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Texas executes Mexican national for murder and rape

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas executed by lethal injection on Wednesday a Mexican citizen who was convicted of bludgeoning a man to death and repeatedly raping the man's wife.

Ramiro Hernandez, 44, was pronounced dead at 6:28 p.m. CDT at the Texas state death chamber in Huntsville after receiving a dose of lethal drugs, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.

Hernandez was the sixth convict executed in Texas this year and the 16th in the United States.

The Mexican government has tried to halt other executions of its citizens in the state, arguing Texas has not met international obligations concerning the treatment of foreign nationals taken into custody. It had appealed to Texas to halt the execution of Hernandez.

Texas has usually proceeded with the executions despite the diplomatic protests and the Mexican Foreign Affairs Ministry had said it had exhausted all remedies to stop the execution.

In a last statement in Spanish translated by the state criminal justice department, Hernandez said he thanked God for letting him see his family and told them not to be sad.

"I am sorry for what I have done," Hernandez said. "Be mindful that I am happy till the end. To the family of my boss, I love you."

Hernandez said, "I have no pain and no guilt. All I have is love. Love will win. Thank you God. I am going with you."

Hernandez, a hired hand, was convicted of beating his employer Glen Lich to death with a metal bar in October 1997 in the south central Texas county of Bandera.

"(He) then ransacked the Lich residence and repeatedly sexually assaulted Lich's wife at knife-point," the Texas Attorney General's office said in statement.

A federal court had granted Hernandez a temporary stay of execution, saying the state needed to provide information about the supplier of the lethal injection drug.

The stay was reversed by a U.S. appeals court this week, which said there was no compelling evidence that protections provided by the U.S. Constitution would be violated under Texas' current procedures.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin and David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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