Alabama executes man for brutal 1995 murder

TUSCALOOSA, Ala Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:37pm EDT

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala (Reuters) - Alabama on Thursday executed by lethal injection a man who raped, sodomized and murdered a 70-year-old woman in Tuscaloosa County in 1995.

Eddie Duval Powell, 41, was pronounced dead at 6:30 p.m. local time at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, said Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett.

Powell had been on death row for 12 years, and his execution was the fourth in Alabama this year.

His execution was one of two carried out on Thursday night, bringing the number of people put to death in the United States this year to 22. There were 46 executions in 2010.

Powell did not request a special last meal. He ate sandwiches, soda and corn chips from a vending machine.

"I'd like to say I'm sorry for the pain I have caused everyone who has had to deal with this situation -- my family, the victim's family and everyone in this state," he said before being put to death, according to Corbett. "I've made peace with myself and God, and hope that everyone can move on from this situation."

The family of victim Mattie Wesson lamented in a written statement that she did not get to meet four of her grandchildren or any of her four great-grandchildren.

"Our family would like to express our deepest gratitude to everyone that has walked with us during the long journey. It is a journey we did not want to take, but along the way we have been helped by so many people," the family said.

Amnesty International had urged Governor Robert Bentley to commute Powell's death sentence due to his lawyers' arguments that he had a mental disability that would render his execution unconstitutional.

Powell and a friend lived across the street from Wesson in Holt, Alabama. On the morning of March 25, 1995, Powell borrowed his friend's leather jacket and attacked Wesson in her home.

Powell's handprint was found on the window on the front of her home -- where a screen had been cut -- and his semen was found on her body. He shot Wesson and her blood was found on his pants and on the borrowed leather jacket, according to court documents.

Powell took small change and jewelry from the home. He purchased wine with mostly nickels at a nearby gas station, and jewelry similar to Wesson's was found in the pockets of the leather jacket.

Powell was tried twice. The first trial ended in a mistrial when the jury could not agree on the punishment. A second jury found him guilty of murder and recommended the death penalty, which Alabama's appellate courts upheld.

In Texas, a man who stabbed a fellow inmate in a state prison in 1999 also was executed on Thursday.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune)

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