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Virginia executes man who raped, killed elderly woman

By Matthew Ward

CHESAPEAKE, Va (Reuters) - A man convicted of raping and killing an elderly Virginia woman was executed by lethal injection on Thursday, the first inmate put to death in that state this year, the attorney general's office said.

Jerry Terrell Jackson, 30, was executed at the Greensville Correctional Center, south of the state capital, Richmond.

"Tonight, the death sentence of Jerry Jackson was carried out by the Commonwealth of Virginia for the brutal rape and murder of Ruth Phillips," Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement.

Jackson, on death row since 2003, entered the Williamsburg apartment of 88-year-old Phillips on August 26, 2001. He told police he did not know Phillips was home.

But she was lying in bed at the time and confronted Jackson. She told him to take what he wanted and leave, but he held a pillow against her face until she stopped screaming, raping her at the same time.

Jackson was pronounced dead at 9:14 p.m., Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor said.

Jackson was the first inmate to be put to death in Virginia this year, and the first ever in that state to be executed with a drug mixture that included pentobarbital, a sedative.

Jackson was the 32nd person executed in the United States this year.

After killing Phillips, Jackson left the apartment through a back window with $60. He stole Phillips' car and used the money to purchase marijuana.

Phillips' body was found by her son after she did not attend church or answer her telephone.

A fingerprint on a piece of paper inside a wallet next to Phillips' bed and DNA from hair found on and around her body implicated Jackson, and a jury found him guilty of capital murder.

Jackson met with family members, his spiritual advisor and attorneys today, Traylor said, and the inmate requested a last meal but asked for details to remain private.

Jackson made no final statement, he added.

Traylor said there were no complications with the execution. Virginia, like other states, switched to using pentobarbital instead of sodium thiopental in its lethal injection regime after the sole U.S. supplier of sodium thiopental recently ceased production.

The Supreme Court earlier on Thursday denied an appeal to stay the execution.

(Reporting by Matthew Ward; Editing by Jerry Norton and Cynthia Johnston)

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