AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A man convicted of fatally shooting his live-in girlfriend in 2003 after she refused to give him money was executed in Texas on Wednesday by lethal injection, said state officials.
Donnie Lee Roberts, 41, became the 35th person executed in the United States this year and the 12th in Texas. He was pronounced dead at 6:39 p.m. local time at the state prison in Huntsville, the state Department of Criminal Justice.
Just before he died, Roberts apologized, officials said.
“I am truly sorry,” they quoted him as saying. “I never meant to cause y‘all so much pain.”
He added: “God knows I didn’t want to do what I did. I loved your daughter. I hope to God he lets me see her in heaven so I can apologize to her.”
His victim, dental assistant Vicki Bowen, 44, was found slain in her east Texas house in October 2003 when a co-worker, concerned that she had failed to show up for work, went to Bowen’s home to check on her whereabouts, according to an account of the case from the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
Roberts, who was a crack cocaine user, confessed to officials that he killed Bowen when she refused to give him money, the account said.
“I pointed the gun at her and I said, ‘If you’d just give me some money.’ And she said, ‘No,'” Roberts told officials, according to the attorney general’s account. “And then I said, ‘Look, it doesn’t have to be this way.’ That’s all I remember saying to her. And the next thing I know, I shot her.”
Roberts told a different story at his trial in 2004, saying that he picked up the gun because it was out of place, and that he saw what looked like another gun in Bowen’s pocket.
Former probation and parole officers testified that Roberts, who had been convicted of armed robbery in Louisiana, fled from court-ordered supervision just months before Bowen’s murder, the attorney general’s account said.
During the penalty phase of his trial, jurors learned that Roberts had confessed to the 1992 murder of a man in Louisiana, the account said. He did not stand trial for that crime.
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.
Reporting by Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Steve Gorman and Lisa Shumaker