COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ A white man who strangled a black hitchhiker and carved ``KKK'' into her body 20 years ago was executed Friday by lethal injection.

John Arnold, 43, was convicted of killing Betty Gardner. Gardner, 33, was picked up by Arnold, his cousin John Plath and a female companion in 1978 as she made her way home.

The companion, Cindy Sheets, led police to Gardner's body and testified against the cousins under a grant of immunity. She said Arnold strangled Gardner with a garden hose while Plath stabbed her with a knife and a bottle and stomped on her neck.

Gardner was forced to perform oral sex on Plath and Sheets while being beaten with a belt. Plath is expected to be executed in late spring or early summer.

Arnold is the 14th person to be put to death in South Carolina since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.