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'Texas Seven' Prison Escapee Executed for Officer's Death

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A three-time convicted robber who helped engineer the biggest prison break in Texas history was executed Wednesday evening for killing a suburban Dallas police officer while the notorious gang was on the run.

Donald Newbury, 52, became the third member of the group known as the "Texas 7" executed for the fatal shooting of 29-year-old Aubrey Hawkins, an Irving officer who interrupted the fugitives' robbery of a sporting goods store on Christmas Eve in 2000. The slaying occurred 11 days after the convicts escaped. The gang was captured a month later in Colorado.

Asked to make a final statement, he mumbled: "I would. That each new indignity defeats only the body. Pampering the spirit with obscure merit. I love you all. That's it."

As the lethal dose of pentobarbital took effect, he closed his eyes, then took a deep breath and began snoring. After about a dozen snores, each a bit quieter, he stopped all movement. He was pronounced dead 11 minutes later, at 6:25 p.m.

Newbury lost a last-day appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday. His attorneys argued previous lawyers were deficient and courts refused money for a defense expert that could have shown childhood abuse contributed to his violent behavior.

Evidence shows the gang led by George Rivas overpowered workers at a prison unit on Dec. 13, 2000, and escaped with weapons and a truck. Eleven days after the breakout, Hawkins responded to a report of suspicious activity. He was shot 11 times and killed. The gang was apprehended a month later. One of the gang killed himself rather than surrender. Rivas was put to death three years ago, and another member of the gang was executed in 2008. Three others remain on death row.

— The Associated Press

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