Texas conducts first execution in 6 months

Texas death row inmate Barney Fuller is seen in an undated picture released by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Texas death row inmate Barney Fuller is seen in an undated picture released by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The southern US state of Texas on Wednesday (Oct 5) executed an inmate sentenced to death for murder, amid a nationwide decline in the use of capital punishment.

The authorities carried out the scheduled execution of Barney Fuller, 58, after he dropped all appeals and asked to be put to death for murdering his neighbours 13 years ago.

"I don't have anything to say, you can proceed Warden Jones," Fuller said in his last statement before Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials administered a lethal injection - the state's first execution in six months.

Fuller was pronounced deceased at 7:01 pm (8:01am Thursday Singapore time), becoming the 16th prisoner to be executed in the United States this year. He is the 143rd death-row inmate to "volunteer" for execution since 1977, according to the Death Penalty Information Center website.

Fuller was convicted for the grisly murders of his neighbours, Nathan and Annette Copeland, in May 2003.

Texas has the busiest death chamber in the nation, although the state's use of capital punishment has also significantly declined.

The United States executed 28 inmates in 2015, the lowest figure in 24 years and far from the high of 98 executed in 1999.

Forty-nine per cent of Americans still support capital punishment for people convicted of murder, versus 42 per cent who are opposed, according to the Pew Research Center.

But a majority (51 per cent) of Americans aged 18 to 29 say they are against the death penalty.

Opponents of capital punishment say it will become even more rare if Democrat Hillary Clinton wins the White House in November and nominates a liberal justice to fill a vacancy on the divided Supreme Court.