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A jury found Rayford guilty of the capital murder in December 2000 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in November 2003. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
Rayford's execution was delayed for over two hours as the Supreme Court considered last-ditch appeals by his lawyers, who alleged that his trial was tainted by racial bias. Rayford was black. The appeals also disputed the validity of the kidnapping element of Rayford's conviction.
Benjamin Thomas and his three siblings watched Rayford's execution from a viewing room. They declined to speak to the media.
"Carol didn't deserve what I done," Rayford said in his last statement at his execution. "Please try to find it in your heart to forgive me. I am sorry. It has bothered me for a long time what I have done."
He said he made mistakes and asked God to forgive him.
"If this gives you closure and makes you feel better, I have no problem with this taking place," he said.
The lethal injection was then started. As the drug began taking effect, Rayford lifted his head from the pillow on the gurney, repeated that he was sorry, and said he was "going home." He was pronounced dead at 8:48 p.m.
By David Carson. Posted on 31 January 2018.
Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, court documents, public records, Associated Press, ksat.com.