Image: Eric Nenno
Texas death row inmate Eric Nenno was put to death in Huntsville, Tuesday. 
updated 10/28/2008 9:11:00 PM ET 2008-10-29T01:11:00

A former plumbing supply salesman was executed Tuesday for strangling and raping a 7-year-old girl whose body he hid in his attic.

Asked by the warden if he had a final statement, Eric Nenno replied, "No, warden."

Eight minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow, he was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m. CDT.

The girl's father and grandfather were among the witnesses, but Nenno did not acknowledge them. Nicole Benton's grandfather walked up to the window separating him from Nenno and then turned around and walked to the back of the chamber.

Nenno, 47, confessed to the abduction and attack on Nicole two days after she disappeared from her dad's birthday party almost 14 years ago. Then he led officers to her remains in his home in Hockley, about 35 miles northwest of Houston.

"Mr. Nenno was an evil person," said Joan Huffman, the Harris County assistant district attorney who prosecuted Nenno at his 1996 trial.

Another execution scheduled for Thursday
Nenno was the 13th Texas inmate executed this year and the fourth this month in the nation's most active death penalty state. Another execution is scheduled for Thursday.

Nenno's appeals were exhausted and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously against commuting his sentence to life.

Nenno lured the girl from his front yard into his house by telling her he needed to retrieve a guitar so he could join her father's band playing at the birthday celebration down the street. Once inside, he attacked her, strangled her to keep her quiet, then raped her at least twice after she was dead.

In his confession, Nenno said he'd been having sexual fantasies involving young girls for most of his adult life. In a recent interview from death row, Nenno said he was addicted to pornography and had been drinking the day of the slaying.

Nenno took responsibility for the girl's death. "I can't apologize enough," he said.

Nenno's attorneys said he was exposed to toxic chemicals during a four-year duty tour that left him brain-damaged.

Nenno said nothing could excuse his crime and that he was prepared to die.

"My salvation is secure," he told The Associated Press. "I know where I'm going when this is all over."

Asked where that would be, he replied: "Heaven."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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