Man executed in guard’s death
Inmate said he was framed in attack at Mcconnell Unit
HUNTSVILLE — A Texas inmate convicted in the death of a prison guard was executed Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his lawyer’s attempts to halt the punishment.
Robert Pruett, 38, was given a lethal injection for the December 1999 death of corrections officer Daniel Nagle a prison southeast of San Antonio. Nagle was repeatedly stabbed with a tape-wrapped metal rod, though an autopsy showed he died from a heart attack that the assault caused.
Prosecutors have said the attack stemmed from a dispute over a peanut butter sandwich that Pruett wanted to take into a recreation yard against prison rules.
In his final statement before being put to death, Pruett said he hurt a lot of people and a lot of people hurt him. He said he was sorry and held no grudges.
“I’ve had to learn lessons in life the hard way,” he said. “One day there won’t be a need to hurt people.”
He told his friends who were watching the execution through a window that he loved them. “I’m ready to go,” Pruett said. “Nighty night. I’m done, warden.”
Pruett, who was already serving a 99-year sentence for a neighbor’s killing near Houston when he was convicted in Nagle’s death, lost two appeals at the Supreme Court as his execution neared. Pruett had said he was framed and that Nagle could have been killed by other inmates or corrupt officers at the Mcconnell Unit.
He became the 20th prisoner put to death this year in the U.S. and the sixth in Texas. Pruett avoided execution in April 2015, hours before he could have been taken to the death chamber, when a state judge halted his punishment so additional DNA testing could be conducted on the rod used to stab the 37-year-old Nagle. The new tests showed no DNA on the tape but uncovered DNA on the rod from an unknown female who authorities said likely handled the shank during the appeals process after the original tests in 2002.