September 28, 2005

Indiana executes killer who was on prison furlough

By Karen Murphy

MICHIGAN CITY, Indiana (Reuters) - The state of Indiana on
Wednesday executed a man who bludgeoned his ex-wife to death
while on temporary furlough from prison, where he was serving a
sentence for nearly killing her.

Officials at the Indiana State Prison said Alan Matheney,
54, was pronounced dead at 1:27 a.m. EDT (0527 GMT) after an
injection of lethal chemicals.

"I love my family and my children. I'm sorry for the pain
I've caused them. I thank my friends who stood by me ... I'm
sure my grandchildren will grow up happy and healthy in the
care of their wonderful parents," Matheney said in a final
statement read by his lawyer, Steven Schutte.

For his last meal he had chicken wings, a fried chicken
dinner, large wedges of potatoes, corn on the cob, biscuits and
a chocolate shake.

Given an eight-hour furlough from an Indianapolis prison in
1989, Matheney drove to the northern Indiana home of his
ex-wife, Lisa Bianco, broke in, chased her down in the street
and beat her with the butt of a stolen shotgun until the weapon
broke into pieces.

Pieces of wood were found embedded in Bianco's skull.

The murder led then-Gov. Evan Bayh to suspend prisoner
furloughs and fire two prison employees who neglected to inform
Bianco that Matheney was temporarily free. Furloughs were
designed to reward good behavior and aid inmates' readjustment
to society.

At the time of the murder, Matheney was serving an
eight-year sentence for a 1987 assault in which he raped and
beat Bianco. A month after the couple's 1985 divorce, he had
kidnapped their two daughters.

When he was furloughed, Matheney's mother picked him up for
what was supposed to be a day together in Indianapolis, near
the prison. But he commandeered the car and stole a friend's
unloaded shotgun, searching in vain for ammunition.

Bianco was coming out of the shower when Matheney broke in
and she was wearing underwear and a towel when he caught up
with her as she reached a neighbor's door. One of their
daughters witnessed her mother being beaten to death.

Bianco had been working at a shelter for battered women.

At his murder trial and in subsequent appeals, Matheney's
attorneys said he was delusional, thinking Bianco was having an
affair with a local prosecutor and that the two were conspiring
to keep him in prison. A jury rejected Matheney's insanity

He was the 41st person put to death this year in the United
States, and the 985th since capital punishment was restored in
1976. It was Indiana's fifth execution this year, the most
since 1938 when the state put eight people to death.