Man ex­e­cuted in guard’s death

In­mate said he was framed in at­tack at Mccon­nell Unit

The Dallas Morning News - - State -

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.

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