Two more killers have execution dates this week, so the record could reach 40. They are the last executions scheduled in Texas this year. Texas carried out 37 executions in 1997, the previous U.S. record.
Garry Dean Miller, 33, was condemned to die for the 1988 slaying of April Marie Wilson, who was raped, choked and beaten to death. Her body was dragged through clumps of cactus, then left in a clump of brush outside Abilene. A blanket and a Raggedy Ann doll were found nearby.
"I've got no mercy for this guy," Jones County District Attorney Gary Brown said. "Too bad they can't draw and quarter him. Too bad they can't put him up here on the sand and skin him for a couple of days and let him be tortured like she was."
Miller, a former bartender and laborer, confessed and then ordered his lawyers not to pursue appeals after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review his case. He repeatedly refused reporters' requests for interviews.
According to Michael Radelet, chairman of sociology at the University of Florida and the keeper of a database on U.S. executions, Texas' total would be the highest number of executions carried out by a state in American history.
No request for clemency was made to Gov. George W. Bush, who had authority to grant a one-time 30-day reprieve. Only once in his nearly six years in office has Bush used that power to stop an execution, and that inmate was eventually put to death.
Since the state resumed carrying out capital punishment in 1982, 236 condemned murderers preceded Miller to the death house, 147 of them during Bush's tenure.
In a last statement, Miller apologized to the little girl's mother, Marjorie Howlett: "Maggie, I am sorry. I always wanted to tell you, but I just didn't know how. I have been praying for y'all. I hope that y'all find the peace that y'all have been wanting."
Howlett said afterward that the apology was a surprise but comforting.
"I believe in the death penalty," she said. "I'm going to tell you right now: Thank God for George Bush."
On Wednesday, Daniel Joe Hittle, 50, is set to die for the 1989 shooting death of a police officer, one of at least seven people he is believed to have killed. The following night, Claude Howard Jones, 60, is scheduled for injection for the 1989 robbery and shooting death of a liquor store owner.
At least seven condemned killers already have execution dates set for 2001, three of them in January.