HUNTSVILLE, Texas – A Texas prisoner was executed Thursday evening for killing a San Antonio woman after breaking into her apartment more than 13 years ago.
TaiChin Preyor, 46, was put to death after his attorneys failed to convince courts that he had deficient legal help during earlier stages of his appeals and that he deserved a reprieve so his case could be reviewed more fairly.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected his final appeal about 2 ½ hours after the six-hour execution window opened at 6 p.m. CDT. Once the justices ruled, Preyor was taken to the death chamber in Huntsville, Texas, for lethal injection. Preyor's execution was Texas' fifth this year and the 16th nationally.
Asked by the prison warden if he had a final statement, Preyor replied, "First and foremost, I'd like to say: Justice has never advanced by taking a human life," and attributed the statement to Coretta Scott King. Then he said that he would love his wife and children "forever and always."
"That's it," Preyor said.
As the lethal dose of pentobarbital began taking effect, he took several deep breaths, then began snoring, each sound decreasing in volume. Within a minute, all movement stopped.
He was pronounced dead 19 minutes later at 9:22 p.m.
Preyor selected no friends or relatives to witness his punishment. No one related to the victim in his case attended.
Preyor was convicted in the February 2004 slaying of 24-year-old Jami Tackett, who court records identified as Preyor's drug supplier. She was stabbed and her throat was cut.
Preyor's lawyers earlier argued unsuccessfully in the Texas courts and lower federal courts that an inexperienced California attorney who handled federal appeals in his case from 2011 to 2014 was "utterly unqualified." They said she employed a disbarred lawyer for guidance, perpetrating a fraud on the courts.
State attorneys said the late appeals to reopen his case were legally improper and that it was Preyor's decision to stay with the inexperienced lawyer who didn't appear to miss any filing deadlines and filed appropriate pleadings. The disbarred lawyer wasn't precluded from assisting Preyor's attorney, state lawyers said.
Testimony showed that in the early hours of Feb. 26, 2004, Preyor, dressed in black and wearing a hood and gloves, kicked in the door of a San Antonio apartment where Tackett lived and kept drugs in a safe.
Tackett recognized Preyor when he barged into a bedroom, calling him by his nickname "Box." He attacked her boyfriend, who escaped to a neighbor's apartment and called for help. Evidence showed Preyor, a drug seller and user since adolescence, then stabbed Tackett and cut her throat.
He fled the apartment but returned because he lost his car keys in the struggle. By the time he tried to flee a second time, police had arrived and used pepper spray to subdue him. He was covered with the blood of his victims.
At least six other Texas prisoners are scheduled to be executed in the next several months.