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Texas resumes executions after months-long shutdown due to Covid-19

Billy Joe Wardlow, convicted for murder, was given the lethal injection yesterday evening.

Convicted murderer Billy Joe Wardlow.
Convicted murderer Billy Joe Wardlow.

TEXAS HAS RESUMED carrying out the death penalty, executing a 45-year-old man for murder.

Billy Joe Wardlow was given the lethal injection yesterday evening, ending a five-month delay of executions in the busiest death penalty state brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Wardlow was convicted of the killing of 82-year-old Carl Cole at his home in Cason, about 210 kilometres east of Dallas, in June 1993.

With the help of his girlfriend at the time, Wardlow held up an elderly man, Carl Cole, in a bid to steal the man’s truck.

The man fought back, and Wardlow, then 18, shot him in the head.

The pair tried to flee Texas for Montana, but were caught in South Dakota after a 15-hour drive from the small Texas town where the crime occurred.

The US Supreme Court declined to stop the execution at the state penitentiary in Huntsville.

Wardlow was the first inmate in Texas to receive a lethal injection since February 6 and the second in the US since the nation began reopening following pandemic-related shutdowns.

Strapped to the death chamber gurney, Wardlow declined to make a final statement when asked by the warden.

A judge had moved Wardlow’s execution date from April 29 to Wednesday after Morris County District Attorney Steve Cowan requested the change citing the statewide disaster declaration due to the virus.

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In Texas, the number of confirmed Covid-19 virus cases and hospitalisations have risen in recent weeks.

But state prison officials say safety measures they have put in place will help executions to proceed.

Execution witnesses were given masks and gloves, all prison officers and officials wore masks but Wardlow did not have one.

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