Death row inmate dies tonight

UNLESS a last-ditch appeal wins a stay of execution, Suffolk-born John Elliott will tonight face the sentence which has hung over him for 16 years.Elliott, known to his family as "Jackie", has requested a last meal of Earl Grey tea and biscuits before he dies by lethal injection.

UNLESS a last-ditch appeal wins a stay of execution, Suffolk-born John Elliott will tonight face the sentence which has hung over him for 16 years.

Elliott, known to his family as "Jackie", has requested a last meal of Earl Grey tea and biscuits before he dies by lethal injection.

He will be moved from the Polunsky Unit at Livingston, Texas, to the Walls Unit at Huntsville during the day ready for his execution, which is scheduled to take place at 6pm US time, midnight GMT.

It will be watched by a handful of journalists, his sister, and relatives of 18-year-old Joyce Munguia, who he was convicted of raping and murdering in 1987.


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Vigils will be held outside the prison by supporters of the Citizens' United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and at Westminster Abbey in London by human rights organisations Amnesty International UK and Reprieve UK.

The London vigil will take place from 5pm to midnight and campaigners will hold 16 lanterns to mark the 16 years that Elliot has been on death row.

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Although time is running supporters of Elliott, 42, who was born in Felixstowe and lived at the resort with his parents Robert – who was stationed at USAF Bentwaters air base – and Dorothy, until he was four, were still hopeful.

Andie Lambe, of Reprieve, said: "We are still hopeful that a stay can be granted but as the time gets closer to the execution it becomes more and more difficult.

"We believe it is right that every bit of evidence should be heard before a death sentence should be passed and that this case deserves that – there is new evidence which needs to be examined."

The campaigners were dealt a major blow last night when a US court rejected requests by defence lawyers to allow crucial DNA testing.

They believe the testing of blood spattered on another suspect's shoes using forensic techniques which were not available in 1987 could prove Elliott's innocence or at least cast "serious doubt" on whether he was the murderer.

The Texas Pardons and Parole Board is still to make its recommendation on clemency – expected about 6pm today – and lawyers have the opportunity to make further appeals throughout today, right up to the US Supreme Court.

Elliott's UK lawyer, Hugh Southey, said: "Whether you are in favour or against the death penalty, any rational person would oppose the execution of any individual while such important questions remain unanswered."

"We have spoken to every one of the original jurors from Jackie's trial and every one of them has said explicitly that they want DNA testing in this case before the sentence is carried out.

"This case will go down to the final wire, but there are still good grounds for optmism."

WEBLINK: www.jackelliot.org

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IF John "Jackie" Elliott is executed tonight, he will be the seventh person to have been killed by the state in Texas this year.

There are currently 450 prisoners waiting on death row in Texas – some of them for more than 20 years.

Before the lethal injection, he will be strapped onto a gurney with needles for injection set up attached to both his arms.

He will be asked whether he has any final words, and then the executioner will start the machine.

Three different chemicals will flow into his body – a very high dose of sodium thiopental, which sends the condemned into a coma; pancuronium bromide, a muscle relaxant, which causes the collapse of the diaphragm and lungs; and potassium chloride to stop the heart beat.

The whole process takes about seven minutes, and the cost of the drugs is around £52.

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