Texas executes man who fatally shot grandmother during eight-day crime spree
A Texas death row inmate was executed on Tuesday for fatally shooting a 61-year-old grandmother at her North Texas home nearly a decade ago during an eight-day spate of crimes that included thefts and another killing.
Mark Anthony Soliz, 37, received a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville for the June 2010 slaying of Nancy Weatherly during a robbery at her rural home near Godley, located 30 miles (48 kilometres) south-west of Fort Worth.
Soliz was the 15th inmate put to death this year in the US.
It was the sixth execution in Texas and the second in as many weeks in the state.
Nine more executions are scheduled this year in Texas, the nation's busiest capital punishment state.
During a five-minute final statement, Soliz apologized profusely from the death chamber gurney.
"I don't know if me passing will bring y'all comfort for the pain and suffering I caused y'all," he said, looking at his victim's son and daughter-in-law, who watched through a window a few feet from him.
"I am at peace. I understand the pain that I caused y'all."
He said he made wrong decisions but forgave himself and was "going with a humble heart."
"I'm just glad I got a chance to talk to y'all," he said.
Soliz thanked his supporters and told the warden he was ready.
As the lethal dose of pentobarbital began, he again turned his head toward Weatherly's relatives.
"I hope y'all forgive me," he said.
He gasped, snorted and appeared to go to sleep.
Eighteen minutes later - at 6.32pm - he was pronounced dead.
His victim's family members declined comment afterward.
State and federal appeals courts and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles turned down requests by Soliz's attorneys to stop the execution, with the most recent denial coming on Monday.
His lawyers filed no other appeals, including to the US Supreme Court, on Tuesday.
Soliz's lawyers had argued he suffered from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, which left him with brain damage.
His attorneys said the disorder is the "functional equivalent" of conditions already recognized by the US Supreme Court as disqualifying exemptions to the death penalty, such as intellectual disability.
Prosecutors portrayed Soliz as a dangerous individual who killed Ms Weatherly for a "pittance of property."
Jurors at his 2012 trial as well as previous appeals court rulings rejected Soliz's claims that his actions were due to the impacts of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
At his trial, prosecutors said Soliz and another man, Jose Ramos, committed at least 13 crimes in the Fort Worth area over eight days in June 2010.
After fatally shooting a deliveryman around 6am on June 29, 2010, the duo later that morning drove in a stolen car to Ms Weatherly's home.
Prosecutors say Soliz and Ramos forced their way into the home at gunpoint and ransacked the place, taking a television, cellphones and credit cards.
Prosecutors say Ms Weatherly begged for her life and pleaded with Soliz not to take her deceased mother's jewellery box before she was shot in the back of the head.
The Supreme Court in 2002 barred the execution of mentally disabled people but has given states some discretion to decide how to determine intellectual disability.
But justices have wrestled with how much discretion to allow.