James Edward Smith was born October 19, 1962 in Jefferson County, Kentucky.
James attended, but didn’t finish college. In his late 20s, he worked as a tarot card salesman and taxi driver. He also claimed to be a voodoo priest.
On March 7, 1983, James attempted to rob the Union Life Insurance Company in the International Trade Center in Houston, Texas.
He put on a mask and walked up to Debra Wilson at the Cashier window. Seeing the gun in James’s hand, she hid behind a filing cabinet. Larry Rohus, the district manager, put some money in a trash can and placed it on a table near James. He started to walk toward Debra, but James stopped him.
James shot Larry once and Larry began to run away. James shot him again, in the chest, killing him.
Another employee of the insurance office chased James to an apartment complex. Several other men joined the chase along the way. They tackled James in the parking lot and held him there until police arrived.
During the jury selection for his trial, James escaped from the courthouse, but was caught soon after.
James was sentenced to death by lethal injection and waived his final appeals. Despite this, the US Supreme Court ruled that James may not have been mentally fit to stand trial and his case was reviewed.
His mother told the court that he practiced black magic, voodoo and witchcraft. He confessed to 6 other murders calling them ritualistic, including the decapitation of a 1 year old. These claims were never substantiated.
He lost a Supreme Court halt of execution by one vote.
His execution by lethal injection took place on June 26, 1990. His last words were “Hare Krishna.”
For his last meal, James asked for rhaeakunda dirt. He told prison officials that he intended to use it for a voodoo ritual.
Dirt was not on the prison’s list of approved food. He was, instead, provided a cup of yogurt.
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