State of Georgia executes inmate for strangulation murder of ex-girlfriend
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By David Beasley
ATLANTA (Reuters) - A man condemned to death for the strangulation murder of his ex-girlfriend in 2001 was executed by the state of Georgia on Wednesday, after spurning any additional efforts for an appeal or 11th-hour reprieve.
Steven Spears, 54, was put to death by lethal injection at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, about 50 miles (80 km) south of Atlanta. He was pronounced dead at 7:30 p.m., state Attorney General Chris Carr said in a statement.
Spears was the 18th person executed this year in the United States and the eighth in Georgia, the most of any state, according to the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center.
On Wednesday, Georgia's pardons and paroles board denied a final request for clemency made on his behalf.
A psychologist and psychiatrist who evaluated Spears on Tuesday at the request of prosecutors and defense lawyers said he told them he did not want to die but wished to forgo any further bids to spare his life because he was tired of prison.
"I don't want to live like I'm living," Spears told Dr. Matthew Norman during an interview, according to a report filed with the courts. "It's like a cancer eating me up every day."
Both experts said they found Spears mentally competent.
Spears told police he killed Sherri Holland, 34, at her home in Lumpkin County because he suspected she was dating someone else, according to court records.
He said he hid in her son's bedroom until the early hours of Aug. 25, 2001, and then attacked Holland, binding her hands and feet with duct tape before strangling her.
"Last thing she said was she loved me," Spears told police after the killing. "Swear to God, that's the last thing she said. Last words came out of her mouth."
Spears, who was arrested after hiding out in the woods for 10 days, showed no remorse for the killing at the time and was quoted as telling authorities: "If I had to do it again, I’d do it," according to the court synopsis.
He was convicted and sentenced to death in 2007. The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the death sentence in 2015 after an automatic appeal.
(Reporting by David Beasley; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney)
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