Proclaiming his innocence, a former county jail officer was executed Thursday for raping and smothering his girlfriend's 3-year-old son.

William Wyatt Jr., 41, was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m.

In a brief final statement, Wyatt thanked relatives for their support and addressed his victim's father and grandmother, who watched through a window a few feet from him.

"I did not murder your son," Wyatt said. He then asked for forgiveness.

Wyatt said he may have been irresponsible in leaving Damien Willis alone to drown in the bathtub of his Texarkana home 9 1/2 years ago, but didn't kill the toddler.

Evidence, however, showed the boy did not drown and Wyatt's confession after the child's 1997 death tied him to the slaying.

Wyatt contended his statements to police were coerced. His appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles were rejected.

Wyatt, who worked as a jailer in Bowie County, was the 17th prisoner put to death this year in Texas, the nation's most active capital punishment state.