Arizona executes killer who showed no remorse

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 25, 2012 2:53 PM
Arizona executes killer who showed no remorse

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - A defiant killer who asked for no mercy, shunned a clemency hearing and railed against immigrants at his sentencing was put to death by lethal injection in Arizona on Wednesday for kidnapping and killing a Hispanic college student in 1992, officials said.

Thomas Kemp, 63, was pronounced dead at 10:08 a.m. local time at the state prison in Florence, about 60 miles southeast of Phoenix, a state official said. His last words were: "I regret nothing."

Kemp, who acted with an accomplice, was sentenced to death in 1993 for snatching Hector Soto Juarez from outside his Tucson apartment, taking him to a mine northwest of the city and forcing him to disrobe. Juarez was shot fatally in the head.

The former trailer park maintenance man had consistently showed no remorse about the killing, and refused to attend a hearing this month by the Arizona Board of Execution Clemency. He branded the proceeding a "dog and pony show."

At his 1993 sentencing, Kemp said his only regret was not killing an accomplice and unleashed a tirade against Mexican immigrants and the legal system, saying his victim was "beneath my contempt."

"If more of them wound up dead, the rest of them would soon learn to stay in Mexico, where they belong," Kemp said at his sentencing, according to court documents. "I spit on the law and all those who serve it."

In a statement released shortly after the execution, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne called Kemp a "particularly cold-blooded individual."

"He never expressed any kind of remorse for his crimes, which were particularly brutal," Horne said. "Now that Thomas Kemp has paid the penalty for his terrible crimes, it is my hope that his victims and their families will find some measure of peace that justice has been carried out."

According to court testimony, Kemp and his partner, Jeffrey Logan, set the crimes in motion by buying a .380 semiautomatic handgun from a pawn shop days before the abduction. Late on July 11, 1992, the men took Juarez from the apartment parking lot.

At midnight, the two withdrew $200 with Juarez's bank card and drove him to the Silverbell Mine area. Kemp walked his victim 50 to 70 feet from the vehicle, made him take off his clothes and then shot him twice, testimony showed.

Kemp and Logan drove to Flagstaff, where they sold their now repainted vehicle and bought another gun. The two then kidnapped a couple and forced them to drive to Durango, Colorado, where the husband and wife were sexually assaulted.

The couple escaped after driving to Denver, and Kemp and Logan soon separated. Logan was arrested after contacting Tucson police about the Juarez murder. Kemp was taken into custody at a homeless shelter in Tucson.

Kemp was convicted of first-degree murder, kidnapping and armed robbery. He was the third man put to death in the state this year. He was also the 16th person executed in the United States this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

His last meal consisted of a bacon cheeseburger with fries, root beer and a piece of boysenberry pie with strawberry ice cream.

(Reporting by David Schwartz; editing by Tim Gaynor and Mohammad Zargham)