Richard Masterson: First Execution In Texas After Legal Wrangling Over Lethal Injection Drugs

Richard Masterson was the first man executed by Texas since a controversial court ruling last year over lethal injection drug suppliers. Masterson, 43, was sentenced to death for killing a Texas man put to death Wednesday for a killing Darin Shane Honeycutt 15 years ago.

The convicted killer reportedly began snoring almost immediately after being given pentobarbital, and was pronounced dead just minutes later, the Houston Chronicle reports. Hours before the execution was scheduled to take place, the court rejected a last ditch appeal objecting to a state law which allows the name of the company supplying the lethal injection to remain “secret.”

The first Texas execution in 2016 occurred on Wednesday evening. Richard Masterson was pronounced dead at 6:53 p.m. Before the pentobarbital was administered, the killer stated that he was going to a “better place,” and has made peace with the pending execution.

“I’m all right with this. Sometimes you have to live and die by the choices you make. I made mine and I’m paying for it,” Masterson said before the death sentence was carried out.

After stating his last words, Richard Masterson “mouthed a kiss” to friends and relatives in the execution gallery and professed his love for them, NBC reports. None of Honeycutt’s relatives or friends attended the execution. He snored about a dozen or so times before being pronounced dead, and the curtains drawn so the body could be removed from the gurney.

In early 2001, Masterson was granted multiple U.S. Supreme Court appeals to his murder conviction. He then claimed that the strangulation death of Darin Shane Honeycutt was only accidental. The 35-year-old man cross-dressed as a woman and performed on stage using the name Brandi Houston. According to Masterson, he and Honeycutt met at a bar and then went together to the victim’s apartment. The chokehold, which resulted in the strangulation of Darin, was part of a sex act gone wrong, the convict claimed.

According to court documents filed in 2012, Masterson confessed to strangling Honeycutt. A letter written to current Texas governor and then state attorney general, Greg Abbott, the inmate said that he meant to kill the victim saying the death “was no accident.”

Attempts to thwart the carrying out of the death penalty sentence in the day leading up to the execution were quickly rejected. Texas is known to be the “busiest” state when it comes to carrying out executions. In 2015, the Lone Star State used lethal injection to put 13 convicted killers to death. During the same year, a total of 28 executions were conducted throughout the United States.

During Masterson’s trial, evidence was presented detailing how the accused stole the victim’s car and dumped the vehicle in Georgia. About a week after the murder, Masterson, with another stolen car in his possession, was arrested in Florida. The Tampa car owner testified that he had not only had his vehicle stolen by the killer, but had also been subjected to a “sex episode” where he was choked in a nearly identical manner as Honeycutt.

During the death penalty appeals, lawyers for Masterson claimed that the victim could have died due to a heart attack or accidentally during the sexual intercourse. The legal team also questioned the professional credentials of the county medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on the body of Darin Honeycutt. The confession letter to the Texas Attorney General was deemed a “suicide by confession” by the appeals case lawyers. The attorneys maintained that due to Masterson’s long history of drug abuse and the intense withdrawal symptoms he was experiencing, he was not in his right mind when he wrote the letter and wanted to die.

Another Texas execution is scheduled for next week. About eight other inmates are currently sitting on death row in the state, with their death sentences scheduled to be carried out in the coming months.

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