Robert Moormann, who killed his mother and chopped her into pieces during a
compassionate leave from prison 28 years ago, was put to death Wednesday
morning by lethal injection.
Moments before the lethal injection began, Moormann smiled at the witnesses
assembled behind glass nearby. In his last words, he apologized to his family
and to his victim in a 1972 abduction and rape.
"I hope that this will bring closure and they can start the healing now," he
said. "And I just hope they will forgive me in time."
It was the 1st Arizona execution carried out with a single drug instead of a
3-drug cocktail. But result was the same. Execution started at 10:23 and ended
at 10:33, roughly the same amount of time that the execution with the 3-drug
protocol took. Moormann died with a peaceful look on his face.
Moormann's execution at Arizona State Prison Complex - Florence came after the
9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court denied last minute
requests for a stay late Tuesday and early Wednesday.
Wednesday morning, Moormann met with a Catholic deacon, telling him he was
"ready to go home" and that he hoped there would be healing after his
execution. According to prison officials, he prayed, took communion and said,
"I trust God."
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said "Justice was carried out" but also said
the process took too long.
"There has never been any doubt as to Moorman's guilt for this heinous crime,"
Horne said in a prepared statement. "There is no rational reason for justice to
have been delayed 28 years."
Moormann died within a few hundred yards of where he committed one of the more
bizarre and brutal murders in Arizona history.
Moormann, then 35, was in prison in Florence serving a sentence of nine years
to life for kidnapping and sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl. He had
already had his parole revoked, but was allowed to leave the prison for 72
hours on a "compassionate furlough." He spent it at the Blue Mist Motel across
the street from the prison complex with his 74-year-old mother, with whom he
had been having sexual relations for decades.
They quarreled, and Moormann tied his mother to the bed and beat her, then
suffocated her with a pillow. He later told a probation officer that he had put
the pillow over her face to quiet her, not kill her.
"One night when Mom was having a really bad time I saw Dad put the pillow over
her head," Moormann told the probation officer. "Later he explained to me that
you could use a pillow to knock someone out without hurting her."
Then he panicked, he told investigators, and he "dissected" her, flushing her
fingers down the motel toilet, dumping her head and dismembered body in garbage
cans around Florence, and even sending a box of his mother's bones to the
prison. He told a prison employee that they were spoiled "dog bones."
During his trial, Moormann attempted to convince jurors that he was insane, but
they didn't buy it. A Pinal County Superior Court judge sentenced him to death.
Last Friday, during Moormann's clemency hearing in Florence, mental health
professionals and a former teacher spoke about the tortured life he had led.
"This man was born condemned," said psychiatrist Jack Potts. "Mr. Moormann may
be the worst piece of protoplasm you'll ever see."
Moormann was born in Tucson to a 15-year-old alcoholic who died by the time he
was two. He bounced around foster homes before landing in the care of Henry and
Roberta Maude Moormann in Flagstaff.
He was palsied, of low intelligence, "funny looking," and by some accounts
mentally retarded. By all accounts, he was strange.
He was sent to a psychiatric hospital as a teenager when he shot his mother -
another accident, he claimed. In 1972, he took his 8-year-old neighbor at
gunpoint and fled with her for Las Vegas in his mother's car, raping the girl
along the way. When his car became mired off road, he and the girl hitchhiked.
Connie Jo Swanson, 74, of Phoenix, remembers the day that she and her husband
stopped to help the strange man and the little girl shivering on the side of
the road in the early morning January cold, 2 hours south of Las Vegas. She
gave them both food and put the girl to bed in the back of their motor home as
they continued on to Vegas.
"The little girl never said a word," Swanson told The Arizona Republic.
If Swanson thought the circumstance was strange, she was even more concerned
when she saw Moormann take out his pistol to remove the bullets on a table in
the motor home. She asked if she could put the gun in a drawer and Moormann
Moormann told her that he was taking the child to be with her uncle, and he
said they could drop them off anywhere in Las Vegas. Swanson's husband drove
directly to a police station, dropped Moormann and the girl out front and then
found a pay phone around the corner where they called police.
Swanson claimed the police later said that Moormann told them he had intended
to leave the girl to die in the stuck car, but she kept crying so he took her
with him. According to Swanson, police said Moormann intended to kill the girl
if they weren't picked up shortly, and then intended to kill Swanson and her
family and take the motor home.
When asked why he didn't, Swanson said Moormann told police, "Because they were
nice to me."
Moormann apologized publicly to the girl at the outset of his clemency hearing
Friday. Whether she was present is unknown.
As in most death penalty cases, Moormann's last days were full of appeals and
motions to stay the execution. They argued that Moormann was mentally retarded
and therefore ineligible for execution under federal law. They claimed that the
Arizona Department of Corrections could not be trusted to follow its own
guidelines for lethal injection. On Monday, for example, the department only
just noticed that its supply of one of the three death drugs it uses had passed
its expiration date, and the department was forced to switch to a method that
relies on an overdose of a single barbiturate.
But in the end, the last-minute appeals failed.
(source: Arizona Republic)