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Texas Carries Out 250th Execution Under Gov. Rick Perry

11/1/2012 9:11 AM ET

Texan authorities on Wednesday executed 41-year-old Donnie Roberts, convicted of murdering his girlfriend in 2003, by giving a lethal injection.

It was the 250th execution carried out in the U.S. state of Texas under the rule of Governor Rick Perry, and the first Halloween execution since death penalty was reinstated.

He was pronounced dead within 23 minutes of being injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital, reports said.

Roberts was executed for the shooting to death of 44-year-old Vickie Bowen and looting from her home in East Texas.

In less than a dozen years, Texas has executed more than twice as many prisoners than any other U.S. state has executed in three-and-a-half decades.

On the eve of Roberts' execution, Amnesty International had voiced its opposition to capital punishment, saying "it is inescapably cruel and incompatible with human dignity wherever and whenever it occurs."

"Any jurisdiction that still employs the death penalty is utterly at odds with the global abolitionist trend," said Rob Freer, U.S. Researcher at Amnesty International.

Amnesty has repeatedly criticized the Texas authorities for failing to lead their state away from the death penalty and has highlighted arbitrariness, discrimination and error in the application of the punishment in this and other U.S. states.

Under a U.S. Supreme Court precedent, death penalty is supposedly reserved for the "worst of the worst" crimes and offenders.

Since January 2001, there have been about 15,000 murders in Texas and 249 executions.

In a report to mark the 250th execution, Amnesty said one in six of the prisoners put to death in Texas since January 2001 was aged 17, 18 or 19 at the time of the crime.

"After he took office in 2001, Governor Perry acknowledged there was room for improvement in the Texan justice system - a dozen years and 249 executions later, it is still doing its worst," Freer said.

"All Texans - including authorities at all levels and the electorate - should recognize that the only way to eradicate the discrimination, error, unfairness and cruelty associated with the death penalty is to abolish it."

Texas accounts for 38 per cent of executions carried out in the United States since the Supreme Court - in Gregg v. Georgia in 1976 - allowed executions to resume under revised capital laws.

Texas has carried out 12 of the 35 executions so far this year in the United States and is heading for its 500th since the Gregg ruling, according to Amnesty, which opposes the death penalty in all circumstances as being the ultimate cruel and unusual punishment.

by RTT Staff Writer

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