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Man put to death in Texas for woman's 2002 slaying

Associated Press Modified: November 8, 2012 at 10:02 pm •  Published: November 8, 2012

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A man described by a prosecutor as "a serial killer in training" was executed Thursday in Texas for a woman's slaying during a break-in at her home a decade ago.

Mario Swain, 33, received a lethal injection for killing Lola Nixon at her home in East Texas' Longview two days after Christmas in 2002. When asked by a warden if he had a final statement before his punishment, the condemned prisoner shook his head, closed his eyes and took several barely audible breaths.

Within a moment, all movement stopped. Swain was pronounced dead 30 minutes later, at 6:39 p.m. CST.

No family members or friends of Nixon were at the execution. Swain also had no relatives among the witnesses.

Swain's attorney, James Volberding, said no late attempts were made in the courts to block the execution, the 13th this year in the nation's busiest capital punishment state.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month refused to review the case, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals last week rejected an appeal that contended a prison expert's testimony during the sentencing phase of Swain's 2003 capital murder trial was false and misleading.

Swain declined media interview requests as his execution date neared.

Evidence showed Swain threw the 46-year-old Nixon's body into the trunk of her BMW after killing her, drove to a remote area outside of the city about 120 miles east of Dallas and dumped it in the back seat of an abandoned car.

Nixon missed a dinner engagement with friends on the night she was slain. Her friends called police when they couldn't reach her the next day, and officers who went to her home found the back door jimmied.

Once inside, they saw blood throughout the house. A neighbor reported seeing an unfamiliar truck parked on the street the night before, and police tracked the vehicle to Swain.

He initially blamed friends for the burglary, then led police to Nixon's body. Authorities determined she'd been beaten with a tire iron, stabbed and strangled.

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