Texas resumes executions after five months following coronavirus shutdown

Rebecca Speare-Cole
·2-min read
Billy Joe Wardlow has been executed: AP
Billy Joe Wardlow has been executed: AP

Texas has resumed carrying out the death penalty after delaying executions for five months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Billy Joe Wardlow, 45, was given the lethal injection on Wednesday evening.

He was convicted of the killing of 82-year-old Carl Cole at his home in Cason, about 130 miles east of Dallas in the East Texas piney woods in June 1993.

The US Supreme Court declined to stop the execution at the state penitentiary in Huntsville.

Wardlow was the first inmate in Texas to receive a lethal injection since February 6.

He is also the second in the US since the nation began reopening following pandemic-related shutdowns.

Strapped to the death chamber gurney, Wardlow declined to make a final statement when asked by the warden.

A judge had moved Wardlow’s execution date from April 29 to Wednesday after Morris County District Attorney Steve Cowan requested the change citing the statewide disaster declaration due to the virus.

In Texas, the number of confirmed Covid-19 virus cases and hospitalisations have risen in recent weeks.

But state prison officials say safety measures they have put in place will help executions to proceed.

Texas is the busiest death penalty state in the US.

Execution witnesses were given masks and gloves, all prison officers and officials wore masks but Wardlow did not have one.

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