WASHINGTON (AFP) – Texas put to death a man convicted of a 2001 rape and murder by using a sedative that has often served to euthanize animals, becoming the third state to do so.
The southern state administered pentobarbital instead of sodium thiopental, which is no longer manufactured in the United States, along with two other drugs as the lethal cocktail to execute Cary Kerr, 46. It was the first time Texas had used the drug.
Ohio and Oklahoma have previously used pentobarbital for lethal injections due to the nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental. South Carolina plans to use pentobarbital for an execution on Friday.
Kerr, who was convicted by a jury and sentenced to death in 2003 for assaulting and strangling 34-year-old Pamela Horton, had claimed his court-appointed lawyer did not represent him properly when appealing his conviction.
Defense lawyers had filed a last-ditch appeal with the US Supreme Court earlier, claiming Kerr lacked adequate counsel for his trial.
He was pronounced dead at 6:19 pm (1229 GMT), 16 minutes after the lethal drugs flowed, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons.
"I am an innocent man," Kerr declared in his final words, Lyons said.
"Never trust a court-appointed attorney. I am ready, warden... Here we go. Lord Jesus, Jesus."
The 219-pound (99-kilogram) man's last meal request was a hearty one, consisting of meat pizza, fried chicken, lasagna, spaghetti, meat tacos, pork ribs with spicy sauce, deep fried mushrooms with french fries, a cheeseburger, a quiche and ice cream.
Kerr was the third person executed in Texas this year and the 13th in the United States.