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Death Penalty

Serial killer is executed after Supreme Court refuses stay in bid for drug information

Posted Apr 4, 2014 7:04 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Convicted serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells was executed on Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to issue a stay (PDF) to consider his lawyers’ bid for more information on the drugs that would be used to kill him.

Sells was pronounced dead about 13 minutes after he was injected with a dose of newly obtained pentobarbital, the Associated Press reports. AP says Sells took a few breaths after the injection, closed his eyes and began to snore. The Houston Chronicle says Sells closed his eyes and gasped as the drug was administered.

Sells was sentenced to death for the 1999 stabbing death of 13-year-old Kaylene Harris. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison for abducting 9-year-old Mary Beatrice Perez in 1999 and stabbing her to death. He has been linked to the deaths of more than a dozen people and has claimed responsibility for more than 70 slayings.

Sells’ lawyers, Maurie Levin and Jonathan Ross, had sought more information about the manufacturer of the execution drug. “It is our belief that how we choose to execute prisoners reflects on us as a society,” they said in a statement. “Without transparency about lethal injections, particularly the source and purity of drugs to be used, it is impossible to ensure that executions are humane and constitutional.”

Family members of slain victims expressed relief after the execution. Terry Harris, father of Kaylene Harris, said lethal injection was “way more gentle than what he gave out.”

Mary Torres, the grandmother of Mary Beatrice Perez, expressed a similar sentiment, according to the Houston Chronicle account. “Whatever went through his veins, he went too quick for my satisfaction," she said.

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