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Texas executes Robert Jennings for killing police officer in 1988

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A man who was convicted of killing a police officer during a robbery in Houston more than 30 years ago has been executed, state officials say. It marks the first execution in the United States so far this year.

Jennings, 61, was pronounced dead at 6:33 p.m. CT on Wednesday at the Huntsville Unit in Walker County. The execution by lethal injection took place after a last-minute appeal was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jennings was asked if he had any last words before being executed.

“To my friends and family: it was a nice journey. To the family of the police officer, I hope this finds you peace and be well and stay safe. Enjoy life’s moments because we never get them back,” he said.

Jennings and his accomplice, David Lee Harvell, had just robbed an adult movie theater in Houston in July 1988 when they decided to rob a nearby book store, according to court records.

Jennings walked into the store with Harvell’s gun when he came across Elston Howard, a police officer who was arresting store clerk Larry Overholt for a municipal violation. Overholt told police that Jennings walked up to the officer and opened fire, hitting him twice

After Howard collapsed, Jennings shot him a third time and went on to rob Overholt before fleeing the scene. But when Jennings told Harvell that he had shot a “security guard,” Harvell told him to get out of the car and shot him in the hand when he refused.

Jennings was later arrested at Ben Taub Hospital, where he was being treated for his injury. Harvell was arrested at his mother’s house in Euless and was later sentenced to 55 years in prison for aggravated robbery.

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