Texas resumes executions after coronavirus-related shutdown

Texas has resumed carrying out the death penalty, executing a 45-year-old man for murder.

Billy Joe Wardlow was given the lethal injection on Wednesday evening, ending a five-month delay of executions in the busiest death penalty state brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Wardlow was convicted of the killing of 82-year-old Carl Cole at his home in Cason, about 130 miles east of Dallas in the East Texas piney woods, near the Louisiana and Arkansas borders in June 1993.

The US Supreme Court declined to stop the execution at the state penitentiary in Huntsville.

Wardlow was the first inmate in Texas to receive a lethal injection since February 6 and the second in the US since the nation began reopening following pandemic-related shutdowns.

Strapped to the death chamber gurney, Wardlow declined to make a final statement when asked by the warden.

A judge had moved Wardlow’s execution date from April 29 to Wednesday after Morris County District Attorney Steve Cowan requested the change citing the statewide disaster declaration due to the virus.

In Texas, the number of confirmed Covid-19 virus cases and hospitalisations have risen in recent weeks.

But state prison officials say safety measures they have put in place will help executions to proceed.

Execution witnesses were given masks and gloves, all prison officers and officials wore masks but Wardlow did not have one.

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