JACKSON, Ga., May 17 -- Darrell Gene Devier, convicted of the 1979 kidnapping, rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl, was executed Wednesday in Georgia's electric chair. Warden A.G. 'Jerry' Thomas at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center in Jackson, Ga., pronounced Devier dead at 1:28 p. m. Witnesses reported Devier, 39, appeared calm as he was led into the death chamber and he declined to make a final statement. However, he accepted a final prayer. 'I'll take all I can get when it comes to that,' he replied when asked if he wished a prayer to be said for him. Witnesses said Devier's body lurched back in the chair and tensed when the electrical current surged through him. He appeared to relax about halfway through the two-minute process when the current was reduced from 2,000 to 1,000 volts. Devier was the 20th person executed in Georgia since the state resumed carrying out the death penalty in 1983. It was the second execution in the state in just over one month. Devier was convicted after three trials. Prosecutors said that on Nov. 30, 1979, Devier lay in wait for young Mary Frances Stoner outside her home in Adairsville, northwest Georgia. He lured the girl to his car, then forced her inside, they said. Devier drove the child to a wooded area where he raped her, choked her and crushed her skull with three large rocks, prosecutors said. Some deer hunters found her body the next day.
Vince Stewart, the victim's uncle, was among a group of family members who waited outside the prison for word that Devier's death sentence had been carried out. He said the execution took place after 'waiting far too long.' 'We are relieved this is over,' Stewart said. 'Not once in the last 15 years did her (Stoner's) killer ever say he was sorry or try to apologize.' Devier had been employed by a tree-cutting service and had been working near the youngster's home for two weeks before the crime. Prosecutors said he had often watched her get on and off a school bus. Co-workers told investigators that Devier had talked about wanting to have sexual relations with the child. Although he was questioned the day following the slaying, Devier at first denied any involvement. But when he was arrested a week later, he confessed that he had raped and killed Stoner, police said. Devier had initially been considered a prime suspect because his car matched the description of one seen in the neighborhood just prior to the abduction, one that had been parked earlier at a service station. The service station owner told investigators the auto belonged to Devier. Devier had been arrested on June 3, 1979, for allegedly sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl, but was released due to insuffecient evidence. Investigators cited similarities between that case and the Stoner murder. Devier was tried three times for the killing. His first trial ended in a mistrial in January 1982 after it was revealed that a sequestered juror had discussed the case with a deputy who was a prosecution witness. Devier was found guilty in March 1982 following a second trial and sentenced to death, but that conviction was overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court. The third trial ended in November 1983, with Devier again convicted and sentenced to death. (with additional reporting by Steve Glasser in Atlanta)