The 20th Execution of 2017
Robert Lynn Pruett was executed in Texas on October 12, 2017. He was the 1,462nd person executed in the United States since 1976, the 544th person executed in Texas, and the 1,287th person executed by lethal injection.
According to The Marshall Project, Pruett was serving a 99-year sentence for a murder in Harris County, Texas, when he fatally stabbed Correctional Officer Daniel Nagle at the McConnell Unit in Beeville, Texas.
The incident began when a correctional officer took Pruett to get new shoes, causing him to miss the distribution of lunches. Instead of his normal meal, Pruett was given a sack lunch, which he took to the prison recreation area, in violation of unit rules. Nagle told Pruett he would have to eat his lunch before entering the recreation area and wrote up a disciplinary complaint.
Later that afternoon, Pruett stabbed Nagle eight times with an improvised knife. The weapon was found beside Nagle's body, along with the disciplinary complaint, which had been torn into several pieces. An autopsy report indicated Nagle had died of a heart attack after the stabbing. Multiple inmates testified at trial that they had witnessed the attack, describing Pruett as excited and covered in blood afterwards. Others testified that Pruett had vowed to kill Nagle. Pruett claimed Nagle had been killed by prison gang members to prevent him from exposing prison corruption. At trial, his attorneys argued that the Pruett's fingerprints were not found on the weapon, nor was the victim's blood found on the prisoner.
On appeal, Pruett contended he had suffered ineffective counsel, because his lawyer failed to develop mitigating factors. In rejecting the assertion, courts noted that Pruett failed to identify the factors he desired to be developed. In April 2015, Pruett's scheduled execution was halted to allow for DNA testing of the weapon in the hope that another individual's DNA would be revealed. The attempt was not successful.
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