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Texas executes convicted murderer

A Texas inmate was executed Tuesday evening for the death of a corrections officer during a short-lived escape from prison six years ago.

Jerry Martin, 43, had requested that no additional appeals be filed on his behalf, clearing the way for his lethal injection.

From the death chamber gurney, Martin told relatives of the slain corrections officer that he was sorry. "I wish I could take it back, but I can't," he said.

"I hope this gives you closure. I did not murder your loved one. It was an accident. I didn't mean for it to happen, but it happened. I take full responsibility."

Martin was serving a 50-year sentence for attempted capital murder when he and another inmate, John Falk Jr., broke away from a work detail on Sept. 24, 2007. In the ensuing chaos and gunfire, a 59-year-old prison officer on horseback, Susan Canfield, suffered fatal head injuries. Martin and Falk sped away in a stolen pickup truck but were quickly captured.

Canfield's husband and daughter were among the people watching Tuesday through a window in the death chamber.

Martin told his own friends and a brother, watching through another window, that he loved them. "You know I'm at peace. God is the ultimate judge. He knows what happened."

He took a deep breath, then snored as the drug took effect. He was pronounced dead 11 minutes later at 6:27 p.m. CST.

More than 200 corrections officers stood outside the prison in formation as the execution was taking place. Next to them was a riderless horse. A large photo of Canfield was displayed at the steps leading to the prison front door.

"This is a great day and justice has been done," Canfield's husband, Charles, a retired Houston police officer, said after watching Martin die. "I heard what he said. I accept what he said. Do I give it any credibility? No, sir, I don't.

"The fact is he was escaping. ... I don't care if you intend it or not. You committed the act and, in this state, thank God we live in one where capital murder exists and where that punishment exists."

Martin's execution was the 16th and last scheduled for this year in Texas, which carries out capital punishment more than any other state.

"There really isn't much I can say," one of Martin's attorneys, David Schulman, said last week. "He doesn't want us to do anything and he's made that clear.

"He is not crazy. This is not some delusional thing."

The 16 executions this year in Texas are about average in recent years for the state that accounts for nearly half of the 36 executions in the U.S. so far in 2013. Florida is second with seven. Texas has at least six scheduled for the early months of 2014.

The Canadian Press


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