Death Row Killer Says He Feels Lethal Injection 'Burning' In Final Words
Larry Swearingen, 48, maintained he was innocent until the very end of his life. He said he could feel and hear the injection used to kill him.
Before his execution, he said: "Lord forgive them. They don't know what they are doing."
As the lethal dose of the drug pentobarbital began to circulate in his system, he said he could 'hear it' going into a vein in his arm. He then said he could taste it.
His final words were: "It's actually burning in my right arm. I don't feel anything in the left arm."
He was pronounced dead at 6.47pm local time on Wednesday (21 August) in the Texas state penitentiary in Huntsville.
Swearingen was convicted and sentenced to death in 2000 for the abduction, rape and murder of 19-year-old Melissa Trotter.
Trotter had disappeared on 8 December 1998, but her body was discovered 25 days later in woods in the Sam Houston National Forest, around 30 miles north of where she went missing.
She was found with a piece of pantyhose around her neck.
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Swearingen's trial was based largely on witness testimony, phone records and evidence found in his house and truck which prosecutors argued linked him to Melissa's death - including the other half of pantyhose, which was said to belong to Swearingen's wife.
His lawyers pointed out both during the trial and through a series of appeals that DNA evidence under Trotter's fingernails came from another man. This was disputed, with prosecutors suggesting that the evidence could have been contaminated.
Experts also testified that Trotter's body at the time showed she must have died when Swearingen was already in custody on other charges.
He is the fourth inmate to have been executed in the state of Texas this year.
In a final statement released to The Washington Post, Swearingen said: "Today the State of Texas murdered an innocent man.
"Many people participated in my demise."
He said he had made 'a lot of stupid mistakes' as a youth which put himself in the 'perfect position to be framed for murder,' and wanted to be the 'catalyst to change the insane legal system of Texas'.
He added "I am now one of God's sacrificial lambs.
"And hopefully people will use my example to help keep others from experiencing this dreadful and wrongful persecution."
Featured Image Credit: PA