Texas carries out first US execution of 2020

Undated photo of John Gardner, a prisoner on death row in Texas. — Texas Department of Criminal Justice handout via  Reuters
Undated photo of John Gardner, a prisoner on death row in Texas. — Texas Department of Criminal Justice handout via Reuters

HOUSTON, Jan 16 — Texas yesterday carried out the first execution of the year in the United States, putting to death by lethal injection a man convicted of killing his wife 15 years ago because she wanted a divorce.

John Gardner, 64, was sentenced to death in 2006 for killing his fifth wife, who had left him after multiple incidents of physical violence and filed for divorce.

Two weeks before the divorce was to be finalised, Gardner broke into the woman's new home and shot her in the head. Tammy Gardner died two days later.

Prosecutors say Gardner had a long history of violence against his wives. He fatally shot his second wife while she was pregnant.

He had also kidnapped his third wife and beat her daughter, prosecutors say.

Lawyers for Gardner filed an appeal before the US Supreme Court in September, asking that the case be reopened on grounds that he was not properly defended in his trial. They argued that his lawyers should have developed the theory of “abandonment rage” to explain his actions.

The court refused to take up this appeal on Monday and no further appeal was filed.

In his final statement, Gardner asked Tammy Gardner's family for forgiveness.

“I hope you find peace, joy and closure. Whatever it takes to forgive me. I am sorry. I know you cannot forgive me but I hope one day you will,” Gardner said.

Last year 22 people were executed in the United States, including nine in Texas. — AFP

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