Texas executes man convicted in stabbing murders

Texas executes man convicted in stabbing murders
The death chamber and the steel bars of the viewing room are seen at the federal penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.

WASHINGTON - The US state of Texas executed a man on Wednesday for stabbing to death his ex-girlfriend, her young son and her mother, state prison authorities said.

Jose Villegas, 38, was put to death by lethal injection and pronounced dead at 7.04pm local time (8.04am Singapore time) in Huntsville, said Jason Clark, spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

It was the 17th US execution this year and the seventh in Texas, where an execution has occurred each week over the past five weeks.

Authorities in Texas have executed 515 individuals since the death penalty was reestablished in the United States in 1976. The state is responsible for more than a third of executions nationwide, since then.

In a last statement, Villegas reassured loved ones. "Everything is OK, I love you all, and I love my children. I am at peace," he said.

Villegas was sentenced to death for the January 2002 murder of his 24-year-old ex-girlfriend, her three-year-old son and her 51-year-old mother, who were stabbed multiple times.

According to local media, he was under the influence of cocaine at the time.

In a final appeal to the US Supreme Court, Villegas argued that he was mentally impaired and his execution should be postponed.

But Justice Antonin Scalia, in charge of Texas, denied the appeal Wednesday evening, less than an hour before the scheduled execution time. The court's four progressive justices out of nine total would have stayed the execution.

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