U.S. News

Texas resumes executions after moratorium

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (Reuters) - Convicted killer Karl Eugene Chamberlain was put to death by lethal injection in Texas on Wednesday, becoming the first prisoner executed in the state since the U.S. Supreme Court lifted an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty in April.

Texas -- the country’s busiest death penalty state -- is the fifth state to resume executions since the high court rejected a legal challenge to the three-drug cocktail used in most executions for the past 30 years.

Chamberlain, 37, was convicted of the 1991 murder of a 30-year-old Dallas woman who lived in the same apartment complex.

He went to the woman’s apartment on the pretext of borrowing sugar, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He returned minutes later with duct tape and a rifle. After sexually assaulting the young mother, he shot the victim once in the head.

Chamberlain was the 406th inmate executed in Texas since 1982 and the first this year.

Another Texas inmate scheduled to be executed on June 3 received a stay from Texas’ highest criminal court. That court stay has been lifted and Derrick Juan Sonnier’s execution will be rescheduled, according to news reports.

In April, the Supreme Court 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.

Executions have since been carried out in Georgia, Mississippi and Virginia. Texas has scheduled 12 more executions this year.

A Texas convict was executed on September 25 last year hours after the court said it would listen to the arguments and the unofficial moratorium began.

In his last statement, Chamberlain expressed remorse. “I wish I could die more than once to tell you how sorry I am,” he said.

For his last meal he requested food including a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, lunch meat, deviled eggs, six fried cheese-stuffed jalapenos, a chef salad with ranch dressing, onion rings, french fries, a cheeseburger, two fried chicken breasts, barbecue pork rolls, an omelet, milk and orange juice.

Reporting by Eileen O’Grady; editing by Mohammad Zargham