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Texas man executed for tire-iron murder

Jan. 30, 2003 at 8:14 PM   |   Comments

HUNTSVILLE, Texas, Jan. 30 (UPI) -- A Texas killer was executed Thursday for beating a 39-year-old Amarillo man to death with a tire iron during a 1988 burglary.

Granville Riddle, 33, was pronounced dead 6:17 p.m. CST for murdering Ronnie Hood Bennett at his home in the Texas panhandle after a night of drinking.

In his final statement, partly in French, Riddle said he loved his family.

"I have no grudges against any one, or any of the things that have gone wrong," he said. "I would like to say to the world I have always been a nice person. I have never been mean-hearted or cruel. I wish everybody well."

On Oct. 9, 1988, Riddle broke into Bennett's home after a night of drinking with a friend. He struck Bennett in the head at least 15 times with a tire iron, according to court records.

Riddle later said he was defending himself from Bennett's homosexual advances. After he realized Bennett was dead, Riddle said he made it made it appear to be a burglary to cover up his actions.

Bennett's wallet and pickup truck were stolen and the truck was found burned the next day in a ravine outside of Borger in the panhandle.

Forensic evidence showed that Bennett's blood-alcohol content was .29 percent, which would have rendered him unconscious before the attack.

Riddle also made three escape attempts after his arrest, one of them successful. He escaped Feb. 24, 1989, from a substance abuse class at the county jail and was free for three days before he was captured north of Amarillo with a rifle and 100 rounds of ammunition he had stolen in another burglary.

Riddle was the third convicted killer executed this week in Texas and the sixth this year. The state has carried out 295 executions since the death penalty was restored in 1982. Two more executions are scheduled next week.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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