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Tennessee executes man for couple's slaying

  • Story Highlights
  • Steve Henley dies by lethal injection early Wednesday for 1985 death of couple
  • Henley was convicted of shooting Fred and Edna Stafford, setting farmhouse on fire
  • Tennessee had not executed anyone since September 2007
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(CNN) -- A Tennessee man was executed Wednesday for the death of a couple in 1985, authorities said.

Steve Henley, 55, was executed by lethal injection at 1:33 a.m. ET. Henley was sentenced to death for the slayings of Fred and Edna Stafford. Authorities said Henley shot the couple and later set their farmhouse on fire.

An autopsy found that Edna Stafford was still alive when the fire was set, according to authorities.

Henley had maintained his innocence, blaming the couple's deaths on co-defendant Terry Flatt. Flatt testified that Henley was drunk, high on drugs and angry over a debt he believed the Staffords owed his grandparents.

Flatt served five years in prison before completing his parole last year.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied Henley's appeal late Tuesday. Tennessee last performed its execution in September 2007.

In February 2007, the state put executions on hold when Gov. Phil Bredesen ordered a review of how Tennessee administered the death penalty.

The moratorium was lifted in May 2007 after the state's death-penalty protocols were revised.

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