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Man Executed Despite U.K Mercy Plea

Ignoring mercy pleas from Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, Georgia executed a man with dual British-American citizenship Tuesday for the murder and rape of suburban Atlanta woman 17 years ago.

Tracy Lee Housel, who was born in the British territory of Bermuda, was pronounced dead at 7:28 p.m., prison officials said.

Housel admitted picking up Jean D. Drew, 46, at a suburban Atlanta truck stop on Easter Sunday 1985, then robbing and raping her before strangling her and crushing her head. During his sentencing hearing, Housel also admitted he beat a Texas truck driver to death with a hammer, and stabbed and slashed the throat of an Iowa man.

In a final statement, Housel said he was "sorry from the very center of my heart." To his friends and family, he said, "Take care of yourselves. May God be with you all."

After the final statement, a chaplain read the 23rd Psalm. After that, the fatal injections were administered.

Housel turned his head and winked at the warden. A few moments into the execution, he began having chest palpitations. His mouth and chin also began moving rapidly.

Housel's execution drew little interest in Georgia, but media attention from Britain was intense. Blair asked the state parole board to commute Housel's sentence to life in prison. The Law Society, representing 80,000 lawyers in England and Wales, also wrote to the parole board, and 121 members of the British Parliament signed a motion calling for Housel's sentence to be commuted.

There were more members of the British press present than the anti-death penalty activists who traditionally hold vigils outside the prison during executions.

England abandoned capital punishment 40 years ago.

The Georgia parole board turned down Housel's plea for mercy Monday.