Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Texas Carries Out 400th Execution Wednesday

August 22, 2007)-- Convicted killer Johnny Ray Conner, 32, became the 400th condemned inmate Texas has put to death since executions resumed in 1982, ten years after the US Supreme Court voided every state death penalty.

The total is by far the highest among states with the death penalty.

Conner received a lethal injection just after 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Texas death chamber in Huntsville.

Earlier Wednesday the US Supreme Court refused to block the execution.

Conner was sentenced to die for the 1998 shooting death of Houston convenience store clerk Kathyanna Nguyen.

She was murdered during a robbery.

A customer also was shot, but survived, and helped identify Conner.

Conner was the 21st convicted killer to be executed this year in Texas.

The Shreveport, La. native, had a history of assaults and drug offenses, including cocaine possession when he was 12.

The execution came just days after the European Union asked Gov. Rick Perry to halt executions and declare a moratorium on capital punishment in the state.

Perry didn’t heed the request.

Perry’s spokesman Robert Black said while Texas "respects our friends in Europe" the state would decline the call for a moratorium.

A US Supreme Court ruling in 1972 voided every state death penalty in the US because it was unfairly and arbitrarily applied.

States including Texas went back to the drawing board and drafted new statutes that ensured consistent application of capital punishment.

The Texas Legislature passed a new law in 1973, and four years later Texas adopted lethal injection as the state’s means of execution.

Texas resumed executing inmates—using lethal injection—on Dec. 7, 1982, when Charlie Brooks, 40, was executed for the murder of a mechanic who was kidnapped from a car lot, placed in the trunk of a car, driven to a motel room and then shot in the head.

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