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Oklahoma executes man who killed when he was 17

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma (Reuters) -- Oklahoma Thursday executed a man who robbed and burned to death two restaurant workers when he was 17 in a case that raised questions about implementing capital punishment for a crime committed by a minor.

Scott Allen Hain, 32, died at 8:35 p.m., four minutes after prison officials injected him with a lethal cocktail of poisons to stop his heart and breathing. He had no final statement.

Hours before Hain was put to death, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a stay on the execution that had been issued by a federal appeals court in Denver Wednesday.

The case drew international attention because Hain was 17 at the time of the murder and raised questions about implementing the death penalty for crimes committed by minors. The United States is one of a handful of nations that has executed juvenile offenders in the past five years.

Hain was executed for the 1987 double murder of Michael William Houghton and Laura Lee Sanders. Hain and an accomplice, Robert Wayne Lambert, then 21, abducted the two outside a Tulsa bar, robbed them of $565, then locked the couple in the trunk of a car and burned them alive.

Police said Hain and Lambert left the victims to burn to death in a car and then returned to the scene to inspect the charred corpses of their victims.

Both were given the death penalty in the case. Lambert has not yet been executed.

Hain's last requested meal was cheeseburgers, onion rings and ice cream.

"Given Hain's age at the time of the crime, his execution would be contrary to American standards of justice, fairness and decency, which punish according to the degree of culpability and reserve the death penalty for the 'worst of the worst' offenders," the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma said in a statement.

The group was backing life in prison as a punishment for Hain.

The decision by the Supreme Court to overturn the stay indicates that the body will not likely consider banning executions in certain cases on the basis that the offenders were juveniles at the time they committed crimes, court watchers said.

About 17 family members and friends of the victim were present for the execution.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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