TX executes rapist who killed 93-year-old

HUNTSVILLE, TX "I'm sorry for what I did," William Murray told two nephews of Rena Ratcliff who watched him through a window in the death chamber. "I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. The Lord has forgiven me."

Murray then looked through an adjacent window where his mother and two brothers were among the witnesses and said: "I'll be there waiting for y'all, all right? God bless."

Eight minutes later at 6:20 p.m., he was pronounced dead.

Murray, a former auto mechanic and laborer from Kaufman, was the ninth prisoner put to death this year in the nation's most active death-penalty state.

Murray's lawyer said appeals were exhausted. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the case earlier this year. In addition, a clemency bid to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles was turned down this week.

"Yes, I did do this," Murray told The Associated Press in a recent interview. "I'm not trying to blame this on somebody else. I want people to know I'm sorry for the crime. I pray to the Lord to forgive me and I'm asking them to forgive me. That's all I can do."

Murray blamed drug problems for committing at least a dozen burglaries, including the one in February 1998 where Ratcliff was awakened while he rummaged through her bedroom. The widow hit him with her cane or walker, surprising him, and he said after that he "went crazy."

"I didn't know she was in there," he said. "I messed up. Somebody hit me from behind and I went off.

"I did what I did."

He took about $10 in change from a jar and a knife he later traded for drugs.

Murray had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for burglaries, but was released on probation after three months. The Ratcliff slaying occurred three months after his release.

Besides the burglaries, his record showed he escaped from jail while awaiting trial and sexually assaulted two other inmates while he was locked up.

Power outages in the Huntsville area because of Hurricane Ike had no effect on the lethal injection. Officials said the procedures were not dependent on electricity although the Huntsville Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, where executions are carried out, had normal electric service.

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