Washington, – The state of Alabama (United States) executed on Thursday Michael Samra, who was sentenced to death for murdering in 1997 four relatives of his friend Mark Anthony Duke, the real mastermind behind the crime.
Samra, a 42-year-old white man, was pronounced dead at 19.33 local time (00.33 GMT Friday) after receiving a lethal injection at the Holmore prison in Atmore, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections.
His last words were: “I would like to thank Jesus for everything he has done for me”.
The crimes for which Samra was executed occurred on March 22, 1997, when Duke, who was 16 years old at the time, wanted to avenge his father, Randy Duke, after a fight for not lending him his truck.
According to court documents in the case, Duke and Samra, who was 19, went to the family home of the Dukes accompanied by two other friends, who stayed waiting outside.
They went with the intention of killing everyone and they did so: Duke and Samra first shot and killed Randy Duke and his fiancee, Debra Hunt.
The daughters of Hunt, Chelsea Marie and Chelisa Nicole, who were 7 and 6 years old respectively, cut their throats with kitchen knives because they ran out of ammunition.
Although both were condemned to death by these crimes, in 2005 the Justice annulled the sentence against Duke to be a minor at the time of the facts, reason why it received a sentence of life imprisonment.
Samra’s lawyers filed various appeals arguing that his client’s 19 years at the time of the crimes also made his execution unconstitutional, but the courts rejected that defense.
Samra was the second prisoner executed this year in Alabama and sixth in the entire country. Since the Supreme Court restored the death penalty four decades ago, 1,496 prisoners have been executed in the United States, 65 of them in Alabama.