AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Texas plans on Wednesday to execute a man dubbed the “ice pick killer” for the weapon he used to murder a woman in 1979, but his lawyers have launched a last-minute appeal to spare his life, arguing his veins are too compromised for a lethal injection.
Serial murderer and rapist Danny Bible, 66, is set to die at the state’s death chamber in Huntsville at 6 p.m. (2300 GMT).
If the execution goes ahead, it would be the 12th this year in the United States and the seventh in 2018 in Texas, which has executed more inmates than any state since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Bible was convicted of the 1979 rape and murder of Inez Deaton, 20, who went to his home to use his phone and was stabbed 11 times with an ice pick. Her body dumped near a Houston bayou.
The crime went unsolved for nearly 20 years, until he confessed to the ice pick murder and other sexual assaults that included raping an 11-year-old girl in Montana.
In the meantime, Bible went on a rape and murder spree that included the 1983 killing of his sister-in-law, her infant son and her roommate, court records show.
After a plea deal for a 25-year sentence, he served eight years and was paroled. After his release, he raped a woman in Louisiana and was apprehended in Florida. Soon afterwards, he admitted to the ice pick murder.
Shortly after his death sentence was imposed in 2003, Bible was in a prison bus crash that fractured his spine and left him confined to a wheelchair. Over the years, Bible contracted coronary disease, diabetes and hypertension, his lawyers said.
“Under the current circumstances, attempts to place IVs in Mr. Bible would be futile and likely result in significant pain and suffering,” they wrote in a petition.
Last week, U.S. Judge Kenneth Hoyt rejected the petition, saying Bible waited too long to bring the claim. Bible’s lawyers appealed.
Two executions of inmates with compromised veins have been botched in less than a year, one in Ohio and another in Alabama. Their lawyers warned courts the men were too frail for lethal injections and their veins were not suitable.
In both cases, the states were unable to place intravenous lines and called off their executions while the inmates were on death chamber gurneys.
Texas prison officials have said they are confident they can carry out Bible’s lethal injection.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Richard Chang