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William Happ first to be executed in Fla. with new drug mix

STARKE — It's been more than 27 years since William Happ strangled Angie Crowley and 24 years since he was sentenced to die. His sentence was carried out Tuesday night: death by chemical injection at Florida State Prison.

In a final statement, Happ expressed remorse for his actions.

"To my agonizing shame, I must confess to the crime," he said. "I wish to offer my most sincere, heartfelt apology. I have prayed for the good Lord to forgive me for my sins. But I understand why those here cannot."

The words didn't mean much to Crowley's brother, Chris.

"The apology, for what it's worth, I personally think that's more for himself than anything," Crowley said, adding that he doesn't forgive Happ. "He needs to ask someone a lot more important than me for forgiveness."

The execution began at 6:02 p.m. Happ's eyes opened and he blinked several times. He closed them and opened them again two minutes later. He then yawned and his jaw dropped open.

At 6:09 p.m., Happ's head began moving back and forth and shortly thereafter his breathing stopped. He was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m.

Happ was the first person to be executed under a new mix of drugs Florida is using for lethal injections. It appeared Happ remained conscious longer and made more body movements after losing consciousness than others executed recently by lethal injection under the old formula.

Angie Crowley's mother and two siblings died before they could see the sentence carried out, but Crowley's surviving sisters and brothers watched as Happ was executed. Chris Crowley traveled from Missouri.

Angie Crowley had moved to Florida from Oregon, Ill., just five months before her 1986 murder. The 21-year-old was working as a travel agent in the Fort Lauderdale area and planned to make the 300-mile drive to visit a college friend in Yankeetown. Crowley was to call her friend from a convenience store pay phone in Crystal River and the friend would guide her the last few miles.

Crowley found the store, but never made it to the phone. Happ smashed the window to the car, kidnapped Crowley and took her to a canal where he gave her 10 to 20 severe blows to the head. He raped her, then strangled her and threw her body in the water.

Happ left for California, where he was arrested on unrelated charges. A detective flew from Florida to get one of his sneakers and later matched it to a shoe print at the scene of the killing.