COLUMBIA, S.C. – A South Carolina man convicted of torturing and killing a woman 16 years ago has been executed by lethal injection.
Joseph M.L. Gardner was pronounced dead at 6:15 p.m. Friday in the state's death chamber in Columbia. He did not make a final statement, but did mouth the words "Thank you. I'm OK," to a relative who witnessed his death.
Gardner was convicted in the 1992 kidnapping, rape and slaying of 25-year-old Melissa "Missi" McLauchlin.
Police said Gardner and his co-defendants decided to kill a white woman as retribution for slavery. But the victim's family and Gardner's attorneys say they don't think the killing had anything to do with racial revenge.
Gardner is the 40th person executed in South Carolina since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.