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Billie Wayne Coble executed almost 30 years after conviction

Posted at 9:09 PM, Feb 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-01 16:34:55-05

MCLENNAN COUNTY, TX — On Thursday night, Billie Wayne Coble was executed in Huntsville.

In 1990, Coble was convicted of a triple murder in Axtell. Now, the family will get justice after nearly 30 years of waiting.

Before the execution, the Coble family caused a scene and was escorted out of the building.

While Coble was giving his final statement, his son, Gordon Coble, began screaming the word “no” and pounding on the glass.

When authorities tried to remove Gordon from the witness room, he put up a fight. He began thrashing around, kicking and throwing his arms and was then dragged out of the room.

Family member Dalton Coble and a woman then got involved.

The woman yelled, “Why’d you all do this? They just killed his daddy.”

Dalton yelled, “This is bull****. This treatment is harsh.”

All three were removed from the witness room. Only two witnesses were left to watch the execution. They remained calm and prayed.

Gordon and Dalton are in custody. They are at the Walker County Jail and will be charged with resisting arrest and potentially other charges.

Prison officials say they instruct families on what to expect in execution, and call outbursts like this, "unusual."

“It's certainly unusual, I can tell you that there was nothing that appeared overly different in Mr. Coble than other typically anxious offender witnesses who do appear ahead of time,” said Jeremy Desel with the Texas Department of Corrections.

In the end, Texas carried out the death penalty, and the victim's family got the closure they sought.

Coble’s lethal injection began at 6:13 p.m. The process was completed at 6:19 p.m.

Before the doctor could announce Coble’s time of death, he checked for a heartbeat.

During this time, a woman inside the victim’s witness room said, “he has no heart.”

Coble was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m.

This was Billie Wayne Coble's last statement before his execution:

"Yes sir, that will be five dollars I love you, I love you, and I love you. Mike I love you. Where's Nelley at? I love you. That will be five dollars. Take care."

After Coble's execution, a few witnesses spoke.

The Waco Police Department's Assistant Chief Frank Gentsch said:

“I’m here tonight on behalf of the Waco Police Department’s executive staff to represent current and past men and women of the Waco Police Department in their support of Sgt. Bobby Vicha’s family. Almost three decades ago, the Waco Police Department lost Bobby Vicha, an 18 year veteran of the department who was shot and killed while attempting to stop his brother-in-law from murdering his family at their home in Axtell. Sgt. Vicha was an excellent officer and was well-liked by all and to this day, his memory lives with those of us who served with him and is shared with the younger officers in our department. Our prayers and support will continue to be with the Vicha family.”

McLennan County District Attorney Barry Johnson said:

“Bobby Vicha was a fine man and fine police officer. His parents were wonderful people too, Robert and Zelda, I grew up around the corner from them. They’re great people. This is not a happy night. This is the end of a horror story for the Vicha family.”

Coble's ex-wife Karen Vicha said:

“We ask that just as you have kept us on your prayers, you pray for peace for everyone effected today. While we grieve the amazing lives that were lost too soon, we find joy in the blessings and love we have in our family. It is well with our soul.”

J.R. Vicha was just 11 years old when Coble murdered his father, Bobby Vicha, and grandparents, Robert John and Zelda Vicha.

He and his dad lived just a single house down his grandparents. His aunt Karen, who was married to Coble, lived on the other side of the street.

On the day of the killings, Vicha said he remembers getting off the school bus and walking over to Karen's house with her daughter.

"I can remember walking in and Bill was in there and so were my other cousins," J.R. said. "I remember he took my lunch box, set it on the table."

J.R. said Coble had three sets of handcuffs waiting for Karen's three daughters. Coble forgot that J.R. would be there and tied him up since he didn't have another set.

"He took us into Ann Marie's bedroom and put us each on one corner of the bed," J.R. said. "I don't remember what he used on me, maybe some rope or something, I still don't remember."

J.R. believes they were in the room for hours.

"He would come and go," J.R. said. "At that point, I was 11. I didn't think anything bad was going on. I wasn't scared. I think through the whole thing, I didn't really know what was going on."

During that time, Coble shot and killed Robert John and Zelda Vicha and Waco police officer Bobby Vicha inside their own homes.

"Those were probably the three people I was closest too," J.R. said.

While J.R. didn't see Coble as a dangerous man at the time, his opinion changed in the years ahead as he watched him in the courtroom.

"I was a prosecutor for eight years, so every day I dealt with criminals. A lot of bad cases, a lot of bad people," J.R. said. "I've never dealt with anybody that I thought was as bad or as evil as he is."

J.R. said Coble has never apologized or shown remorse for his actions.

"The last time they brought him here to set his execution date, he refused to come out of his cell which was a change," J.R. said. "All the court appearances before that over the last 29 years he would come out smiling, stare at people like it was a show."

J.R. plans to witness Coble's execution on Feb. 28. He said this will give his family some closure.

"Knowing this whole time that he's still alive and having a life, even though he's in prison he has a life," J.R. said. "So I guess finally knowing that he's not there anymore, that will help."

Karen Vicha will be driving in from San Antonio for the execution, but she won't witness it. Karen tells us she'll be waiting in the support room to be there for her family.

"I had absolutely no control that day when everything happened back in August of 1989," Karen said. "But the one thing I can control is what he sees in the last few minutes of his life and it's not going to be me, because I know how he is and I know he would just be happy to see me in his sick mind."

During Coble's last trial, Karen took the stand. She told jurors that in the weeks before the killings, she told Coble she didn't love him anymore and wanted a divorce.

Karen said she has horrific memories of the day her parents and brother were killed.

"I was in disbelief. I remember telling him, 'I can't believe you could do something like this' and he showed me proof that he had done it," Karen said. "At first, you don't think human beings are capable of doing that to each other. Now we know there are just evil people in this world."

Karen is disappointed with the justice system and how long it's taken for Coble to be executed.

"I wish it worked differently and I certainly don't think he should've been alive this long," Karen said. "We're glad to see that it's finally coming to an end."

Karen said Coble has a son and she feels sorry that he will be losing his father, but she doesn't want people to see her family as "poor, pitiful victims."

"We're survivors," Karen said. "His idea was to destroy me and to destroy my family and he did not accomplish that. We're still here and he's not going to be."