Condemned man praises God in recorded final statement

Little more than three hours before he was put to death Wednesday night, Travis Clinton Hittson recorded a final statement professing his faith in God. 

Asked if he had anything to say before the witnesses gathered in the execution chamber for his lethal injection, former Navy seaman Hittson responded, “no, sir. I’m all right.”

The 45-year-old murderer said what he had to say three hours earlier.

Condemned killers are given two chances for final words; one recorded in the hours before their scheduled executions and the second time once they are on the gurney and minutes from death.

Hittson was pronounced dead at 8:14 p.m. for the 1992 murder and dismemberment of fellow shipmate Conway Utterbeck while they were visiting the Houston County home of the parents of another sailor. Hittson’s supervisor, former Chief Petty Officer Edward Vollmer, pleaded guilty to murdering Utterbeck, avoiding a trial and the risk of a death sentence, is serving life in prison with the possibility of parole; he has been turned down three times and will next be again considered for release in 2025.

Utterbeck’s murder was Vollmer’s idea, hatched as he and Hittson drove home for a night at Warner Robins bars. Vollmer secured Hittson’s help by arguing that Utterbeck, who had stayed behind, was plotting to kill them and they needed to get him first.

Before going into the house, Vollmer put on a bullet-proof vest and took a sawed-off-shotgun, a hand gun and an aluminum bat from his car. He gave Hittson the bat. Hittson struck Utterbeck several times in the head, the first time while he was sleeping in a recliner. Hittson pulled the trigger on a .22-caliber handgun Vollmer gave him.

It also was Vollmer’s idea to dismember Utterbeck and then to bury his torso in Houston County and the rest of his body parts in Pensacola, Fla., where the aircraft carrier they were assigned to was based.

Hittson’s statement was recorded at 5:09 p.m. Wednesday.

“The greatest treasure that I’ve ever found in my life is the Lord Jesus Christ living in my heart,” Hittson said, his voice soft and low. “There’s no other name under Heaven by which men shall be saved and there’s no way to the Father but through Jesus Christ. Everything outside of Him is vanity.So if people are living in sin they need to repent and come to the Lord Jesus Christ and make Him their Lord and savior. That’s it.”

You can hear Hittson's full statement below.

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