Condemned Hansen Spends Final Hours Talking, Writing Letters

Tracy Alan Hansen spent the final hours before his scheduled Wednesday execution talking, asking questions and writing letters, penitentiary officials said. While talkative, Hansen also was "anxious,'' as he walked around his cell, occasionally rubbing his head, prison officials said in a statement.

If the life-claiming chemicals are injected into Hansen at 6 p.m. at the state penitentiary at Parchman, it will be Mississippi's first execution in 13 years and the first using lethal injection.

Hansen's last chance rested with the U.S. Supreme Court after Gov. Ronnie Musgrove denied clemency Tuesday to the man who gunned down a state trooper during a routine traffic stop on Interstate 10. Hansen's attorneys have filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the original indictment. Other appeals are possible in the final hours.

"Mr. Hansen received a fair trial. Numerous courts and judges reviewed his case and affirmed the guilty verdict,'' Musgrove said in rejecting clemency. "The sentence of death is just and it is justified.''

Hansen, 39, was sentenced to die for the April 10, 1987 death of State Trooper Bruce Ladner. Hansen's female companion was sentenced to life in prison.

Hansen was allowed to make collect telephone calls Wednesday morning and requested a final meal of seafood, including lobster, shrimp, crab meat and oysters. In an affidavit, the condemned man asked that he would like to have his spiritual adviser witness the execution if his attorneys could not be present.

Barring a successful late appeal, Hansen will be the first inmate executed in Mississippi since 1989 when Leo Edwards Jr. was put to death. Lengthy appeals in several cases have caused the long delay in Mississippi executions.

Musgrove asked Mississippians to pray for the Ladner family and for Hansen.

"May God have mercy on his soul,'' Musgrove said of Hansen.

The governor considered clemency requests from Hansen's attorneys and from Catholic and Episcopal bishops. He said he also read numerous documents and prayed.

"Anytime you have a decision of this magnitude, certainly it's a tough decision,'' said Musgrove, a death penalty supporter.

"Anytime you have a person's life in the balance, it's difficult.''

After Musgrove's news conference in the Woolfolk state office building, death penalty opponent Jan Hillegas waited outside to distribute copies of a 1993 appeal Hansen made to the state Supreme Court to have his death sentence overturned. It included a statement from Hansen: "If I had gotten a chance to speak to the jury at sentencing, I would have told them that I was very sorry about the killing.'' Hillegas said she had faxed a copy of the statement to Musgrove and hoped he would reconsider his decision denying clemency.

Assistant Attorney General Marvin "Sonny'' White, who handles death penalty appeals, said those affidavits have been included in all of Hansen's appeals since 1993. The Mississippi Supreme Court on Monday denied a request to grant a reprieve in the execution.

Attorney General Mike Moore said Tuesday he thinks Mississippi could have other executions in the next few months.

"The death penalty really only acts as a deterrent when it's carried out,'' Moore said.

Moore plans to watch Hansen's execution. Musgrove will be in Jackson and said he will stay in touch with attorneys about late appeals.