Don Ryce watched his son's killer die Wednesday night. He said Juan Carlos Chavez's actions sealed his fate. "As a result of that choice," Ryce said, "he died today."
A last minute appeal delayed for two hours Chavez's execution for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Jimmy Ryce--the 9 year old boy he grabbed near the child's bus stop south of Miami in 1995. But the U.S. Supreme Court quickly denied a stay based on complaints about lethal injection.
Don Ryce hopes other would-be sexual predators might take a lesson from the execution. He said, "Don't kill a child because if you do people will not forget, they will not forgive. We will hunt you down and we will put you to death."
Chavez offered only a handwritten statement before being put to death.
He said in part: "We men are slow to learn that since none of us is righteous, none of us can pass judgment in another's man's sins."
Not a single word of remorse from a man who proclaimed himself at peace.
Laura Moreno is one of the Orlando area jurors who convicted Chavez in 1998. She witnessed his death and said, "I was expecting to feel a little sad but I didn't. Instead I felt a little angry that he got to have a simple peaceful death and just go to sleep. We could all wish for such a death whereas he did not give that to Jimmy at all."
In the end, as Don Ryce put it, a chapter needed to be closed in the life of his family. But nothing can ever fill the void left by the loss of a child whose life held so much hope and promise.