Texas Killer Put to Death After Two Decades

A Texas death row inmate who was granted five stays of execution did not get a sixth. Larry Ray Swearingen, 48, was finally put to death Wednesday night in Huntsville by lethal injection. The execution took place less than an hour after the U.S. Supreme Court denied Swearingen's final appeal, following the state's rejection of his sixth request for a stay of execution.

Swearingen was convicted and sentenced to die for the December 1998 murder of 18-year-old college student Melissa Trotter in Montgomery County. Trotter had been abducted, raped and strangled to death when her body was found in the Sam Houston Forest weeks after her disappearance. "Testimony at Swearingen's capital murder trial indicated that he killed her because she had broken a date with him," says Robert Hurst, spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) in Huntsville.

Melissa Trotter was well-represented on Wednesday evening by family members who have waited years for justice. "Witnesses to the execution were Trotter's parents, her brother, her grandfather, and her uncle," says Hurst. "There were no witnesses present for Swearingen."

Swearingen is the fourth inmate executed in Texas and the 12th in the U.S. this year.

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