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Texas Executes Man For Murdering An Auto Mechanic

Gregory Russeau beat a man to death during a robbery in 2001.

Last updated on June 18, 2015, at 8:10 p.m. ET

Posted on June 18, 2015, at 5:30 p.m. ET

Texas Department of Criminal Justice / AP

Texas executed Gregory Russeau on Thursday for bludgeoning an auto mechanic to death with a hammer in 2001.

Russeau, 45, was convicted and sentenced to death for killing 75-year-old James Syvertson at his automobile repair garage in Tyler, Texas. Russeau also stole Syvertson's wallet and car.

He was pronounced dead at 6:49 p.m. local time, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

"I would like to thank my family and friends for what y'all have done for me," he said in his last words. "Thank you for being here with me that I do not have to transition alone. I have peace. To my daughter, I love you, to my grandbabies, sisters and brothers, I love you. I am ready to go home."

His first death sentence was vacated on appeal by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, but he was sentenced to death again in 2007.

Russeau unsuccessfully argued that his original trial counsel was ineffective by failing to call witnesses to contradict the state's testimony. He also argued that a law enforcement official planted his hair on a bottle retrieved from the crime scene, and that the trial court refused to appoint new counsel at his second punishment hearing.

Russeau was represented by the same lawyers during the original trial and his second hearing.

During his first trial, his defense counsel wanted to call Russeau's fourth grade teacher as a witness to testify that he had learning disabilities, according to court documents. They also wanted to call the mother of his child to testify that he had a special relationship with his daughter who had a birth defect. The third witness they wanted to call was a Tyler police officer who would have testified about an internal affairs investigation after Russeau accused police officers of providing him with crack cocaine while he was a confidential informant.

During his first and second sentencing hearings, Russeau instructed his lawyers not to call any more witnesses because he knew he was going to get the death penalty anyway and did not want to put any more stress on his family.

At the second hearing, he was sentenced to death again after medical professionals testified that he was a future danger to society in light of his extensive criminal history and prison records.

Syvertson's body was found by his wife on the on the garage floor, next to a car he was working on at the time of his murder. He died from blunt force injuries after being struck by a hammer.

Russeau would become the ninth person to be executed in Texas this year. In March, the state acquired a new supply of its lethal injection drug, pentobarbital, from an unidentified licensed pharmacy according to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) official. The TDCJ said it has enough pentobarbital to conduct four executions.

"We continue to explore all options including the continued use of pentobarbital or alternate drugs to use in the lethal injection process," the department said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.