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After A Long Lull, Texas Set To Execute Barney Ronald Fuller Jr.

This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows death row inmate Barney Fuller.
This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows death row inmate Barney Fuller.

More than five months after its last execution, Texas is set to execute Barney Ronald Fuller Jr., who was convicted of killing two of his neighbors.

As we've reported, the country as a whole has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of convicts put to death. As the Texas Tribune reports, this trend seems to also be affecting Texas, a leader in executions.

If Fuller's execution is carried out tonight as planned, reports the Tribune, it will "break the longest gap between executions in Texas since 2008." The site adds:

"Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, Texas has killed nearly five times as many people as the state with the second-most executions, Oklahoma, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

"The recent bout of stays is 'unusual,' said Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Elsa Alcala, who is well known for writing opinions criticizing the death penalty and how it is applied in Texas. Every stay the court issues is specific to its case, she said, but the surge in stays might indicate that defense lawyers have gotten better at presenting the right legal arguments to the court."

The AP reports that last year, Fuller waived his appeals in order to speed up his death sentence.

The wire service adds:

"'I do not want to go on living in this hellhole,' he wrote to attorney Jason Cassel.

"Fuller had no late change of heart, Cassel said Tuesday.

"A federal judge in June ruled Fuller competent to drop his appeals. He had testified at a hearing that he was 'ready to move on.'"

According to a database maintained by the Death Penalty Information Center, 15 convicts have been put to death in 2016 and eight are scheduled to be executed during the remainder of the year.

That means the total from 2016 is on track to be lower than 2015. That continues a downward trend that began since the number of people executed peaked in 1999.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.