Inmate set for death OK with fate

November 5, 2009 7:48:45 AM PST
In March 1998, a Nacogdoches man came home to find four young people burglarizing his home. He shot one, but the homeowner was then brutally murdered. Eleven years later, one man sits on death row with just hours to live. Meanwhile, friends rally, trying to save his life. Eyewitness News talked with to Khristian Oliver about the ultimate price being paid, and what it means to two families.

Oliver has spent most of his adult life on death row. He was only 21 when he was convicted of murder.

"It's all kind of surreal," he said. "I'm going to die tomorrow, so it's hard to get a grip around it."

He's admitted to shooting Joe Collins, 64, while burglarizing his home. Two juvenile accomplices claim he also beat Collins to death.

They served only a few years, and Oliver's pregnant girlfriend who drove the getaway car got life in prison. But Oliver said he did not kill Collins.

"I pray for (Collins' family) every day," he said. "I know they probably have wished that this would have been done a long time ago."

The Collins family will be at Oliver's execution. So will Oliver's parents, who have visited him every week for 11 years.

"I wasn't really sure if my mother would be able to handle it," he said. "And I certainly don't want to put her through anything she can't handle or doesn't want to go through. So, I just left it up to them."

Kermit and Katie Oliver are both well-known artists. Family supporters, like Houston dealer Geri Hooks, have flooded the governor's office with pleas to change Khristian's sentence to life in prison.

All court appeals have been denied.

"I'm not at all uncomfortable about passing away -- I'm a very spiritual person," Oliver said. "I was raised all my life that way. And uh, it's just a part of life. Everybody's got to go someday."

During his last night, Oliver said he'll write letters, thanking all those who tried to save him, and he'll pray.

"(I'll ask for) relief from my sins," Oliver said.

He now has only two options -- the US Supreme Court or Gov. Rick Perry commuting his sentence to life in prison. If neither happens, he will die Thursday evening.

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