Texan executed for murder committed at age 17

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (Reuters) -- A Texas man was put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday for a murder he committed when he was 17, the killing of his infant cousin during a car wheel theft.

The case drew criticism from anti-death penalty groups and others opposed to the execution of juvenile offenders.

Toronto Patterson, 24, was condemned for killing his 3-year-old cousin Ollie Brewer while stealing car wheels from his great-aunt's Dallas home on June 6, 1995.

In a final statement while strapped to a gurney in the death chamber, Patterson denied committing the murder but also said he believed he should be punished.

"I feel a great deal of responsibility and guilt for all this crime. I should be punished for the crime, but I do not think I should die for a crime I did not commit," he said.

"I have no animosity, I am at peace and I invite you all to my funeral," Patterson said.

"I have no animosity, I am at peace and I invite you all to my funeral."
— Toronto Patterson

He was the third person executed in Texas this year for a crime committed while still a teenager.

"Such executions not only violate international norms, they also offend human decency," Steven Hawkins, executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said in a statement.

"The mind of a juvenile offender is by definition less developed than the mind of an adult ... (they) therefore cannot be held to the same degree of culpability," he said.

Hawkins also said that the last six juvenile offenders put to death in the United States, all in Texas, were black, indicating that race was a factor.

Patterson was the 23rd person executed in Texas this year and the 279th since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982, six years after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a national death penalty ban. Both totals lead the nation.

For his final meal, Patterson requested six pieces of fried chicken, four jalapeno peppers, four buttermilk biscuits, salad with Italian dressing, six Sprite soft drinks and white cake with white icing.

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