Death row inmate's final words before lethal injection revealed
A death row inmate has been executed in Texas 30 years after he was sentenced to death for killing a policeman.
Robert Mitchell Jennings was pronounced dead at 6.33pm local time after being taken from his cell at 6.04pm, becoming the first person to be put to death in the US in 2019.
Before his lethal injection at a prison in Huntsville, the 61-year-old is said to have advised those around him to "enjoy life's moments, because we may never get them back."
His last words were: "To my friends and family, it was a nice journey. To the family of the police officer, I hope this finds you peace and be well and stay safe. Enjoy life's moments because we may never get them back."
Jennings was convicted of murdering Houston Police Department Vice Officer Elston Howard in July 1988 in Houston, Texas.
According to Houston Chronicle and prison records, the 24-year-old was in the bookstore serving an arrest warrant on a clerk for showing films without a license when Jennings entered, having just robbed a neighbouring adult movie theatre.
He shot him three times and left the officer collapsed on the floor, to eventually die of his wounds.
A co-defendant, Robert Harvell, was driving the getaway car, but ordered Jennings out of the vehicle when he found out that he had shot a "security guard." When Jennings refused, Harvell shot him in the hand, official records state.
Police later arrested Jennings at a hospital where he sought treatment for his wound and Harvell was arrested at his mother's house.
Jennings, a high school drop-out, was given the death penalty and his co-defendant was given a 55-year sentence for his role in the crime.
Before Jennings' death, The Forgiveness Foundation - "a non-profit prison ministry devoted to bringing the word of God to death-row inmates and internet recipients" - pleaded for clemency for him, arguing that he should be spared given his tragic past.
According to their website, the 61-year-old's mother became pregnant with him after being raped, and "frequently blamed Robert for her failing to complete her education."
In addition, he "changed places of residence frequently as a child and had no lasting, positive adult influence in his life."
After entering the juvenile justice system at the age of 10, he eventually dropped out of school in the ninth grade when he began using drugs.
He served 10 years in prison for aggravated robbery and burglary with intent to commit theft and was on parole for this crime when he fatally shot Howard.
While in prison, he obtained his GED and completed more than forty hours of college credit.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals allegedly rejected two requests to halt his execution.