A Texas inmate convicted of the murder of a prison guard is scheduled to be executed late Thursday as his lawyers await a US Supreme Court ruling on a last-minute appeal.
Robert Pruett, 38, has maintained his innocence in the 1999 killing. He was convicted on the testimony of other inmates who claimed they saw Pruett fatally stab Daniel Nagle.
His execution, if carried out, would be the 20th this year in the US, equaling the total for all of last year, according to the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center. It would be the sixth in Texas, which executes more inmates than any other state.
Pruett was serving a 99-year sentence for another homicide when Nagle was killed. Pruett claims he was framed for the murder. No physical evidence ties him to the crime. His attorneys successfully sought additional DNA testing of the murder weapon, but it proved inconclusive.
They are asking the US Supreme Court to consider allowing DNA testing of other evidence from the murder scene, a request a lower court denied.
Prosecutors contend that Pruett killed Nagle because the guard had written up a disciplinary report on the inmate for eating a sandwich in a part of the prison where eating is not allowed. The ripped-up report was found on the guard’s bloodied body.
But Pruett’s attorneys say Nagle was killed because he was going to expose a money-laundering scheme involving guards and inmates. Four guards were later arrested.