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Americas

Texas executes 15th person since start of year

Latest update : 2009-05-20

51-year-old Michael Lynn Riley was executed on Tuesday for the murder of a young woman in 1986. An appeals court had granted a stay of execution in September 2005 after lawyers argued that he was mentally challenged.

AFP - A 51-year-old man was executed by lethal injection in the southwestern state of Texas on Tuesday for the February 1986 murder of a young sales clerk as he robbed a convenience store.
  
Michael Lynn Riley, 51, was pronounced dead at 2318 GMT, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said in a statement.
  
In his last words Riley apologized profusely to the family of his victim. "I truly am sorry for the hurt and pain I caused you. I hope you can forgive me."
  
He also addressed his mother. "To my mom, I'm sorry. I love you. I'm not the big son that you wanted me to be. But, I love you."
  
Riley was sentenced to death for the murder of Wynona Lynn Harris, a 23-year-old woman he stabbed 31 times as he robbed a convenience store on February 1, 1986 in the town of Quitman, east of Dallas, where she worked as a clerk.
  
Later, on the day of the robbery, Riley went to the sheriff's office and said he knew something about the murder. He eventually led authorities to evidence including bloodstained coveralls with nearly 1,000 dollars cash in a pocket hidden in a field close to Riley’s house.
  
Riley "confessed to the crime," the office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement.
  
"Riley stated that he picked up a large butcher knife en route to the convenience store, and that once in the store, he waited until Harris' back was turned before he went up to her and stabbed her," the statement read.
  
Riley's first conviction and sentence were thrown out due to a jury-selection error, but he was again convicted in a second trial in September 1995 and sentenced to die.
  
Then in September 2005 a court of appeals granted Riley a stay of execution when lawyers argued that he was mentally challenged, as the US Supreme Court "has banned the execution of people who are mentally retarded," the Texas statement read.
  
He was determined to be mentally competent in September 2007, and after further court motions an execution date was set.
  
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Riley had been arrested eight times before the murder case.
  
Riley is the 15th person executed since the start of 2009 in Texas, a state that has executed 438 inmates since 1976.
 

Date created : 2009-05-20

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