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Texas killer executed

By RICHARD LUNA

HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- Johnny Ray Anderson, a condemned killer with an IQ of about 70 who was convicted of murdering his brother-in-law in an insurance scam, was executed early Thursday by injection.

Anderson, 30, was led into the execution chamber at Huntsville's state prison shortly before midnight and pronounced dead by prison doctors at 12:30 a.m. CDT, prison officials said.

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The U.S. Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals both refused Wednesday to halt Anderson's execution.

'(We appealed) on the grounds he is a poor, dumb, son of a bitch who should never have been given the death penalty,' said Louis Dugas, Anderson's attorney.

In Potosi, Mo., meanwhile, convicted killer Leonard Laws was executed early Thursday. The inmate spent his last hours playing Nintendo computer games in his cell and ate a hearty breakfast before receiving a lethal injection.

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The executions of Laws and Anderson were the 126th and 127th in the United States since 1976, when the Supreme Court lifted its ban on capital punishment.

Anderson, was the 35th person put to death in Texas since the state resumed executions in 1982.

The state appeals court rejected, 7-2, claims that Anderson's original attorney was ineffective, and that the trial jury should have been allowed to consider his low intelligence before deciding whether to sentence him to death or life in prison.

Anderson became upset when told the state appeals court had refused to issue a stay, said prison system spokesman Charles Brown.

'The overall mood is that he appears calm,' Brown said. 'But when they told him of the court decision, he appeared somewhat distressed.'

The same claims were rejected Tuesday by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which said evidence indicated only that 'at the time of his crime, he (Anderson) was poorly educated, in his early 20s, and of dull normal intelligence.'

A psychiatrist earlier testified Anderson had an IQ of about 70.

In an ironic twist, Anderson asked that his mother and sister -- his onetime co-defendants in the case -- be among the personal witnesses to his execution. His mother, Rowena Anderson, and sister, Laura Murphy, both were accused in the plot to kill Ronald Gene Goode for $67,000 in insurance money.

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Goode, 22, a soft-drink salesman from Kountze, was shot to death in a wooded area north of Beaumont Oct. 1, 1981.

Mrs. Anderson was charged with capital murder but was acquitted. Murphy, Goode's wife when he was killed, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison. Her conviction was overturned on appeal in 1987, and she pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Murphy was paroled from the Texas prison system last December. Prison officials said Wednesday she would be prohibited from witnessing the execution because of her status as a parolee.

Mrs. Anderson and Murphy's husband, Charles, visited Anderson Wednesday afternoon, but it was not known if they would return to witness his death by injection. Anderson also asked that his father, Thomas, serve as a witness.

Anderson was moved from death row shortly after 9 a.m. to the nearby prison unit housing the death chamber. For a final meal, he requested three hamburgers, french fries, iced tea and chocolate ice cream with nuts.

Anderson, the gunman in the Goode slaying, was the only one of four people originally accused in the scheme to remain in prison.

In addition to his mother and sister, Anderson's former neighbor, Delvin Johnson of Vidor, was charged in the slaying. He testified for the state, pleaded guilty to murder and received a 50-year sentence. Johnson served 8 years before being released.

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Anderson also was accused in the 1984 stabbing of a death row inmate with whom he had argued. The inmate, Kenneth Dunn, was stabbed seven times. He was treated at the prison hospital and released.

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