"In last words, condemned man maintains innocence," is Anita Hassan's report for the Houston Chronicle.
While his mother wailed and screamed in the background, Preston Hughes was executed Thursday night for fatally stabbing a teenage girl and her toddler cousin on a dirt road in southwest Houston more than two decades ago.
Hughes was put to death about 31/2 hours after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals filed by his attorney to postpone the punishment. The execution also was slowed by an appeal filed by Hughes to the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals asking that the court reconsider its earlier denial to retest DNA in the case.
Thursday's execution also followed a failed attempt this week by Hughes' attorney to persuade the Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons to commute the inmate's death sentence to life in prison.
In his petition to the board, Hughes' attorney, Pat McCann, argued that police lied when they told jurors Charles identified her attacker as "Preston" in her dying breath.
McCann supplemented his argument with a sworn statement from a deputy Tarrant County medical examiner, who said Charles would have lost consciousness within 60 seconds of the attack. The policeman who claimed to have heard the statement arrived 13 minutes after Charles died, McCann said.
McCann also argued that police checked items confiscated from his client's apartment into their evidence room about three hours before Hughes agreed to the search.
Earlier coverage of Preston Hughes' case begins at the link.
To date, there have been 40 executions in American death penalty states this year; a total of 1,317 post-Furman executions since 1977.
It appears certain that this was the last Texas execution of 2012. According to TDCJ, five execution dates have already been set for 2013.