Tommy Lynn Sells, 49, was pronounced dead at 6:27 p.m. CDT after
receiving a lethal dose of drugs at a state prison in Huntsville,
Texas, the state's Department of Criminal Justice said. He made no
Sells was the 15th person executed in the United States this year
and the fifth in Texas, the state that executes more people than any
other in the nation, according to the Death Penalty Information
Attorneys for Sells had challenged the state's lack of disclosure
about the supplier of the drugs to be used to kill him, winning a
temporary stay from a federal judge in Houston that was overturned
hours later by a federal appeals panel.
The appeals court said the case might be different if the state were
using a drug never before used or unheard of, whose effectiveness
was completely unknown, which was not the case.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied his last appeals about an hour before
After the stay was denied, attorneys for Sells said they hoped the
U.S. Supreme Court and Texas courts ultimately will find
transparency essential to protect the rights of prisoners.
"Without transparency about lethal injections, particularly the
source and purity of drugs to be used, it is impossible to ensure
that executions are humane and constitutional," attorneys Maurie
Levin and Jonathan Ross said in a statement.
Sells was convicted of stabbing a 13-year-old girl to death and
attempting to kill a 10-year-old girl on New Year's Eve of 1999 at
the Del Rio home of a man who owed him drug money, according to
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Sells went to the house to sexually assault the girl as pay-back for
the drug debt. He broke in, found her sleeping on a bunk bed and
began assaulting her. When she awoke, he stabbed her multiple times
and slashed her throat, killing her, court documents showed.
Sells then slit the throat of a 10-year-old girl who was sleeping in
the top bunk. After he fled, that girl walked to a nearby neighbor's
house to get help, court documents showed.
According to various media reports, Sells confessed to as many as 70
murders, starting when he was 16 years old.
Texas has executed 513 people since the U.S. Supreme Court
reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee;
editing by James Dalgleish and Eric Walsh)
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