Allridge was convicted of the capital murder of Carla McMillen and was sentenced to death. He was executed on 8 June 1995.
While on death row, James Allridge made art prints and greeting cards. He sold the items, many of which depicted flowers, on an internet web site set up and operated by sympathizers. According to the web site, proceeds went into Allridge's legal defense fund.
In 2001, the state legislature passed a "murderabilia" law, which was intended to prohibit convicts from profiting from the sale of items in connection with their inmate status. In July 2004, Allridge's web site received international media attention when actress Susan Sarandon, who had been pen pals with Allridge for 8 years, visited him on death row. Andy Kahan, a crime victims' advocate who was a driving force behind the 2001 law, filed a formal complaint with TDCJ and with the Polk county district attorney's office, asking them to shut down Allridge's site. At the time of Allridge's execution, the request was still under investigation.
While pursuing his final appeals, Allridge sent a clemency petition to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. In the petition, Allridge requested that his sentence be commuted to life, on the basis that he had become completely rehabilitated on death row and was no longer a danger to society. Saying that he accepted full responsibility for his crime and that he felt deep remorse, Allridge claimed that he had been a model prisoner during his 17 years on death row, and that he spent his spare time writing, drawing and painting, and teaching other inmates to read and write. The parole board rejected his petition. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected his last appeal late in the afternoon of his execution.
"I'm sorry, I really am," Allridge said in his final statement. Speaking slowly and quietly, Allridge said, "I am sorry I destroyed y'all's life. Thank you for forgiving me. To the moon and back, I love you all. I leave you all as I came - in love." The lethal injection was started at 6:13 p.m. Allridge was pronounced dead at 6:22 p.m.
By David Carson. Posted on 27 August 2004. "July 2003" corrected to "July 2004" on 22 September 2004.
Sources: Texas Attorney General's office, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Associated Press.