STARKE, Fla. — David Alan Gore’s eyes wandered around the execution chamber. At the ceiling, the walls and, occasionally, toward the 34 witnesses staring at him through a glass window.
As the first vial of death serum entered his veins, the pale man blinked and took a heavy breath, flaring his nostrils.
Gore closed his eyes for the last time at 6:10 p.m. Thursday. He was pronounced dead nine minutes later at Florida State Prison in Starke. He was 58.
His last hand-written statement: “I want to say to the Elliott family I am sorry for the death of your daughter. I am not the man I was back then, 28 years ago. I’m a Christian. Christ lives within me. I hope you can all find peace today.”
David Alan Gore said to the witnesses while he was strapped to the gurney before being executed. “… I hope they can find in their hearts to forgive me. I don’t fear death. Thank you.”
Gore’s execution was the culmination of 28 years on death row for the first-degree murder of teenager Lynn Elliott of Vero Beach. He also confessed to killing five other woman and girls in Indian River County.
Those 28 years changed him, Gore said in his final statement.
“I want to say to the Elliott family I am sorry for the death of your daughter. I am not the man I was back then, 28 years ago. I’m a Christian. Christ lives within me. I hope you can all find peace today,” he said to the witnesses while he was strapped to the gurney. ” … I hope they can find in their hearts to forgive me. I don’t fear death. Thank you.”
Gore delivered a handwritten statement before the execution process started, which was similar to his final verbal statement.
“I wish above all else my death could bring her back,” the statement said. “I am not the same man today that I was 28 years ago. When I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, I became a new creature in Christ and I know God has truly forgiven me for my past sins.”
Carl Elliott, Lynn Elliott’s 81-year-old father, and his ex-wife Jeanne were two of the witnesses who sat in the front row. He reflected on Gore’s late statement.
“You know, he said he was a Christian,” said Carl Elliott, about Gore’s last words. “And you know what I said to myself, ‘I condemn your soul to hell, sir.’ “
Gore’s execution, he said, didn’t come close to the death his daughter suffered.
“He had it easy compared to my daughter,” Carl Elliott said.
Gov. Rick Scott signed Gore’s death warrant Feb. 28, and the execution was administered without delay. The U.S. Supreme Court denied all of Gore’s final appeals less than two hours before the scheduled execution.
The condemned man woke up at 4:10 a.m. Thursday. He ate a last meal of fried chicken, fries, butter pecan ice cream and a soft drink. He ate most of it, except a few fries, officials said.
Gore spent one hour with his mother, Velma Gore, who traveled to Starke’s Florida State Prison from South Carolina. Gore also spent another hour with Gloria Coleman, one of his three ex-wives.
A Baptist religious adviser met with Gore during the afternoon.
In the evening, about 40 anti-death penalty protesters gathered outside the prison and rang a loud metal bell at 6:10 p.m.
Just minutes earlier, the brown curtains inside the death chamber’s witness room clicked and rolled up slowly, revealing Gore strapped to a gurney under a white sheet.
The only noise was that of the Frigidaire air conditioning window unit, set to 65 degrees.
Watching were the family and friends of at least four of the women Gore killed.
“It was a long wait, and I’m so glad I was here and I came for my daughter and all the other victims,” said victim Barbara Ann Byer’s mother, Nancy Byer, after watching Gore being pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m. “He can’t hurt anyone else, ever, and it’s over and I’m glad I came.”
It wasn’t just the Elliotts daughter whose life Gore took.
Before his 1984 murder trial for Lynn Elliott, Gore confessed to killing a total of four teenage girls and two women with the help of his cousin, Fred Waterfield, who now is 59 and serving multiple life prison sentences.
There was Judy Kay Daley, a 35-year-old visiting Fort Pierce from California.
On July 15, 1981, Gore was working as an auxiliary deputy with the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office when he disabled Daley’s car and pretended to come to her aid at an isolated beach parking lot.
He raped and strangled her. Gore directed lawmen to her dismembered body parts, found in a garbage bag in a citrus grove near Vero Beach.
At another citrus grove, officers found the body parts of Taiwanese immigrants Hsiang Huang Ling, 48, and her daughter Ying Hua Ling, 17. Gore said he stalked Ying Ling on Feb. 19, 1981, as she stepped out of her school bus.
He then abducted, raped and shot them. Gore stashed their remains in two 30-gallon, white metal pesticide drums as well as in a plastic bag he buried in a different citrus grove.
Then, Gore confessed, came the murders of Barbara Ann Byer and Angelica