Death Chamber Apology

James Earl Patterson (above), 35, was put to death by injection on March 14, 2002, at the Greensville Correctional Facility in Jarratt, Va. It was the first scheduled execution in the country from a conviction based on DNA "cold-hit" evidence. AP / CBS

A convict matched to a 1987 slaying through a search of a DNA database was executed by injection Thursday night.

After being strapped to the gurney, James Patterson, 35, apologized for "the evil I brought into this world by my evil deeds."

Patterson was implicated in the slaying of Joyce S. Aldridge when the state compared DNA samples from the crime with DNA samples in its database of 175,000 inmates.

After the 1999 match, Patterson confessed and pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting and killing Aldridge on Oct. 11, 1987. He had been imprisoned for nearly 14 years on another rape charge and would have been released in 2004.

"I want it to be known that my heart goes out to the Aldridge family and all that I put them through," Patterson said Thursday night.

An Associated Press survey of the 37 other states with the death penalty turned up no previous cases of a cold-hit execution. The Death Penalty Information Center in Washington said it was unaware of such a case.

Virginia became the first state to execute a person whose conviction was based on DNA evidence when Timothy W. Spencer went to the electric chair in 1993 for a series of stranglings in Richmond and Arlington.


By Maria Sanminiatelli
  • Francie Grace

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