A man who romanced a cashier, robbed her and beat her to death with a hammer was electrocuted Tuesday, becoming the nation's 100th person executed since capital punishment resumed in 1977.
Edward R. Byrne Jr., 28, had argued that he did not intend to kill the woman during the 1984 gas station robbery. But he said Monday he had dated her with the intent of robbing her, knowing she handled large sums of money. And he said when he tried to knock her unconscious, "It didn't work. She didn't become unconscious. I just kept hitting her until she did."Eighteen of the 100 executions since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty have been in Louisiana, which is tied with Florida for the second-highest number nationally. Texas has put 27 people to death.
Thirty-seven states enacted capital punishment laws after the 1976 Supreme Court ruling.
A coroner pronounced Byrne dead at 12:12 a.m., said Jim Morris, deputy secretary of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
Three state and federal courts Monday refused requests by Byrne's lawyers to block the execution. Louisiana's Pardon Board also refused to recommend a commutation of his sentence to life imprisonment.
Six pro-capital punishment demonstrators waited outside the prison for confirmation of Byrne's death. One held a sign reading "Thanks, Sam Jones," alluding to the pseudonym used by officials to protect the anonymity of the executioner.
The sign-carrier identified himself as Johnny Reece of Pineville. He said he felt deprived because the man who killed his stepdaughter was sentenced to life imprisonment.