ATLANTA, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Georgia on Wednesday executed a man convicted in the 1992 murder of a family friend, state officials said, after he lost appeals based on the drug to be used in a lethal injection.
The execution of Brian Keith Terrell, 47, takes to 28 the number of people put to death in the United States this year.
Terrell was convicted of shooting and beating to death John Watson, 70, after Watson threatened to prosecute him for using forged checks to steal money out of Watson's bank account, court records showed.
Terrell was executed at 12:52 a.m., the Georgia Department of Corrections said, nearly six hours later than scheduled, as his legal team made final attempts to stay his death sentence.
Late on Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay of execution, just hours after the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals also declined to halt Terrell's execution.
Terrell had been scheduled to die last March, but was spared after prison officials detected a "cloudy" appearance in the drug used for executions, pentobarbital.
In court documents filed last week, Terrell's lawyer said the state still does not know what caused the drug to be defective and has not adopted safeguards to prevent it from happening again.
Georgia's attorneys said the pentobarbital was cloudy because it was stored at too low a temperature and that the state has executed two other inmates with the drug since then without incident.
Terrell had maintained his innocence. He accepted a final prayer but refused to record a final statement before being put to death at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, the state's Department of Corrections said in a statement.
Terrell had declined to request a last meal and would be offered the standard menu of chicken and rice, rutabagas, seasoned turnip greens, dry white beans, cornbread, bread pudding and fruit punch, corrections officials said.
Capital punishment in the United States has been declining in recent years, with the number of executions and new death sentences likely to hit lows not seen for more than 20 years, according to data compiled by the non-profit Death Penalty Information Center.
Terrell was the fifth person put to death in Georgia this year, the center said.
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