Texas executes man for killing game warden

  • 28/01/2016

The US state of Texas has executed a man who led game wardens on a high-speed chase in 2007 before getting into a gun battle and fatally shooting one of them.

James Freeman, 35, was pronounced dead at 6:30pm on Wednesday (local time) after receiving a lethal injection at the state's death chamber in Huntsville, a prisons official said.

The execution was the second in Texas this year and the 533rd in the state since the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. In that time, 37 percent of all US executions have taken place in Texas.

Freeman was convicted of killing game warden Justin Hurst, who turned 34 on the day he was killed in Wharton County, about 210km southeast of Austin.

On the night of the incident, Freeman drank heavily, got into his pick-up truck and shot at animals from the roadside, where he killed a possum, prosecutors said.

After hearing shots, game wardens approached the vehicle and Freeman drove off, leading officers on a 90-minute high-speed chase, they said.

When the vehicle's tyres were flattened by road spikes, Freeman got out of his pickup truck and fired 11 shots from his pistol at the wardens. He then retrieved an AK-47, used his pickup truck for cover and fired about 30 more rounds at the game officers, who were firing back, prosecutors said.

Freeman was shot four times and survived. Hurst was airlifted to a hospital in Houston and pronounced dead from the gunshot wounds he suffered.

Freeman's lawyers had asked for leniency, saying he did not have a criminal record before the incident and had been a model prisoner.

The US Supreme Court declined earlier this month to review Freeman's case. There were no last-minute appeals filed.