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Texas executes man who set his ex-girlfriend on fire

By Corrie MacLaggan and David Beasley

AUSTIN, Texas/ATLANTA (Reuters) - A man convicted of killing his former girlfriend by dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire was put to death by lethal injection in Texas on Thursday, the state's first execution of the year.

Carl Henry Blue, 48, was pronounced dead at 6:56 p.m. local time at the state penitentiary at Huntsville, said the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Blue was convicted of killing ex-girlfriend Carmen Richards-Sanders, 38, in her apartment in Bryan, Texas, in 1994 as she was getting ready to leave for work. His execution was the second in the country this year. Texas leads the United States in total executions.

According to court records, Blue threw open the door to Richards-Sanders' apartment, tossed gasoline on her and another man who was in the home at the time and set the two of them ablaze with a lighter.

"I told you I was gonna get you," Blue said to Richards-Sanders, according to a court summary of the case.

The male victim survived his injuries, but Richards-Sanders died 19 days later due to organ failure caused by burns over 40 percent of her body.

After turning himself in to the police, Blue said the incident was a prank and that he had not intended to kill his ex-girlfriend, said the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

In Georgia, Thursday's scheduled execution of a man convicted of fatally shooting two Mercer University students in 1995 was delayed while the U.S. Supreme Court considered his last-minute appeal.

Attorneys for Andrew Allen Cook, 38, argued the state's method of lethal injection violated state and federal law.

Cook was convicted of killing college students Michele Lee Cartagena, 19, and Grant Patrick Hendrickson, 22, as they sat in a parked car next to a lake near Macon, according to court records. Cook fired 14 shots at the couple with an AR-15 rifle and five shots from a 9-millimeter Ruger handgun.

"The murders were completely random," according to court records. "Cook did not know the victims, and there was no interaction between Cook and the victims before he killed them."

After Cook became a suspect, investigators enlisted the help of his father, a veteran FBI agent, to help track him down. Cook admitted the killings to his father, who testified against his son at trial.

(Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Additional reporting by James B. Kelleher and Kevin Gray; Editing by Paul Thomasch, Andrew Hay and Peter Cooney)

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