A serial killer executed by lethal injection gasped and complained of a painful burning sensation as he took his final breaths.
Danny Bible began breathing heavily, muttered "it hurts" and said it "burned" as he was put to death with a deadly cocktail of drugs at a Texas prison, eyewitnesses reported.
Bible, 66, had confessed to murdering four people, including his sister-in-law’s infant son, during a rape and murder spree.
He was dubbed the "ice pick killer" for the weapon he used to murder a young woman in 1979.
Bible was executed on Wednesday evening despite a last-minute plea from his lawyers that his veins were too compromised for a lethal injection.
He was put to death in the state prison’s death chamber in Huntsville after the US Supreme Court rejected his appeal.
Bible was strapped to a gurney and then injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs despite concerns about the difficulty of finding a suitable vein.
He shook from Parkinson’s tremors and he muttered "it hurts" as his voice trembled, the Houston Chronicle reported.
He also took gasping breaths and said it "burned" before closing one eye, snoring and falling silent, the report added.
The killer stopped moving three minutes after the lethal dose was administered, and he was pronounced dead at 6.32pm local time.
Bible’s execution was the 12th this year in the US and the seventh in Texas, which has executed more inmates than any state since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
He made no last statement, a prisons official said. His execution occurred in a typical time frame for a lethal injection procedure.
Bible was convicted of the 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 was dumped near a Houston bayou.
The crime went unsolved for nearly 20 years, until Bible confessed to the murder and other sexual assaults that included raping an 11-year-old girl in Montana.
He had gone on a rape and murder spree that included the 1983 killing of his sister-in-law Tracy Powers, her four-month-old son Justin and her roommate Pam Hudgins, court records show.
After a plea deal for a 25-year sentence in those killings, Bible served eight years and was paroled.
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After his early release under a program that Texas has since abandoned, he raped a woman in Louisiana and was apprehended in Florida. Soon afterward, he admitted to the ice pick murder, for which he was sentenced to death in 2003.
"Bible has killed at least four people, including an infant," Texas said in a court filing. "Unlike many offenders, he remained violent as he aged, committing his most recent rape in his late forties."
Ms Powers’ brother Larry Lance told reporters after the execution: "Danny Paul Bible is as a vile and evil a person that has ever drawn breath.
"We are glad to have witnessed him draw his last breath. I know that he will burn in hell for eternity."
Bible’s lawyers said there was undeniable evidence his recent medical deterioration has rendered his veins inaccessible or incapable of sustaining a lethal injection.
Over the years, Bible contracted coronary disease, diabetes and hypertension, they said.
Two executions of inmates with compromised veins have been botched recently, one in Ohio and another in Alabama. Their lawyers warned courts the men were too frail 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.
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