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Prisoner in N.C. becomes 1,000th executed since '77

RALEIGH, N.C. -- A double murderer who said he didn't want to be known as a number became the 1,000th person executed in the United States since capital punishment resumed 28 years ago.

Kenneth Lee Boyd, who gunned down his estranged wife and father-in-law 17 years earlier, died at 2:15 a.m. yesterday after receiving a lethal injection.

After watching Boyd die, Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page said the victims should be remembered. ''Tonight, justice has been served for Mr. Kenneth Boyd," Page said.

Boyd's death rallied death penalty opponents, and about 150 protesters gathered outside the prison.

''Maybe Kenneth Boyd won't have died in vain, in a way, because I believe the more people think about the death penalty and are exposed to it, the more they don't like it," said Stephen Dear, executive director of People of Faith Against the Death Penalty.

''Any attention to the death penalty is good because it's a filthy, rotten system," he said.

Boyd, 57, did not deny killing Julie Curry Boyd, 36, and her father, 57-year-old Thomas Dillard Curry. But he said he thought he should be sentenced to life in prison, and he didn't like the milestone his death would mark.

''I'd hate to be remembered as that," Boyd said in an interview Wednesday. ''I don't like the idea of being picked as a number."

The Supreme Court in 1976 ruled that capital punishment could resume after a 10-year moratorium. The first execution took place the following year, when Gary Gilmore went before a firing squad in Utah.

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