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Texas executes inmate convicted in 1990 murder and rape

By Corrie MacLaggan

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas executed a convicted murderer on Tuesday by lethal injection for killing a man then raping the victim's fiancée, even as he maintained to the end that he was "not a killer," according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Eleven other convicts are scheduled to be executed before the end of July in Texas, which has put to death more people than any other U.S. state since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Last year, it executed 15 people.

Rickey Lewis was convicted of shooting to death George Newman, 45, in 1990 while burglarizing Newman's home in East Texas.

After the shooting, Lewis, then 28, raped Newman's fiancée and stole her vehicle, according to the criminal justice department. The fiancée later climbed out of a bathroom window and drove to a store to call police, the department said.

In his last statement, Lewis said he was sorry for what happened to the woman, but then said, "If I hadn't raped you then you wouldn't have lived." He denied killing Newman and robbing the house.

"When I saw you in the truck driving away, I could have killed you but I didn't," said Lewis, according to a statement provided by prison officials. "I'm not a killer."

DNA analysis showed that Lewis' blood and semen matched traces found at the scene, according to an account of the case from the state attorney general's office.

Lewis already had a long criminal record, including a conviction for assaulting an 18-year-old woman who had gotten in the way of his attempt to burglarize her family's vehicles.

Lewis had said that he had mental disabilities, and those claims delayed a 2003 execution date, but his execution was later rescheduled.

His death marks the second execution this year in Texas and the sixth in the United States, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

(Reporting by Corrie MacLaggan and Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)

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