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Texas executes convicted killer despite plea for mercy by victim's family

Christopher Young, 34, is the 13th U.S. inmate to be put to death this year and the eighth in Texas.
by Associated Press /  / Updated 

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HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A Texas prisoner was executed Tuesday evening for the fatal shooting of a San Antonio convenience store owner despite pleas from some of the victim's family to spare his life.

Christopher Young, 34, was put to death by lethal injection after courts turned down appeals that the state parole board improperly rejected his clemency request because he was black.

Young never denied the slaying, which was recorded on a store surveillance camera, but he insisted that he was drunk and didn't intend to kill Hasmukh "Hash" Patel, 53, during an attempted robbery after drinking nearly two dozen beers and then doing cocaine on Nov. 21, 2004.

Image: Christopher Young
Christopher Young in an undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on Monday.Texas Department of Criminal Justice / Reuters

Mitesh Patel, the victim's son, said he supported Young's clemency bid because "nothing positive comes from his execution" and because carrying out the punishment would leave Young's three teenage daughters without a father.

Patel met privately with Young in prison on Monday.

"I don't agree with the state's choice to execute him," he told the San Antonio Express-News after the meeting.

Asked by the warden Tuesday whether he had a final statement, Young said he wanted to make sure that his victim's family knew he loved them "like they love me."

"Make sure the kids in the world know I'm being executed and those kids I've been mentoring keep this fight going," he added.

As the lethal dose of the sedative pentobarbital began taking effect, he twice used an obscenity to say he could taste it and that it was burning.

As he slipped into unconsciousness, he said something unintelligible and began taking shallow breaths. He stopped moving within about 30 seconds and was pronounced dead at 6:38 p.m. (7:38 p.m. ET).

Young became the 13th prisoner put to death in the United States this year and the eighth in Texas, one more than all of 2017 in the nation's busiest capital punishment state. At least seven other Texas inmates have execution dates in the coming months.

Young's attorneys sued the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles after the panel last week rejected a clemency plea at which they argued that Young was "no longer the young man he was when he arrived" on death row, that he was "truly remorseful" and that Patel's son didn't want the execution to take place.

In a federal civil rights suit, Young's attorneys argued that a white Texas inmate, Thomas Whitaker, received a rare commutation earlier this year as his execution was imminent for the slaying of his mother and his brother.

Young was black, and race improperly "appears to be the driving force in this case," one of the lawyers, David Dow, said in the appeal.

A federal judge in Houston dismissed the lawsuit and refused to stop the execution. Hours later on Tuesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned down an appeal of that ruling. Young's attorneys didn't take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Young and his attorneys argued that he was no longer a member of the Bloods street gang, that he had matured in prison and that he hoped to show others "look where you can end up."

"I didn't know about death row," Young told The Associated Press recently from prison. "It needs to be talked about. You've got a whole new generation. You've got to stop this, not just executions but the crimes.

"Nobody's talking to these kids," he said. "I can't bring Hash back, but I can do something to make sure there's no more Hashes."

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