Heavily armed, deeply paranoid and strung out on drugs, David Lee Powell killed an Austin police officer in 1978. Barring the unexpected, says the Austin American-Statesman, Powell will be executed for that crime on June 15 – 32 years, three weeks and five days after Ablanedo was buried with honors. Texas has never executed a man after so much time has passed, giving rise to the question of whether Powell’s execution been robbed of its meaning and purpose.
A fiercely loyal group of supporters insists that putting him to death now would be a travesty. “He’s the old David Powell” – intelligent, compassionate, articulate and thoughtful – and no longer poses a danger to society, said attorney David Van Os, who befriended Powell in 1968. “This is not how the death penalty was intended to be used.” For those most touched by the officer’s murder, Powell’s execution remains a meaningful – and desired – goal. Irene Ablanedo, his sister, plans to stand at the window in the death chamber to watch Powell die from five feet away. She will be thinking about her brother, what he meant to his family and how he was taken away too early. “I can’t wait for that bastard to take his last breath,” she said. “That is what he deserves.” Speaking from death row, Powell said he wants to live. “I think I still have something to offer in this life,” he said.