Texas executes man for prison stabbing

AUSTIN, Texas Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:14pm EDT

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AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A man convicted of fatally stabbing a fellow inmate in a state prison in 1999 was executed in Texas on Thursday evening by lethal injection.

Lee Taylor was to be the second man put to death in Texas this week. But on Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the execution of John Balentine, who fatally shot three teenagers in Amarillo in 1998. Balentine had raised an issue about whether he has a right to be represented by a lawyer in a post-conviction state hearing challenging the effectiveness of his lawyers at trial.

Taylor, 32, used an ice-pick-like weapon made in prison to stab fellow inmate Donta Greene multiple times in what the Texas Department of Criminal Justice describes as a fight stemming from racial tension. Taylor, who is white, was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, according to the department. Greene was black.

Taylor said shortly before he died that he was acting in self-defense.

"I am sorry that I killed him but he would not have been in prison if he was a saint," Taylor said, according to Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Clark said that Taylor also talked about the death penalty itself, saying that not everyone on death row is "a monster."

"I hope people understand the grave injustice by the state," Clark quoted Taylor as saying. "It's not right to kill anybody just because I killed your people. Everyone changes, right?"

At the time of the stabbing at the northeast Texas prison, Taylor was serving a life sentence for an aggravated robbery in which an elderly man died, according to the state attorney general's office.

Taylor was pronounced dead at 6:24 p.m. Thursday, Clark said. His last meal included pizza, soft tacos, fried jalapeno sticks, french fries, fried okra and ice cream, Clark said.

One of the last things Taylor said was: "I'm ready to teleport," according to Clark.

Taylor was the fifth inmate executed in Texas this year. Alabama on Thursday executed a man for brutally murdering a 70-year-old woman in 1995. Those two executions brought to 22 the number of people put to death in the United States so far this year.

Texas has executed more than four times as many people as any other state since the death penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The next execution in Texas is scheduled for Tuesday.

(Editing by Greg McCune)

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