HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A Texas inmate who killed his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her 7-year-old son 17 years ago was executed by lethal injection on Wednesday.
Stephen Dale Barbee, 55, of Azle, was executed at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville. He was pronounced dead in Huntsville at 7:35 p.m. CST, the Star-Telegram newspaper of Fort Worth reported.
He was convicted in the February 2005 deaths of Lisa Underwood, 34, and her son, Jayden, The Texas Tribune reported. The victims were suffocated at their home in Fort Worth, and their bodies were later found buried in a shallow grave in nearby Denton County, according to the newspaper.
Fort Worth police said Barbee confessed to the killings, but he later said he was coerced into making a confession, the Star-Telegram reported. According to police, Barbee killed Underwood because he feared her unborn child was his and would ruin his new marriage, according to the newspaper.
Barbee also feared that if the child was his, he would have to pay child support, the Tribune reported.
DNA evidence later proved the baby was not Barbee’s, according to the Star-Tribune.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday declined an appeal from Barbee’s lawyers to stop the execution, according to The Associated Press.
Barbee’s attorneys had asked the courts to stay his execution, arguing his religious rights were being violated because the state prison system did not create a written policy on the issue, the AP reported. Attorneys also claimed that prison officials were indifferent to Barbee’s needs.
In March, the U.S. Supreme Court said states must accommodate the wishes of death row inmates who want to have their faith leaders pray and touch them during their executions, according to the AP.
On Tuesday, a district judge halted Barbee’s execution, stating Texas’ prison system can only kill the death row prisoner after creating and adopting a new execution policy that clearly defines the inmate’s final religious rights, the Tribune reported. But a federal appeals court and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Texas on Wednesday, paving the way for the execution to go forward.
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