Victim’s family reunites killer with daughter, granddaughter before execution

Credit: Arkansas Department of Correction via AP

Credit: Arkansas Department of Correction via AP

An Arkansas murderer executed Thursday night saw his daughter for the first time in 17 years and met his 3-year-old granddaughter before he died, thanks to the family of one of his victims.

Kenneth Williams’ 21-year-old daughter, Jasmine Johnson, and her young daughter traveled to Varner Supermax, in Grady, using plane tickets purchased for them by the family of Michael Greenwood, whom Williams killed in a 1999 car crash that occurred after Williams escaped from prison.

Greenwood left behind a 5-year-old daughter, Kayla Greenwood, and a wife pregnant with twin boys, according to the Springfield News-Leader.

Kayla Greenwood told the newspaper that she learned just days before the execution that Williams had a daughter who had not seen him since she was a toddler, and that Johnson had a young daughter of her own. She got Johnson’s name and phone number from Williams’ attorney and called her.

Greenwood’s mother bought the plane tickets so the pair could travel from Washington to Little Rock. The Greenwood family picked them up on Wednesday and drove them to the prison.

"We both cried," Kayla Greenwood told the News-Leader. "We had a lot to talk about and a lot to relate to. We are just excited (about) being able to be there for each other."

Greenwood, who has two young sons herself, also emailed a message to Williams through the attorney.

“I told him we forgive him and where I stood on it,” she said Wednesday before leaving her Springfield home for the prison. “(Johnson) said that when the warden read the email to him, he broke out in tears.”

“When he found out that we are bringing his daughter and granddaughter to see him, and that my mom and dad bought the tickets, he was crying to the attorney,” Greenwood said.

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After Johnson’s visit with her father, Greenwood told the News-Leader that it went well.

"It went amazing," Greenwood told the newspaper in a message. "She loved her visit. He was so thankful for the visit and told her that, every day, he thinks about us and how sorry he is that he robbed us of more than he can understand."

Greenwood said Williams, who turned to God in prison, ministered to other inmates during his incarceration.

The Greenwood family was not able to see Williams before his death, but Williams addressed the pain he caused his victims and their families in his final words.

"I was more than wrong. The crimes I perpetrated against you all was senseless," Williams said, according to KATV in Little Rock.

Williams was serving a life sentence for the 1998 kidnapping and murder of University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff cheerleader Dominique Hurd, but he escaped just three weeks after his 1999 conviction. Williams hid in a container of pig slop being taken from the prison kitchen to a prison farm outside the main gates, the News-Leader reported.

Once outside the gates, he walked to a nearby farm, where he killed the farmer, Cecil Boren, and stole Boren's truck. reported that Williams dragged Boren outside and shot him six times while his wife was at church.

He was fleeing police the next day when he crashed into Michael Greenwood’s water delivery truck, killing him instantly.

While Greenwood’s family forgave Williams and asked the state to spare his life, Boren’s family sought to have the execution move forward.

"We've been waiting a long, long time for this," Boren's widow, Genie Boren, told "He did a wrong. His jury of peers gave him a death sentence. People have to be punished for the things they've done."

KATV reported that Williams also confessed in a prison letter to a Pine Bluff newspaper that he killed a fourth person, Jerrell Jenkins, the same night he killed Hurd in 1998.

Williams was the fourth Arkansas death row inmate to die in eight days as the state rushed to use its supply of midazolam, the first of three drugs used in Arkansas' lethal injection, before its April 30 expiration date. He was pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m. Thursday, 13 minutes after the first injection was administered, according to KATV.