U.S. News

Texas, Virginia execute convicted killers

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (Reuters) - A man convicted of murdering his adoptive parents was put to death by lethal injection in Texas on Thursday, the second prisoner executed in the state since the U.S. Supreme Court lifted an unofficial death penalty moratorium in April.

Carlton Turner is seen in an undated prison photo. REUTERS/Texas Department of Criminal Justice/Handout

Carlton Turner’s was the first of three executions scheduled for July in Texas, the country’s busiest death penalty state. Texas has 14 additional executions slated for this year.

Turner, 29, was convicted of fatally shooting his adoptive parents -- Carlton Sr., 43, and Tonya, 40 -- in their Irving, Texas, home in August 1998.

Turner, 19 at the time, shot both victims several times in the head, stashed their bodies in the garage, took their cash and jewelry, and threw a party for his friends at the house.

The Supreme Court in April rejected by a vote of 7-2 a challenge by two Kentucky death row inmates who argued the current lethal injection method inflicts needless pain and suffering in violation of a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Texas was the fifth state to resume executions after the high court rejected the legal challenge to the three-drug cocktail used in most executions for the past 30 years.

Turner was the 407th inmate executed in Texas since 1982, when the state resumed executions following the Supreme Court’s reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976, and its second this year. Texas executed convicted killer Karl Eugene Chamberlain on June 11.

In his last statement, Turner apologized to his family. “I know I was wrong. I accept responsibility as a man,” he said.

For his last meal he requested fried chicken, cheese and onion omelets and chocolate cake.

The state of Virginia also carried out a death sentence on Thursday, executing a man convicted in 2002 of murdering a 79-year-old neighbor during a robbery.

Kent Jackson, 26, was put to death by lethal injection after Gov. Timothy Kaine, a Democrat, refused to grant him clemency and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his request for a stay of execution and turned down his appeal.

A Department of Corrections spokesman quoted Jackson as saying in his last statement: “You all can’t kill me. I’m the king. Remember me like you remember Jesus. I’ll be back.”

Jackson requested a last meal, but asked that the contents not be released, Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor said.

With 101 executions since 1976, Virginia ranks second in the nation behind Texas, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a group opposed to capital punishment. Oklahoma is ranked third, with 86 executions.

All but one of the 38 U.S. states with the death penalty and the federal government use lethal injection for executions. The only exception is Nebraska, which requires electrocution.

Reporting by Chris Baltimore; editing by Todd Eastham