A former Army counterintelligence worker was executed by electric chair Tuesday for killing a Virginia couple, becoming the first U.S. inmate to die by electrocution in over a year.
Larry Bill Elliott was pronounced dead at 9:08 p.m. at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt. He was convicted of the January 2001 shooting deaths of 25-year-old Dana Thrall and 30-year-old Robert Finch.
Prosecutors said Elliott killed the couple to win the love of former stripper and escort Rebecca Gragg, who was involved in a bitter custody dispute with the man who was killed.
Elliott said in the death chamber that he had prepared a final statement for his attorneys to read after the execution. In the typed statement, Elliott maintained his innocence.
"The very system that I spent a lifetime defending has failed me," the statement said.
Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine declined to stop the execution earlier in the day, while the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene on Monday.
Two separate juries convicted Elliott of the killings. A 2002 verdict was set aside because a juror discussed the case outside of the court. He was convicted again a year later.
Finch was shot three times, and Thrall was beaten before being shot several times in the face and chest while her two boys, ages 4 and 6, were upstairs in the couple's Woodbridge town home.
At 60, Elliott was Virginia's oldest death row inmate. Virginia death row inmates can choose between the electric chair and lethal injection.
Of the 35 death penalty states, seven Southern states still offer electrocution. Two others allow it only if lethal injection is deemed unconstitutional.
The last person executed by electrocution in the U.S. was James Earl Reed, who put to death in South Carolina in June 2008 for killing his ex-girlfriend's parents. Virginia's last electrocution was in 2006.
(This version CORRECTS Corrects wording in quote from typed final statement. Other minor edits.)