March 21, 1995 in Nation/World

Executed Man’s Ex-Wife Is Charged

Associated Press

Thomas Grasso, the two-time killer whose case helped shaped the New York governor’s race, got his death wish Monday. Then, with him safely out of the way, his ex-wife was charged with helping him in one murder.

Prosecutors had delayed filing a murder charge against Lana Yvonne Grooms, fearing Grasso would decide to fight his execution.

Grooms was accused of helping Grasso get into the clapboard house where 87-year-old Hilda Johnson was strangled with an extension cord from her Christmas tree on Christmas Eve 1990. She was arrested at her home on Staten Island in New York City, and was to be arraigned Tuesday, probation department spokesman Jack Ryan said.

Grasso, who had demanded he be put to death for the murder, held his resolve to the end. He died by injection early Monday.

New evidence linking Grooms to the slaying was found during the past two months, Tulsa County District Attorney David Moss said Monday.

Grasso, 32, became symbolic of the fight over the death penalty in New York state, where Gov. Mario Cuomo insisted that Grasso first serve a 20-year-to-life sentence for a 1991 murder in New York City before going to Oklahoma, where he faced execution.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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