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The BBC's Helen Wade
"He was minutes away from being executed by lethal injection"
 real 28k

Friday, 2 June, 2000, 00:01 GMT 01:01 UK
Bush blocks execution
George W Bush
George W Bush has not ordered a stay of execution before
Texas Governor and presidential hopeful George W Bush has requested for the first time since he took office, a reprieve for a death row inmate.

The reprieve was granted by acting governor Rodney Ellis less than 30 minutes before Ricky McGinn was due to die by lethal injection for the 1993 rape and killing of his 12-year-old stepdaughter.

If there is any doubt or any outstanding evidence that exonerates him from the rape, we ought to look at it

George W Bush
Mr Bush is in California campaigning for the presidential election from where he sought a 30-day stay of execution to allow new DNA testing.

McGinn, 43, was scheduled to become the 219th person executed in Texas since 1982, by far the highest number for any state.

Ricky McGinn mugshot
Ricky McGinn had already eaten his "final meal"
Mr Bush, who is due to be formally confirmed as the Republican candidate in this year's presidential election, has come under pressure over Texas' record on capital punishment.

He has repeatedly said he believes no innocent person has been put to death in the state.

Appeal denied

A state court earlier denied McGinn's appeal to consider new evidence and the Texas parole board on Wednesday turned down his request for commutation and reprieve.

Texas executions
More executions than any other US state
218 executed since 1982
131 executed under George W Bush
McGinn's lawyer, Richard Alley, said he felt "intense relief" when the reprieve was granted.

"We expect to have a working agreement within 48 hours as to how we're going to get the evidence and how we're going to get the testing done," he said.

Mr Bush, who has never issued such a reprieve in the 131 executions carried during his term as Governor of Texas, has said Mr McGinn should "have his full day in court".

Mr Bush has said he favours DNA testing in death penalty cases to "erase any doubts" about a prisoner's guilt.

Although he has never issued a 30-day reprieve, Mr Bush has commuted one death sentence to life imprisonment. He said the evidence against Henry Lee Lucas, a confessed serial killer who recanted in prison, was insufficient.
Robert Carter
Robert Carter died by lethal injection in Texas on Wednesday

Texas has put 218 inmates to death since resuming capital punishment in 1982, six years after a national death penalty ban was lifted by the US Supreme Court.

A former prison guard, 34-year-old Robert Carter, was executed in Texas on Wednesday for killing six people, including his four-year-old son.

He was the 19th inmate this year to be executed in Texas, which leads the nation in capital punishment.

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See also:

03 May 00 | Americas
Woman executed in Arkansas
18 Apr 00 | World
Executions decline in 1999
02 Mar 00 | Americas
Texas execution angers French
25 Feb 00 | Americas
US grandmother executed for murder
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