A Texas man who was convicted of killing a Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden was executed Wednesday evening in Huntsville, Texas. This was the second execution carried out in the state of Texas this year and the second in as many weeks.
James Garrett Freeman, 35, was sentenced to death by lethal injection for the 2007 murder of Game Warden Justin Hurst. The murder occurred at the end of a 90-minute police chase in Wharton County, about an hour southwest of Houston.
Hurts had been called to backup other officers after another game warden had spotted Freeman allegedly hunting at night from his truck in southeast Wharton County, according to an article by U.S. News and World Report. Freeman led officials on a chase that reached speeds of up to 130 mph.
After Freeman’s truck became disabled with three flat tires, he stopped his truck near a cemetery and stepped out and engaged the officers with gunfire. Freeman showed no hesitation as he stepped out of his truck and began a merciless rain of gunfire on the officers who had been engaged in the pursuit. Officers can be heard in the video expressing their shock at being fired on. He rapidly fired 11 rounds from his .357 Sig caliber pistol. After that he pulled out an AK-47 and opened fire with a 30-round magazine. One of the shots apparently knocked out the police dashcam.
Freeman survived being shot four times by police. Game Warden Hurst was not so lucky. He was fatally wounded in the gunfight on his 34th birthday.
The execution of Freeman began at 6:14 p.m. on Wednesday night, according to the Houston Chronicle. He was asked if he had any last words. Freeman replied, “No, I do not.”
Cop-killer Freeman grimaced slightly as the dose of pentobarbital was injected into his system. He could be seen struggling to keep his eyes open. After taking several deep breaths and then gasping slightly, Freeman’s eyes closed for the last time. He was prounounced dead at 6:30 p.m. The process took 16 minutes, the Houston Chronicle reported.
A large group of motorcycle riders who support law enforcement had gathered outside the famous Texas death house where the executions take place. They began revving their engines so loudly they could be heard by Hurst’s fellow game wardens and Wharton County District Attorney Ross Kurtz who went into the observation room to watch the execution.
Approximately 100 game wardens and other law enforcement officials gathered with the motorcycle riders outside to show support for their brother officer who was senselessly murdered in the line of duty.
Justin Hurst’s brother, Greg Hurst, spoke to the crowd and thanked them for being there to show their support. “Nine years ago – It’s been nine long years,” Hurst said. The Houston Chronicle reported Hurst had tears streaming down from his eyes. “These men and women provided more support to my family … and I really can never repay that. From the deepness of my heart, I love every one of you guys and gals, so thank you very much.”
District Attorney Kurtz said the execution brought the legal proceedings against Freeman to a close. “But obviously, for the family, there is no closure.”
Wharton County Sheriff Jess Howell attended the execution along with the other game wardens and officers. “Justin was a very good friend to everybody, to law enforcement in our community,” said Howell. He was sheriff at the time of the shooting. “When this happened, it’s just a tragedy that hurt every one of us down to our heart, it’s just unbelievable.” Three of Howell’s deputies were involved in the pursuit that led to the shooting of Game Warden Hurst. Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers could also be seen in the video embedded above.
Freeman’s execution was attended by his parents, brother and sister-in-law. They chose not to address the media.
Hurst’s parents and his brother also attended the execution but chose not to witness Freeman’s execution.
Hurst was the eighteenth Texas game warden to be killed in the line of duty since the law enforcement position was created in 1895. He was a twelve-year veteran of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He spent the last five years of his life as a game warden.
Justin Hurst left behind a grieving widow and a child who was four months old at the time of the murder. In 2012, Hurst’s widow, Amanda Hurst, announced that her son, then 5-year-old Kyle Hurst, was of age to begin attending C.O.P.S. Kids Camp.
This article has been updated with additional information.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and is a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter@BobPriceBBTX.