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Texas convict put to death despite pleas on faulty lab

HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- Condemned killer Edward Green III was executed last night despite his attorneys' pleas to halt the execution, citing problems at the Houston police crime lab.

Green, convicted of killing two people in a 1992 robbery, apologized to families of the victims before he was executed by injection.

"I do not come here with the intention to make myself out to be a person I am not," Green said in a brief final statement. "I never claimed to be the best person. . . . I did the best I could with what I had."

Green was pronounced dead at 8:21 p.m. Central time.

Green's mother sobbed uncontrollably as she watched her son die. She collapsed and had to be assisted from the room. A second witness was placed in a wheelchair briefly.

The lawyers, two state senators from Harris County and the Houston police chief wanted executions stopped for all county cases until authorities can review some 280 recently discovered boxes of evidence that had been mislabeled and improperly stored.

Attorneys had said the boxes could contain something relevant to Green's double murder case, but prosecutors said all evidence involving Green had been accounted for.

Last week, Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt said inmates whose convictions rested on evidence analyzed at the crime lab should not be executed until the work can be reviewed.

State Senators John Whitmire and Rodney Ellis and former governor Mark White, all Houston Democrats, have since asked Republican Governor Rick Perry to suspend executions in Harris County cases until the previously misplaced evidence is examined.

Perry refused to impose a blanket moratorium on Harris County executions and rejected a 30-day reprieve for Green.

"The main evidence leading to Green's conviction is his own confession to these brutal and senseless murders," the governor said.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles twice refused clemency for Green, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to stay the execution. The inmate's lawyers took his case to the US Supreme Court.

Green, 30, said he was high on marijuana and embalming fluid when he and a friend confronted Edward Haden, 72, and Helen O'Sullivan, 63, who were in Haden's car. When Green, brandishing a pistol, ordered Haden out of his Lincoln, the man tried to throw the car into reverse. Haden and O'Sullivan were shot.

Green's lawyers had questioned the reliability of ballistics evidence presented at his trial, but the Houston police lab controversy has centered on the reliability of its DNA testing procedures.

The lab's DNA section has been closed since a 2002 audit revealed possible contamination of evidence, inadequate training for analysts, and insufficient documentation.

No DNA evidence was used in Green's case. DNA retesting has been ordered in about 400 other cases, including 17 of death-row inmates who have not been assigned execution dates.

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