Eric Nance

Eric Nance

Eric Randall Nance (January 1, 1960 – November 28, 2005) was a murderer executed in Arkansas by lethal injection. He was convicted of the murder of 18-year-old Julie Heath, on U.S. Highway 270 between Malvern and Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was the first execution by the state of Arkansas since Charles Laverne Singleton on January 6, 2004.

The murder

Heath was driving to Hot Springs to visit her boyfriend on October 11, 1993. Nance admitted that he stopped to help Heath after her car broke down and offered her a ride to Malvern. The prosecution said that Nance then raped and murdered her. He was later seen in a convenience store wearing no shoes, socks, or shirt. According to the clerk, there were what appeared to be fresh dark, damp stains on his overalls.

Heath's body was found on October 18, 1993 by a hunter. Her throat had been cut. Photographs of the scene show that she was fully clothed, but her belt buckle was partially undone, her pants zipper was not fully up, and the left shoulder of her shirt was torn. The shirt was also on inside out. The medical examiner also reported that her socks and panties were on inside out and her bra was pulled up around the neck and shoulder area. A pubic hair located in Nance's pickup was said by an expert to be microscopically identical to that of Heath.

Nance said he accidentally killed Heath. According to defense testimony, she had become hysterical after seeing a utility knife and began to kick at him. Putting up his hand to stop her, he accidentally lodged the knife in her throat. This version of events was told at the trial by his brother and sister, to whom Nance had told his version of events.

Trial and appeals

Nance was found guilty of capital felony murder, with attempted rape as the underlying felony. During the sentencing phase of the trial, it was revealed that five months before the murder, Nance had been released from a twenty-year sentence for beating two Oklahoma girls in 1982. The jury found that there were no mitigating circumstances in the case, and recommended that the judge sentence Nance to death, which he did on March 31, 1994.

His lawyers argued that it would be unconstitutional ("Atkins v. Virginia") to execute Nance, as he was mentally retarded. A psychologist said that Nance had a IQ below 70. This is at odds with another psychiatrist's testimony that he found Nance to have an IQ of 105. Nance was a heating and air conditioning technician and obtained his high school equivalency certificate in prison. The lawyers also say that DNA tests could show that the pubic hair did not come from Heath.

On November 17, 2005, the Arkansas Parole Board recommended, with a vote of 6-1, that Governor Mike Huckabee deny clemency for Nance. The dissenting vote was from one member who wanted to stay the execution to give more time to determine if Nance was mentally retarded.

The execution was briefly stayed on November 17 by United States federal judge James Moody of the Eastern District of Arkansas. The stay was vacated by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on November 19.


Originally the execution was scheduled for 8 p.m. on November 28. There was a temporary stay order by Justice Clarence Thomas to give him more time to review the case. Thomas is the justice responsible for handling emergency cases from Arkansas. The stay was vacated shortly afterwards and all appeals denied.

Nance made no last statement. The execution proceeded and he was pronounced dead at 9:24 p.m. CST.

He ordered a final meal of two bacon cheeseburgers, french fries, two pints of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and two Coca-Colas.

Witnesses describe the execution as extremely surreal. Nance offered no last words and his spiritual advisor yelled, "May God have mercy on our souls!", which startled some witnesses.Fact|date=May 2008


In 1995, Nance began a 10-year correspondence with James Nelson, an Irish tenor who is critical of the death penalty.cite album-notes
title = Remember Me
albumlink = []
bandname = Celtic Tenors
year = 2005
notestitle = Eric's Song
url =
first = James
last = Nelson
pages =
format = CD booklet
publisher = Telarc International
publisherid =
location = Cleveland, OH
mbid =
] Through their friendship, Nelson realized "that Eric's only means of escape from [his] hell's purgatory was through his letters, his memories and his dreams." With fellow Celtic Tenors Niall Morris and Matthew Gilsenan, Nelson set a poem of Nance's to music and entitled it, "Eric's Song." After Nance's execution, the Celtic Tenors released the song on their album, "Remember Me."

ee also

*Capital punishment in the United States
*Capital punishment in Arkansas


External links

* [ Eric Randall Nance] . "The Clark County Prosecuting Attorney". Retrieved on 2007-11-10.
* [ November 2005 Executions] . "Pro-Death". Retrieved on 2007-11-10.
* [ Do Not Execute Eric Randall Nance!] . "NCADP – The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty". Retrieved on 2007-11-10.
* [ Arkansas Man Executed] . "CBS News" (2005-11-29). Retrieved on 2007-11-10.
* [ Nance v. Norris] . "United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit" (2005-11-22). Retrieved on 2007-11-10.
*cite news|url=|title=The execution of convicted murderer Eric Nance, of Malvern, will apparently be carried out as planned|publisher=Malvern Daily Record|date=November 17, 2005Dead link|date=November 2007
*cite news|url=|title=Appeals Court Removes Stay of Execution for Nance|publisher=Associated Press|date=November 17, 2005Dead link|date=November 2007
*cite news|url=|title=Nance Executed Monday Night|publisher=KLRT-TV|date=November 28, 2005Dead link|date=November 2007

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