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Former bartender executed for 1985 murder

HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- A 39-year-old man convicted in the 1985 slaying of the female owner of a lounge where he had once worked as a bartender was executed early Friday morning, the second convicted killer to die in Texas this week.

Johnny James was pronounced dead at 12:17 a.m. CDT after declining to make a final statement before officials administered a lethal injection.

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James' execution came just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington rejected late Thursday evening his 11th-hour request for a stay of execution. At the same time the high court, without comment, also declined to hear an appeal filed by James, who had been on the Texas death row in Huntsville since July 1986.

The Arkansas native was convicted in the October 1985 abduction and shooting of 47-year-old Barbara Harrington Mayfield,owner of the lounge where James once tended bar.

The charges said the woman was shot twice in the head with a .38- caliber pistol after being forced to drive James around three southeast Texas counties while he raped a 23-year-old convenience store clerk from Winnie, Texas. He had earlier kidnapped the clerk after robbing her of $300.

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The clerk was shot three times in the head but survived to identify James. Both women were found lying on a road in Jefferson County.

In a statement issued before the execution, James' lawyer, Mandy Welch, did not deny that James killed Mayfield but said the action was 'totally out of character' and that James suffered 'chronic alcoholism.'

'The jury was not able to consider fully the fact that Mr. James had not previously committed any previous violent offense and that he was profoundly remorseful for his crime,' Welch said.

James' execution came three days after the worst mass murder in Houston's history, Richard Wilkerson, 29, was executed by lethal injection.

Half of the 14 executions held this year in Texas have occurred in the past six weeks. A total of 68 people have been executed since capital punishment was reinstated in Texas in 1982.

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