Texas executes man for 1990 murder and rape conviction
A 50-year-old Texas burglar convicted of murdering a man and raping his wife during a 1990 break-in was executed by lethal injection on Tuesday, state justice officials said.
Rickey Lewis, 50, was executed at 6:32pm local time (2332 GMT), a statement from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.
Lewis had only recently been released on parole from a lengthy jail term following a third burglary conviction when he and two other men broke into the home of 45-year-old George Newman and his wife in Smith County, Texas on September 16, 1990.
He was convicted of raping Newman’s wife, Connie Hilton, at a 1994 trial, after DNA evidence linked him to the rape. The two other men who took part in the break-in were never identified.
Lewis had long protested his innocence of murder but saw a bid to have his case reviewed turned down by the US Supreme Court, while the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted against clemency.
At his execution on Tuesday, Lewis admitted raping Hilton but insisted he was not guilty of murder as the lethal injection was administered.
“I’m sorry for what happened to you,” he told his victim. “If I hadn’t raped you then you wouldn’t have lived. I didn’t kill Mr Newman and I didn’t rob your house…. I was just there.
“I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through. It wasn’t me that harmed and stole all of your stuff.”
Newman’s victim, Hilton, has written extensively about her ordeal.
In an account of the attack, she has said her husband was shot and killed by the intruders before she was raped by Lewis as the two other men ransacked their home before fleeing and leaving her for dead.
Hilton now works as a coordinator for a Texas organization which runs programs aimed at reducing the recidivism rates of inmates while providing counseling for victims of crime and offenders.
Newman is the second man to be executed in Texas in 2013, the sixth so far this year in the United States, according to figures from the Death Penalty Information Center.
A total of 494 inmates have been put to death since the reinstatement of capital punishment in the United States in 1976. Eleven other executions are scheduled in Texas this year, including four in April.