Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Texas carries out second execution of the year

The 533rd person executed in Texas since 1976, James Freeman was found guilty of fatally shooting a game warden

Texas on Wednesday night executed James Freeman, who led game wardens on a high-speed chase in 2007 before getting into a gunbattle with them and fatally shooting one of the officers. 

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

Freeman was asked by the warden if he had a final statement. "No, I do not," he replied. 

He was pronounced dead at 6:30 p.m., 16 minutes after Texas prison officials began a lethal dose of pentobarbital. As the pentobarbital began taking effect, he snored about five times and coughed slightly once.

The lethal injection was the second in as many weeks in Texas, which carries out capital punishment more than any other state. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review his case earlier this month, and no new appeals were filed the courts to try to block the punishment.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday declined a clemency petition from Freeman.

Freeman was convicted of killing game warden Justin Hurst, who turned 34 on the day Freeman killed him. On the night of the incident, in Wharton County, about 130 miles southeast of Austin, Freeman drank heavily, got into his pickup truck and shot at animals from the roadside, prosecutors said.

After hearing shots, game wardens approached his vehicle, and he drove off, leading officers on a 90-minute high-speed chase, they said. After officers flattened the truck's tires with road spikes, he got out 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 officers, who were firing back, they said. Freeman was shot four times and survived. Hurst was airlifted to a hospital in Houston and pronounced dead from gunshot wounds.

Wire services

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