(WVLT) - Philip Workman was executed early today for killing a Memphis police officer in 1981.
"Philip Workman was pronounced dead by a physician at 1:38am Central Daylight time," said Tennessee Department of Correction Spokeswoman Dorinda Carter
The 53-year-old was put to death by lethal injection at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville.
"And then he said rather quickly, as if he felt he was about to go under, I command my spirit into your hands Lord Jesus Christ," said Janice Broach of WMC-TV in Memphis, of Workman's last words.
About 17 minutes elapsed from the time he was first shown to witnesses to when he was pronounced dead.
Witnesses say he showed no obvious signs of discomfort or pain.
Workman had no family members there as witnesses.
Workman was convicted of the shooting death of Memphis Police Lieutenant Ronald Oliver during a gun battle after a holdup at a fast food restaurant.
Oliver's widow and two step-children witnessed the execution.
Valerie Craig with You Have the Power, a victims' rights group, spoke for the family.
"After 26 years of delays, his family, friends, and coworkers will finally have the opportunity to truly begin to move through the grieving process," said Craig. "The most they can hope for is to receive some peace from the knowledge that the person who put them on this course will never do this to another family.
Even a day before his death, Workman claimed he did not fire the fatal shot.
"Somebody, obviously, for some reason, don't wanna admit that it was an accidental shooting. And just keep it on the scumbag sicko, you know, that robbed the place," Workman said Tuesday while he was on death watch.
Workman's attorneys did file a flurry of last minute appeals last night with federal and state courts.
The State Supreme Court was the last to reject his final plea, which asked for more time to challenge new protocols for lethal injection.
In February, Governor Phil Bredesen imposed a 90 day moratorium on executions after an Associated Press review of the execution procedure manual found it was a jumble of conflicting instructions that mixed lethal injection instructions with those for the old electric chair.
That moratorium ended on May 2 when Governor Bredesen said he felt the state was ready to resume executions under some new rules which were imposed to make the execution less painful.
The three-drug combination now used in Tennessee includes Thiopental, and anesthetic; Pancuronium Bromide, a nerve blocker and muscle paralyzer; and potassium Chloride, a drug to stop the heart.
This is just the third execution in Tennessee in the past 45 years.
Most recently, Sedley Alley was executed on June 28, 2006.
The state executed Robert Glen Coe in 2000.