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Ohio executes Christmas holiday killer

A man who went on a 1992 Christmas holiday killing spree in Ohio that left six people dead was executed Tuesday, the 1,000th execution by lethal injection in the U.S. since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

Marvallous Keene is 1,000th inmate killed by lethal injection since 1976

A man who went on a 1992 Christmas holiday killing spree in Ohio that left six people dead, including an 18-year-old mother gunned down at a pay phone, was executed Tuesday, the 1,000th execution by lethal injection in the U.S. since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

Marvallous Keene, 36, who was convicted of five murders, chose not to file a late appeal over his death sentence.

He died by lethal injection at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville — seven days after Ohio's previous execution. It was the fastest turnaround since the state executed two inmates in six days in 2004.

The European Union presidency released a statement noting the 1,000th lethal-injection execution and calling on the U.S. to halt executions, pending the abolition of the death penalty.

"The European Union is opposed to the use of capital punishment in all cases and under all circumstances," the statement said. "We believe that the abolition of the death penalty is essential to protect human dignity, and to the progressive development of human rights."

The death penalty is abolished in the European Union, and the United Nations General Assembly has called upon all countries that use it to stop. Canada abolished the practice in 1976, after executing its last prisoners in 1962.

Victims included convenience store clerk

Keene and three accomplices went on a three-day murder and robbery rampage in Dayton, Ohio, that began on Christmas Eve 1992.

Victims included Sarah Abraham, 38, a convenience store clerk shot in the head after handing over $30 from a cash register, and Marvin Washington and Wendy Cottrill, two teenagers who Keene feared would tell police about his crimes.

Cottrill's mother, Donna Cottrill, stood when Keene entered the death chamber, but he didn't acknowledge her or look directly at anyone as he lay on the gurney.

When the prison warden asked Keene whether he wanted to make a final statement, Keene replied, "No, I have no words."

Seven members of the victims' families who witnessed the execution declined to speak to reporters afterward, as did Keene's attorneys.

Did not fight execution

According to the non-profit Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., Keene's was the 1,171st execution — and the 1,000th by lethal injection — since the U.S. reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Keene did not fight his execution. At a June 17 clemency hearing, he directed his attorneys not to present evidence on his behalf, saying he didn't want to cause additional pain to his family or the victims' families.

Defence attorneys have said Keene, who was 19 at the time of the slayings, was despondent over the death of his brother, shot and killed a year earlier. At his trial, Keene also told a three-judge panel that a falling-out with his father contributed to his troubled emotional state.

Prosecutors described Keene as the ringleader of a group that called itself the Downtown Posse. The killings began with 34-year-old Joseph Wilkerson. Keene and his accomplices arrived at Wilkerson's home under the pretext of wanting to participate in an orgy, prosecutors said. They tied Wilkerson to his bed and ransacked the house, and when Keene found a .32-calibre handgun in the garage, he returned to the bedroom and shot Wilkerson twice.

Later Christmas Eve, Keene and accomplice DeMarcus Smith approached 18-year-old Danita Gullette at a pay phone, took her jacket and shoes and fatally shot her, prosecutors said. Gullette was the mother of a 2-year-old girl.

Washington, 18, and Cottrill, 16, were acquaintances who sometimes stayed at Keene's apartment and observed Keene returning with stolen items, prosecutors said. They were shot and killed behind a gravel pit.

Keene's accomplices are serving life sentences.

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