updated 1/6/2004 10:48:48 PM ET 2004-01-07T03:48:48

A mentally ill man whose lawyers had argued the state couldn’t legally execute him was put to death Tuesday night for the 1979 murder of a grocer who befriended him.

Charles Singleton, 44, was pronounced dead after receiving an injection of drugs in what was scheduled to be a back-to-back, double execution until a federal judge ruled that a second Arkansas inmate could appeal.

"I was going to speak but I wrote it down,” Singleton said when asked for his last words. “I’ll leave it up to the warden.”

Prison officials later provided a copy of Singleton’s rambling statement.

“The blind think I’m playing a game. They deny me, refusing me existence. But everybody takes the place of another. You have taught me what you want done — and I will not let you down. God bless you,” it read in part.

The second inmate, Karl Roberts, who was convicted of the rape and murder of his 12-year-old niece in 1999, entered an appeal in the final hours, and a federal judge stayed his execution.

The Arkansas attorney general’s immediate appeals of the stay to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and then to the U.S. Supreme Court were denied.

Back-to-back executions would have been Arkansas’ fifth multiple-execution day in 10 years. The state, which previously conducted two triple executions and two double executions, says the policy is designed to reduce stress on its prison staff.

In Singleton’s case, lawyers had argued he should not be forced to take anti-psychotic medication if drug-induced sanity made him eligible for execution.

The Supreme Court has said it is unconstitutional to execute the mentally ill if they don’t understand why they are to die. But the high court let stand a lower court’s ruling that said the forced medication was appropriate treatment for Singleton’s schizophrenia.

In Texas, a man described by authorities as a serial rapist was put to death Tuesday night for the rape and murder of a 21-year-old woman at her College Station apartment 3½ years ago.

Ynobe Matthews, of Dallas, declined to make a statement before receiving the injection. Matthews, 27, had waived appeals.

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