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Chester was convicted of capital murder in August 1998, and the jury sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in January 2000.
In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prisoners who are mentally retarded cannot be executed. A federal district court subsequently vacated Chester's death sentence on the grounds that he was retarded. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court's ruling in February 2004, however, reinstating the death sentence. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied, including a last-day appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court alleging that U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judge Edith Jones demonstrated bias against Chester in public remarks she made in February 2013.
On a web site set up for prisoners to request pen pals, Chester stated that he had turned his life over to Christ. He said he preferred to write to a woman from Switzerland or France, aged 38 to 44.
Several dozen policemen and firefighters from Port Arthur traveled to Huntsville for Chester's execution as a gesture of support for Billy Ryman, who was a Port Arthur firefighter.
Members of Ryman's family watched Chester's execution from a viewing room. "I just want to say I don't want you to have hate in your heart for me, because I took your loved one," Chester told them in his last statement. "I know it doesn't mean anything, I told the truth because I feel like you should know who killed your loved one. God watches everything, don't hate me. I'm sorry for taking your loved one."
After thanking his lawyer, Chester concluded his confession. "Elroy Chester wasn't a bad man, I knew me," he said. "A lot of people say I didn't commit those murders, I really did it. That's my statement, Warden, you can go ahead." The lethal injection was then started. He was pronounced dead at 7:04 p.m.
By David Carson. Posted on 13 June 2013.
Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Attorney General's office, court documents, Associated Press, Austin Chronicle, Beaumont Enterprise, Port Arthur News, friendonline.org.