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Texas to carry out first US execution of 2020

The first execution of the year in the United States is scheduled for Wednesday evening in Texas, where a man is to be put to death by lethal injection for killing his wife 15 years ago because she wanted to divorce him.

John Gardner, 64, was sentenced to death in 2006 for killing his fifth wife, who had left him after multiple incidents of physical violence and filed for divorce.

Two weeks before the divorce was to be finalized, Gardner broke into the woman’s new home and shot her in the head. Tammy Gardner died two days later.

Prosecutors say Gardner had a long history of violence against his wives. He fatally shot his second wife while she was pregnant.

He had also kidnapped his third wife and beat her daughter, prosecutors say.

Lawyers for Gardner filed an appeal before the US Supreme Court in September, asking that the case be reopened on grounds that he was not properly defended in his trial. They argued that his lawyers should have developed the theory of “abandonment rage” to explain his actions.

The court refused to take up this appeal on Monday and no further appeal was filed.

Last year 22 people were executed in the United States, including nine in Texas.

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