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Texas Executes 3rd Inmate This Week

A murderer becomes the state's 295th since 1982. More are scheduled next week.

January 31, 2003|From Reuters

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Texas put to death a 33-year-old man Thursday for the 1988 murder of a friend whose house he was burglarizing. It was the state's third execution by lethal injection this week.

Granville Riddle of Amarillo was convicted in 1989 for beating Ronnie Hood Bennett, 39, to death with a tire iron during the burglary.

The jury rejected Riddle's claims that he killed Bennett while fending off an assault by the man described as being almost a stepfather to Riddle, who was 19 at the time.

Riddle admitted taking the tire iron to Bennett's home to pry open a window, but said he entered the home through an unlocked door. Police said a window of the home was found pried open the night of the murder.

Thursday, as he lay strapped to the gurney in the execution chamber, Riddle made part of his final statement in French. In English he professed his love for family and friends witnessing the execution. He then talked about himself.

"I have no grudges against anyone, or any of the things that have gone wrong," Riddle said.

"I would like to say to the world I have always been a nice person. I have never been mean-hearted or cruel. I wish everybody well."

For his final meal, Riddle requested steak, baked potato, salad with bleu cheese dressing, rolls, cherry cheesecake, strawberries, oranges, Coca-Cola and coffee.

He was the 295th person executed in Texas since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982, six years after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a national death penalty ban.

Next week, Texas is scheduled to execute John Elliott, a 42-year-old British man, for the 1986 rape and murder of a 19-year-old woman in Austin.

British religious and government leaders have appealed for clemency for Elliott, who was one of three men involved in the woman's rape and the only one charged in her murder.

Elliott is one of two Texas convicts scheduled to be executed next week.

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