NATION : Oklahoma Executes '79 Slayer

From Times Wire Services

An inmate convicted in the 1979 shotgun slaying of an elderly man who walked in on a burglary was put to death by injection early today in Oklahoma's first execution in 24 years.

Charles Troy Coleman, 43, was pronounced dead at 12:35 a.m. at Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

"Just tell everybody I love them and I have a peace and quiet heart," Coleman, his voice quavering, said shortly before he died. At one point, he turned toward his attorney, Mandy Welch, and said, "I love you, Mandy."

As he died, candlelight vigils were held outside the prison and at the Capitol in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma becomes the 15th state to execute someone since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 allowed use of the death penalty to resume. Coleman was the 138th person put to death in the United States since the high court ruling.

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