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Texas Executes Convicted Killer in First U.S. Execution of 2017

by Phil Helsel and Tracy Connor /  / Updated 
Image: Christopher Wilkins
Death row inmate Christopher WilkinsTexas Dept. of Criminal Justice via AP

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A Texas man convicted of killing two men in 2005 was executed Wednesday. His death was the first U.S. execution carried out in 2017.

Christopher Wilkins, 48, was convicted of fatally shooting Willie Freeman, 40, and Mike Silva, 33, because he was angry that he was tricked into paying $20 for a rock disguised as a chuck of crack cocaine.

Image: Christopher Wilkins
Death row inmate Christopher WilkinsTexas Dept. of Criminal Justice via AP

Wilkins was declared dead at 6:29 p.m. local time. (7:29 p.m. ET), Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said. Wilkins did not make a last statement.

The Supreme Court earlier Wednesday refused to block his execution. Wilkins argued that his lawyers did a bad job of defending him against charges.

Wilkins admitted to the 2005 double slaying — and claimed he had committed another murder and other crimes — during the sentencing phase of his trial.

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"I tend to want to take the easy way out," the ex-con truck driver told the court. "I make bad decisions. I know they're bad decisions when I'm making them. I make them anyway."

In his appeals, Wilkins has argued that his attorney ignored his wish to plead guilty and did not put on a vigorous defense and that an appellate lawyer had a huge conflict of interest, having already accepted a job with the prosecutor's office.

Executions hit a 30-year low in the United States last year, in part because some states were unable to obtain the needed drugs or put lethal injections on hold after executions that did not go as planned.

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