A man convicted of murdering an elderly couple during a robbery at their rural home almost 26 years ago has been executed in Missouri.
Carman Deck, 56, died by lethal injection at the state prison in the city of Bonne Terre.
He shot both James and Zelma Long in the head in July 1996 after he and his sister stopped at their home, pretending to ask for directions.
“Tonight, justice was served,” said Missouri Governor Mike Parson, adding that Mr and Mrs Long were “innocent victims of Carman Deck’s heinous violence”.
Deck is only the fifth person to be executed in the US this year, reflecting a gradual decline.
The number peaked at 98 in 1998, but by last year it had dropped to 11, the fewest since 1988.
Deck said he wasn’t surprised that the Longs let him in to their property in De Soto, about 45 miles southwest of St Louis.
“They’re country folks,” he told a detective, according to court records. “They always do.”
He knew they kept valuables in a safe.
Once inside, he pulled a gun from his waistband, getting Zelma Long to open the safe and remove some jewellery.
She also took $200 from her purse and extracted money from a canister.
After ordering the couple to lie face down on their bed, court records say Deck stood for 10 minutes deciding what to do, before shooting them both.
Police received a tip-off and Deck was arrested outside his sister’s apartment building in St Louis County later that night.
The decorative tin canister from the Longs’ home was on the floor of his car.
He later gave a full account of the killings in oral, written and audiotaped statements, prosecutors said.
Deck was sentenced to death in 1998, but the Missouri Supreme Court threw the sentence out because of errors by his trial lawyer.
The US Supreme Court rejected his second sentence in 2005, citing prejudice caused by Deck being shackled in front of a sentencing jury.
He was sentenced to death for a third time in 2008.
A clemency petition on his behalf cited abuse – including sexual – he suffered as a child, and beatings that left welts.
Deck’s attorney, Elizabeth Unger Carlyle, said he was raped while in prison for theft aged 19.
“This experience transformed him from a non-violent thief into the person who committed two terrible murders,” she said, calling his execution “unjust and immoral”.
The death penalty is mostly now concentrated in a few southern and plains states.
On Monday, the governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, paused executions in his state for the rest of the year to enable a review of lethal injection procedures.
A testing oversight forced the state to call off the execution of Oscar Smith an hour before he was due to die on 21 April.