By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas inmate was executed on Thursday for killing two sandwich shop employees during a robbery in 2002 after the Supreme Court denied appeals that argued he was not the trigger man and his case was tainted by prosecutorial misconduct.
Terry Edwards, 43, died of lethal injection at 10:17 p.m. at the state's death chamber in Huntsville, said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark in a statement.
“Yes, I made peace with God. I hope y’all make peace with this," Edwards said before he was put to death, according to the statement released by Clark.
The execution was put on hold for about four hours as the Supreme Court considered several motions citing what lawyers for Edwards said were faults in previous legal proceedings. The court rejected those requests late on Thursday evening.
The execution was the 540th in Texas since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the most of any state.
Edwards was convicted along with co-defendant Kirk Edwards, an older cousin, of the July 2002 murders of Dallas Subway sandwich shop employees Mickell Goodwin and Tommy Walker in a robbery.
Kirk Edwards has a projected release date of July 2027, Texas Department of Criminal Justice online records showed.
In an editorial posted online on Wednesday, the Dallas Morning News said the execution should be halted because there are too many unanswered questions in the case.
"These questions do not paint Terry Edwards as innocent. But they do raise uncertainties as to whether the jury was misled when it determined he had pulled the trigger and deserved to die, it said.
Lawyers for Texas have argued that new counsel for Edwards previously tried to halt the execution on similar grounds and that his conviction and sentencing were legal and proper.
John Mills, an attorney for Edwards, said he had evidence indicating that Edwards was not the gunman.
"Previous counsel has done virtually almost nothing to ensure that his case was investigated and that the powerful evidence undermining the reliability and the fairness of his conviction was brought to light," Mills said in an interview.
One of the main pieces of evidence was gunshot residue testing, which at trial was presented and used by prosecutors who said Terry Edwards fired the fatal shots.
In court papers, lawyers for the Terry Edwards said the gunshot residue evidence was improperly interpreted and actually show that Edwards was not the shooter.
(This version of the story was refiled to add word, delete extraneous word in paragraph 1)
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by James Dalgleish, Leslie Adler and Michael Perry)