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Andrew Kokoraleis executed despite late appeals

First published on March 17, 1999.

TAMMS, Ill. ­— Andrew Kokoraleis, a ritualistic killer compared to Charles Manson, died by lethal injection shortly after midnight today despite an intense effort by death-penalty opponents to halt executions in Illinois.

Kokoraleis gasped about three times after the drugs were injected, and one leg moved slightly. His last words included an apology to the family of Lorraine Borowski, a 21-year-old Elmhurst resident whom he was convicted of murdering in 1982.

“To the Borowski family, I’m truly sorry for your loss. I mean this sincerely,” he said. Then, quoting the Bible, he said, “Repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

He then prayed softly to himself. He died at 12:34 p.m., becoming the 12th man executed since Illinois reinstated the death penalty and the first to die at the new maximum-security Tamms Correctional Center.

Borowski’s father, Ray, who witnessed the execution with his wife, Lorraine, and other family members, praised prosecutors, investigators and Gov. Ryan, who refused to grant clemency to Kokoraleis Tuesday.

“We can now anticipate some relief and attempt to continue on with our lives, always remembering that justice has been served,” he said. He did not immediately respond to Kokoraleis’ apology.

Kokoraleis, 35, spent his final hours reading a Bible, drinking water and visiting with his brother, Nicholas Kokoraleis, the only family member to make the long journey to Tamms at the southern tip of Illinois, 375 miles south of Chicago. He refused a sedative and a last meal, choosing to fast.

Prison officials described his demeanor in his last hours as “polite, cooperative and calm.”

In refusing to grant clemency, Ryan said he feels that “some crimes are so horrendous and so heinous that society has a right to demand the ultimate penalty.”

Kokoraleis was executed for his role in the rape, kidnapping and mutilation murder of Borowski. She was one of 18 women whose murders were linked to Kokoraleis and two others.

“This was the worst, most evil crime I’ve ever dealt with,” said Elmhurst Police Chief John Millner, who helped investigate Borowski’s murder. “These offenders were truly monsters to the unsuspecting victims they tortured and mutilated.”

Death penalty opponents had rallied around the case, pressuring Ryan and the General Assembly to temporarily halt executions pending a review of the state’s capital punishment system.

The crux of the moratorium argument was that 11 condemned men have been freed from Death Row since 1977 because of trial errors or because others admitted to the crimes.

Kokoraleis’ attorney, Alan Freedman, who remained in Chicago to oversee Tuesday’s legal developments, said Kokoraleis had felt no remorse in recent days.

“I think it’s very difficult for people on Death Row being condemned to die to have any sense of remorse the way we see remorse,” Freedman said. “Their form of remorse is going peacefully. After all, they are going to die for what they did.”

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