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Texas executes Beazley

Napoleon Beazley in 2001  

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (CNN) -- Texas executed confessed killer Napoleon Beazley by lethal injection Tuesday evening for a murder he committed in 1994, when he was 17.

Beazley was sentenced to death for the April 1994 killing of 63-year-old John Luttig. Beazley was convicted of shooting Luttig -- whose son is now a federal judge -- twice in the head as he and two friends tried to steal Luttig's Mercedes-Benz from his driveway.

When asked if he had any final statements, Beazley looked at Luttig's daughter and said no.

As the drugs took effect, Beazley sputtered and gasped, and then was silent. He was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m. (7:17 p.m. ET). It was the 14th execution in Texas this year.

In a written statement, Beazley said the crime he committed "was not just heinous, it was senseless."

But he also criticized the state, saying his execution shows that there are no second chances and tells children "that in some instances, in some cases, killing is right."

About two dozen people protested the execution.

Beazley's attorneys had argued that executing him would violate the Eighth Amendment's provision against cruel and unusual punishment, as well as international treaties on civil and political rights because of his age at the time of the crime.

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Those arguments were unsuccessful, and both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected last-ditch efforts to block the execution.

The high court rejected an emergency stay of execution and an emergency appeal less than two hours before he was scheduled to die.

Justices David Souter, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas recused themselves from the case because Michael Luttig, the victim's son, had worked for them. Michael Luttig is now a judge on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

Earlier in the day, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 10-7 against commuting Beazley's sentence to life in prison and 13-4 against blocking the execution.

In the past 30 years, the board has voted for clemency only once, in 1998.

According to The Associated Press, Beazley's was the 11th prisoner in Texas and the 19th in the United States to be put to death since 1976 for a murder committed when the killer was younger than 18.

In recent years, the United States has seen growing opposition to the death penalty for people who commit murder under the age of 18.

Indiana this year abolished the death penalty in such cases, and Illinois and Maryland halted all executions until they can be sure that issues such as racial bias and legal fairness have been properly addressed.

Executions continue in 36 other states, including Texas.

International opponents of Beazley's execution include Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who recently wrote a letter to the Texas pardons board asking for clemency.

Beazley, who was president of his senior class and a football star, lived in Grapeland, a small town about 60 miles from Tyler, Texas. He had no arrest record, although he has said he sold crack and owned a gun.

He had apologized to the Luttig family, saying there is no excuse for what he did.




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