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Texas killer Jonathan Green executed in rape, murder of girl, 12

HOUSTON -- A Texas man convicted of raping and murdering a 12-year-old girl north of Houston more than a decade ago was executed Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court refused his last-minute appeal.

Jonathan Green, 44, was originally scheduled for execution on June 30, 2010, but his attorneys successfully appealed for a stay then and again on Monday, arguing that Green was schizophrenic and did not receive due process in his appeal.

Green’s Houston-based attorney, James Rytting, did not return calls after the Supreme Court ruling.

The Texas attorney general’s office prevailed in its motion before the Supreme Court a day after prevailing before the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. That court overturned the stay late Tuesday, noting that evidence showed Green understood why he was being put to death.

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The Supreme Court has held that mental illness doesn’t automatically disqualify someone from execution, as long as the person understands the punishment and why it’s being meted out.

Green was convicted in 2002 of the abduction, rape and strangling of neighbor Christina Neal, snatched as she walked home on June 21, 2000, according to the Texas attorney general’s summary of the case. Investigators became suspicious of Green after they learned he had been burning trash soon after the girl’s disappearance. They got a warrant to search his property, discovering a shallow grave and inside the house, tucked behind a chair, Christina’s body stuffed inside a bag.

His final appeal to the Supreme Court delayed the execution for nearly five hours. He was executed at 10:45 p.m. CDT Wednesday, Texas corrections officials told the Los Angeles Times, just before his death warrant expired at midnight.

Green’s last statement was: “I’m an innocent man. I did not kill anyone. Y’all are killing an innocent man. My left arm is killing me, it hurts bad.”

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He was the 10th Texas inmate executed this year, and the 487thsince the state began giving lethal injections in 1982. His death followed that of Texas death row inmate Cleve Foster, 48, who was sentenced to die for his part in the abduction and killing of a 30-year-old woman near Fort Worth in 2002. Foster was executed Sept. 25, his fourth scheduled execution date, after last-minute appeals failed.

Less than a week earlier, Robert Harris, 40, a man who defense attorneys argued was too mentally disabled to understand his case, was executed for the robbery and murder of five people at a Dallas-area car wash in 2000.

Three more executions are scheduled this month in Texas, the nation’s most active death-penalty state. The next is Anthony Hanes, 33, scheduled for execution Oct. 18 for the fatal 1998 shooting of a Houston police officer.

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Join Molly on Google+ and Twitter @mollyhf. Email: molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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