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Texas prepares to execute 500th inmate

Published: Tue, June 25, 2013 @ 2:18 p.m.

Texas prepares to execute 500th inmate

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- Jim Willett remembers the night of Dec. 6, 1982, when he was assigned to guard a mortuary van that had arrived at the death house at the Huntsville prison.

“I remember thinking: We’re really going to do this. This is really going to happen,” says Willett, who was a captain for the Texas Department of Corrections.

When the van pulled away early the next morning, it carried to a nearby funeral home the body of convicted killer Charlie Brooks, who had just become the first Texas prisoner executed since a Supreme Court ruling six years earlier allowed the death penalty to resume in the United States.

What was unusual then has become rote. On Wednesday, barring a reprieve, Kimberly McCarthy will become the 500th convicted killer in Texas to receive a lethal injection.

The number far outpaces the execution total in any other state. But it also reflects the reality of capital punishment in the United States today: While some states have halted the practice in recent years because of concern about wrongful convictions, executions continue at a steady pace in many others.

The death penalty is on the books in 32 states. On average, Texas executes an inmate about every three weeks.

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