Texas executes 1st inmate since injection lull

Huntsville_A remorseful convicted killer was executed Wednesday night for raping and killing a Dallas woman 17 years ago, the first prisoner in nine months to be put to death in the nation's most active capital punishment state.

Karl Eugene Chamberlain, with a smile on his face, told relatives of his victim, Felecia Prechtl that he wished he "could die more than once."

Chamberlain lived upstairs in the same apartment complex as his victim.

In 1991, he knocked on Prechtl's door and asked to borrow some sugar. After she filled the request, he returned with a rifle and the roll of duct tape, attacked the single mother and shot her in the head. Her son, then 5, found her body.

Chamberlain denied any knowledge of the crime when questioned by police the day of the slaying. He was arrested five years later after his fingerprint was matched to a print on the roll of duct tape. When he was arrested, he confessed.

Chamberlain's execution was the first in Texas since September. Executions throughout the country were on hold after the Supreme Court agreed in September to consider a challenge from two Kentucky prisoners who questioned the constitutionality of lethal injection procedures. When the court upheld the method in April, the de facto moratorium was lifted and executions resumed.

There were 26 executions in Texas last year, far more than any other state.

Before he was executed, Chamberlain stared directly at Prechtl's son, parents and brother as they stood just a few feet away, looking through a glass window.

"We are here to honor the life of Felecia Prechtl, a woman I didn't even know, and celebrate my death," he said. "I am so terribly sorry. I wish I could die more than once."

"I love you. God have mercy on us all," he said as the drugs began taking effect. Still grinning, he blurted out: "Please do not hate anybody because ..." He was unable to finish as he slipped into unconsciousness.

Ina Prechtl, who lost her daughter, said after watching Chamberlain die: "One question I ask myself every day, why does it take so long for justice to be served?"

Michael Graczyk, AP Writer © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.