Witnesses describe death row inmate's last moments

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FLORENCE, Ariz. -- When the curtains to the death chamber opened Tuesday morning, death row inmate Eric John King was smiling broadly, according to members of the media who witnessed his execution.

"As soon as they opened up the drapes, the first image you see, that man laying here with a sheet up to his neck, but he had a broad smile on his face, you could see his teeth," said 3TV's Mike Watkiss, one of the journalists chosen to witness the execution. "He was clearly gesturing to people he had in the audience who were friends of his."

"An excited smile, a childlike smile -- 'Hi, I see you, I'm here, thanks for coming, kind of, it'll be all right kind of smile,'" said another witness.

Although King, 47, was covered up to his neck, witnesses said he appeared to wave at people he recognized from beneath the sheet.

When the prison warden asked if he had any last words, King said resonantly, "No."

Several minutes later a medical technician walked into the chamber and declared that King was sedated.

He was declared dead at 10:22 a.m at the Arizona State Prison facility in Florence.

"This was nothing more than Mr. King going to sleep, very  peaceful," said witness Bob Bennett of KFYI Radio.

Attorney General Tom Horne, Marciopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and several state legislators were among the witnesses.

Neither King's family members nor those of his victims were believed to be present.

King was sentenced to death for killing two people in a botched convenience store robbery in 1989. He had been on death row for 20 years.