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2 convicts put to death in Texas

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas — One was repentant, the other defiant.

Two condemned killers who said they were high on drugs when they committed their crimes received lethal doses of drugs in back-to-back executions Wednesday in the nation's busiest death chamber.

Oliver David Cruz, 33, whom supporters described as mentally retarded, was executed for the 1988 abduction, rape and fatal stabbing of a 24-year-old woman stationed at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio.

The U.S. Supreme Court, which has allowed some three dozen mentally ill or retarded prisoners to be executed over the past two decades, refused to stop Cruz's lethal injection.

About a half-hour earlier, Brian Keith Roberson, 36, was executed for the 1986 stabbing deaths of an elderly couple who lived across the street from him in Dallas.

Sobbing and teary-eyed, Cruz asked for forgiveness from his victim's family and his own family and apologized for the slaying.

"I'm sorry for what I did to her 12 years ago," he said just before the lethal drugs took effect. "Take me home, Jesus," he cried. A tear ran down his face moments after he stopped breathing.

The twin lethal injections marked the first multiple executions in Texas in three years. State officials said the double execution was coincidental.

About 100 demonstrators were stationed outside the Huntsville Unit prison Wednesday evening. A few carried signs critical of Gov. George W. Bush.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Parole refused by identical 18-0 votes to recommend to Bush that he halt the executions, the 27th and 28th in Texas this year.

Cruz was convicted of raping and stabbing Kelly Donovan. Cruz blamed the attack on drug use and said he and accomplice Jerry Kemplin, who testified against him in exchange for a 65-year prison term, had taken LSD and drank liquor.

In the Dallas case, Roberson fatally stabbed James Boots, 79, and Boots' wife, Lillian, 75, during a home robbery. He blamed the attack on his use of PCP and liquor.

Roberson was rebellious at the end and used a vulgarity to wind up his final statement.


Web sites: www.deathpenaltyinfo.org

; www.prodeathpenalty.com