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A 23-year-old man ordered to die for raping and...

By MARY SCHLANGENSTEIN

HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- A 23-year-old man ordered to die for raping and mutilating a housewife visited with his brothers and parents Wednesday and awaited word on whether the Supreme Court would stop his execution before dawn Thursday.

Jay Kelly Pinkerton was in a 'real calm, good mood' when he was moved from death row to a holding cell near the chamber where he is to die by injection sometime after 1 a.m. EDT.

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'He stayed up almost all night working on legal papers for a possible stay,' said Texas Department of Corrections spokesman Charles Brown.

If he is put to death, Pinkerton would be the youngest person executed in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Pinkerton awaited word on a stay of execution request pending before the high court since Tuesday. His lawyers also sought a stay from the state parole board and Gov. Mark White.

Pinkerton visited with his parents Wednesday, handing them a personally written appeal that was forwarded to U.S. District Judge Hayden Head in Corpus Christi, Texas. He also visited with his brothers and his sisters-in-law for more than an hour Wednesday night.

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While Pinkerton had asked his parents to witness his death, prison officials said there were no personal witnesses expected.

After a final meal of crackers, fish patties, tartar sauce, french fries, sliced onions and coffee, Pinkerton spent the evening playing dominoes with the prison chaplin.

Pinkerton was ordered to die for the 1979 murder of Sarah Donn Lawrence, 30, in her home in Amarillo, Texas. The woman, who was sexually mutilated and abused both before and after she died, was stabbed more than 30 times with a Bowie knife. She was killed as her children slept in a nearby room.

Pinkerton's attorneys asked the Supreme Court to block his execution on the grounds of improper use of a surprise witness by prosecutors and ineffective legal assistance during earlier appeals.

The request to the Supreme Court was filed after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans rejected a similar appeal, ruling Pinkerton's claims were without merit.

Pinkerton also was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in the 1980 slaying of Sherry Lynn Welch, 25, who was stabbed 30 times and raped at a closed Amarillo furniture store. Pinkerton was charged in the slaying after a doctor was able to link him to teeth marks found on the woman's body.

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The former packing plant worker has maintained he is innocent of both slayings. But a former cellmate testified in earlier hearings that Pinkerton bragged often about killing Lawrence and mutilating her body.

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