A man was executed by injection Thursday for the 1986 stabbing death of a 60-year-old gay man during a robbery. Gary Leon Brown, 44, was executed after Alabama governor Bob Riley denied him clemency on Wednesday. Brown made no final statement, though he appeared to mouth the words "Go with God" and "Forgive them" to his wife, Elizabeth Anne Brown, who was in the witness room with a friend. None of the victim's family attended the execution.
Brown told investigators that he and his cohorts went to the mobile home of Jack David McGraw on Memorial Day 1986 to drink with him, hoping that McGraw would pass out so they could rob him. But McGraw said he had to work the next day and wouldn't party with them. He was tackled outside his residence and dragged back inside, and Brown said he repeatedly stabbed McGraw with a pocketknife. McGraw's body was left in the mobile home, where he lived alone, until it was found by neighborhood children. He had been robbed of $67 and several appliances.
At the time of the murder, Brown was out of jail on bond for an unrelated robbery. The trial judge noted that fact in upholding the jury's recommendation for death.
McGraw was stabbed 78 times. According to trial testimony, the killers boasted of the murder while spouting antigay slurs. Prosecutors said the savageness of the attack indicated that the killing may not have simply been a robbery, though it was not prosecuted as a hate crime.
Archie Bankhead, accused in court of cutting McGraw's throat with a butcher knife, is now serving a life sentence without parole. Also convicted of the murder was James Lynn Bynum, who was paroled from a life sentence in 1997.