A Texas inmate convicted of murdering a prison guard in 1999 was executed by lethal injection Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court denied last-minute appeals from his lawyers.
Robert Pruett had been in prison since he was a teenager, after being convicted as an accomplice to a murder committed by his father.
While serving that 99-year sentence, he was convicted of killing prison guard Daniel Nagle in a stabbing attack spurred by a dispute over a peanut butter sandwich. The autopsy showed Nagle died of a heart attack caused by trauma from the assault, according to court documents.
Pruett’s execution in Huntsville marked the sixth this year in Texas and the 20th this year in the United States.
He was found guilty and sentenced to death in 2002 for killing 37-year-old Nagle, who was stabbed eight times with a steel rod sharpened at one end and wrapped in tape at the other, according to court documents.
Prosecutors had argued at Pruett’s trial that he killed Nagle because the prison guard had reprimanded him for taking a sandwich into the recreation yard, which violated prison rules, according to court documents. As evidence of a motive, they showed torn pieces of the prison guard’s disciplinary report, found near Nagle’s body.
No physical evidence connected Pruett to the attack, lawyers argued in court documents. At his trial, Pruett said he was framed and Nagle might have been killed by other inmates or officers, the Associated Press reported.
Moments before being executed, Pruett told friends watching through a window that he loved them, the AP reported. He apologized for hurt he caused others, and said he held no grudges.
“I’ve had to learn lessons in life the hard way,” he said. “One day there won’t be a need to hurt people.”
“I’m ready to go,” Pruett said just before being put to death. “Nighty night. I’m done, warden.”
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, Samantha Schmidt