News 6 days ago

Texas carries out first US execution of 2017

The Associated Press

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — The Latest on the Texas execution (all times local):

6:30 p.m.

Texas has executed death row inmate Christopher Wilkins, who was convicted of killing two men after one of them mocked him for falling for a phony drug deal.

The lethal injection of the 48-year-old Wilkins Wednesday is the nation's first execution this year. Twenty were carried out in the U.S. last year, the lowest number since the 1980s.

Wilkins was declared dead at 6:29 p.m. local time.

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4:40 p.m.

The attorney for a Texas death row inmate set to die Wednesday evening says she plans no last-minute appeals to try to put off the execution.

Hilary Sheard says she's "alarmed and troubled" that during the entire appeals process in recent weeks only one judge on the nine-member Texas Court of Criminal Appeals acknowledged injustice in the case of condemned killer Christopher Wilkins.

The U.S. Supreme Court turned down her appeal for Wilkins about three hours before he was scheduled for lethal injection for a double slaying in Fort Worth in 2005.

Wilkins' execution would be the nation's first this year.

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3:15 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to block the scheduled execution of a Texas death row inmate who killed two men after one of them mocked him for falling for a fake drug deal.

The court's ruling on appeals for 48-year-old Christopher Wilkins came about three hours before his scheduled Wednesday evening lethal injection. It would be the first execution in the nation this year.

Wilkins' attorneys had argued to the Supreme Court that he had poor legal help at his trial and during earlier appeals and that the courts improperly refused to authorize money for a more thorough investigation of those claims to support other appeals and a clemency petition.

State attorneys argued courts had rejected similar appeals and that defense lawyers were simply employing delaying tactics.

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8:10 a.m.

Lawyers for a Texas death row inmate who killed two men after one of them mocked him for falling for a fake drug deal are looking to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep him from becoming the first prisoner executed in the nation this year.

Christopher Wilkins, 48, is set for lethal injection Wednesday evening.

Wilkins explained to jurors at his capital murder trial in 2008 how and why he killed his friends in Fort Worth three years earlier, saying he didn't care if they sentenced him to death.

In an appeal pending before the high court, Wilkins' attorneys contended he had poor legal help at trial and during earlier appeals and that the courts improperly refused to authorize money for a more thorough investigation of those claims to support other appeals and a clemency petition.

State attorneys said courts have rejected similar appeals and that