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Alabama Killer Executed

April 14, 2000

ATMORE, Ala. (AP) _ A man who murdered a store owner in 1984 was executed in the electric chair early Friday after failing to win another 11th-hour reprieve.

Robert Lee Tarver Jr., 52, was pronounced dead at 12:11 a.m.

Strapped into the chair, Tarver talked briefly with his guards, then stared straight ahead. Twice, he turned to look at his victim’s children, but did not attempt to communicate with them.

In February, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Tarver a temporary stay of execution to rule on his claim that Alabama’s electric chair is a ``cruel and unusual punishment.″ The court later voted 5-4 not to consider the issue.

Tarver contended that Alabama’s ``antiquated″ electric chair exposed him to a risk of ``excessive burning, disfigurement and ... pain and suffering.″

According to prosecutors, Tarver shot Russell County store owner Hugh Kite several times and stole his wallet as Kite was locking his Cottonton bait shop and grocery for the night. Tarver maintained his innocence in the killing.

Tarver’s attorney, Bryan Stevenson of the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative, also claimed his client was denied a fair trial because blacks were unfairly excluded from the jury that convicted him.

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