COLUMBIA, South Carolina – A South Carolina man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend's parents 14 years ago was executed in the state's electric chair after a last-ditch effort to halt the sentence was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court.
James Earl Reed was pronounced dead at 11:27 p.m. Friday in the state's death chamber in Columbia. He did not issue a final statement.
The execution, first scheduled for 6 p.m., had been put on hold as defense attorneys successfully obtained a stay from a federal judge, only to see it vacated by the 4th U.S. Circit Court of Appeals. Their attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to block the execution was subsequently denied.
Reed, 49, was the first person executed by electric chair in the U.S. in nearly a year and South Carolina's first since 2004. He had been on death row since 1996, after being convicted of murdering Joseph and Barbara Lafayette in their Charleston County home two years earlier. Prosecutors said he was looking for his ex-girlfriend.
In South Carolina, anyone sentenced to death may choose the electric chair or lethal injection. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, eight other states electrocute inmates.
During his trial, Reed fired his attorney and represented himself, denying the killings despite a confession and arguing that no physical evidence placed him at the scene. Jurors found him guilty and decided he should die.
In the request for the stay that was granted Friday, the defense attorneys cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision made the day before regarding defendants' rights to represent themselves. The high court on Thursday said a defendant can be judged competent to stand trial, yet incapable of acting as his own lawyer.