HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A Texas man whose lawyers argued was mentally ill and incompetent for execution was put to death Wednesday evening for killing a 12-year-old girl more than a decade ago.
Jonathan Green, 44, received lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected last-day appeals to spare him. A judge earlier this week stopped the punishment, but an appeals court overturned the reprieve. Then 11th-hour appeals delayed the punishment nearly five hours past the initial 6 p.m. execution time and as the midnight expiration of the death warrant neared.
Asked by the warden if he had a statement from the death chamber gurney, Green shook his head and replied, "No."
But seconds later he changed his mind, saying: "I'm an innocent man. I never killed anyone. Y'all are killing an innocent man."
He then looked down and said his left arm, where one of the needles carrying the lethal drug was inserted, and said, "It's hurting me bad." But almost immediately he began snoring loudly. The sounds stopped after about six breaths.
Green was pronounced dead 18 minutes later at 10:45 p.m.
Green was condemned for the abduction, rape and strangling of Christina Neal, whose body was found at his home in 2000 about a month after she was reported missing. Her family lived across a highway from Green in Dobbin, about 45 miles northwest of Houston.
Christina's parents were among people to watch Green die. They declined to speak with reporters following the execution.
Green's lethal injection is the 10th this year in Texas and the first of four scheduled for this month in the nation's most active death penalty state.
Green's attorneys argued his hallucinations made him ineligible for the death penalty and said a state competency hearing for him two years ago was unfair.
That led to a reprieve from a federal district judge in Houston. But the Texas attorney general's office persuaded the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn that ruling and lift the stay of execution late Tuesday.
Green's lawyer, James Rytting, said his client hallucinated about the "ongoing spiritual warfare between two sets of voices representing good and evil."
The appeals court found the procedures at Green's competency hearing were not improper, that no Supreme Court precedents were violated and that it was reasonable to find Green competent for the death penalty.
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