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Gary Gilmore's girlfriend says God asked her to forget

SALT LAKE CITY -- The divorced mother of two who loved and left Gary Gilmore 10 years ago says she still feels partly to blame for the two murders that led Gilmore to execution by firing squad.

Gilmore was executed 10 years ago Saturday -- Jan. 17, 1977 -- at the Utah State Prison. His was the first death sentence carried out in the United States in 10 years.

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Nicole Barrett Henry, known as Nicole Barrett Baker when she was Gilmore's girlfriend after he got out of a federal prison in 1976, also said she has become a born-again Christian since Gilmore's death.

'God has asked me to give up thinking about Gary,' she said in an interview broadcast Friday by KSL TV. 'But he hasn't ever asked me to give up the memory of him and forget him.'

Henry said she shoulders part of the blame for Gilmore's killing of two men after she left him.

'I knew that if I left him someone was going to die,' she said. 'I knew that it may be me. I knew that if I left him he would just probably kill me because he wouldn't care, not caring for his own soul.'

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Gilmore refused to appeal his death sentence and state and federal courts ruled he had intelligently made the waiver of his rights and allowed the execution.

Henry's relationship with Gilmore was portrayed in Norman Mailer's Pulitzer prize winning book 'The Executioner's Song,' and in a television movie by the same name.

She met Gilmore in 1976 shortly after his release from prison on parole. She was 19 at the time, already twice divorced and the mother of two.

'With Gary, there persists such a depth there that I probably loved him in the first moment that he spoke to me,' said Henry.

Gilmore's uncle, Vern Damico, recently said Henry married a farmer and was living near Medford, Ore, and had given birth again. She did not discuss her marriage in the broadcast interview.

Henry said her highly publicized joint suicide attempt with Gilmore in November of 1976 was something she decided by herself, and that the killer did not directly ask her to carry it out.

'I remembered standing there with the pills in my hand and just saying, 'God, I don't know if what I'm doing is right,'' Henry said.

After the suicide attempt, Henry's mother, Kathryn Baker, had her daughter committed to the Utah State Hospital. She was still there when Gilmore became the first man executed after new Supreme Court guidelines were adopted on capital punishment. ---

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She said she felt Gilmore's presence continuously.

I was always with Gary after I went into the hospital,' she said. 'Every moment of every day he was right there, almost like he was inside of me. The morning that he was shot, I was laying on my bed and I saw his face and it was contorted with pain and just for a moment it frightened me.

'And then I just felt just panic, just felt dead and afraid inside. And it was just a few moments later (that) one of the doctors came in and told me he had been executed.'

Henry said it is God who took away the pain of Gilmore's execution.

'I never really got over it until I just put all the hurt in God's hands,' she said. 'I can't be Gary's judge. I can't tell God he's got to give him back to me one of these days.'

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