A man convicted of kidnapping and raping a 16-year-old girl before dousing her with petrol and burying her alive has been executed in the US.
Orlando Hall was the eighth person executed by the government this year since the Trump administration reinstated capital punishment at the federal level this summer, following a nearly two-decade hiatus.
He was pronounced dead at 11.47pm local time (4.37am UK time) after being given a lethal injection of barbiturate pentobarbital at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana.
In his final words, the 49-year-old thanked those who supported him and sought to reassure them, saying: “I’m okay.”
After a statement was read recounting his crimes, Hall took one last opportunity to look to his supporters and say: “Take care of yourselves. Tell my kids I love them.”
The late-night execution came after the Supreme Court denied last-minute legal challenges from Hall’s attorneys, who had argued that racial bias played a role in his sentencing and also raised concerns about the execution protocol and other constitutional issues.
Hall was the second black man to be executed by lethal injection on federal death row in recent months.
He was convicted by an all-white jury for his role in the 1994 abduction, murder and rape of 16-year-old Lisa Rene – the sister of two Texas drug dealers Hall thought had stolen money from him.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) legal defence and educational fund, which filed an amicus brief on Hall’s behalf, argued there was evidence that prosecutors had improperly failed to include black people in the jury based on racial motivations.
Out of the 56 people on federal death row, 26 people are black (46%) and 22 people (39%) are white – despite African-Americans compromising only 13% of the US population.
Federal court documents said Hall was a cannabis trafficker in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who would sometimes buy his drugs in the Dallas area.
He arrived in Dallas on September 24, 1994, met two men at a car wash and gave them $4,700 (£3,541) with the expectation they would return later with the cannabis.
The two men were Rene’s brothers.
Instead, the men claimed their car and the money were stolen in a robbery.
Hall and accomplices decided they were lying and were able to track down the address of the brothers’ apartment in Arlington, Texas.
When Hall and three other men arrived at the apartment, the brothers were not there, but Lisa Rene was home, alone.
The teenager was kidnapped, driven back to a motel room in Arkansas where she was tied up, raped, beaten up with a shovel, doused with petrol and buried alive.
After Hall’s execution Lisa’s sister, Pearl Rene, said her family had reached “the end of a very long and painful chapter in our lives.
“The execution of Orlando Hall will never stop the suffering we continue to endure,” she said.
“Please pray for our family as well as his.”
US Attorney General William Bar ended a 17-year hiatus of federal executions in July, after announcing the prison systems were switching to a new method for using lethal injections.
Before Donald Trump‘s government resumed federal executions, only three inmates had been executed in the previous 56 years.
Two others prisoners are due to be executed in December, including Lisa M Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row.
Another death-row inmate, Brandon Bernard, is set to be executed on December 10, and has asked the court to delay his date. He was convicted of killing two youth ministers on a military reservation in 1999.
It remains unclear whether the president-elect Joe Biden will continue the practice when he takes office.