WARNING: DISTRESSING CONTENT
A US man convicted of raping and murdering a 21-year-old dancer and university student in 1996 was executed on Thursday morning, but not without stating his innocence one more time.
Anthony Sanchez, 44, was pronounced dead at 10.19am (local time) at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester following a three-drug injection. Earlier this year, he rejected his chance for a clemency hearing.
“I’m innocent,” Sanchez said as he was strapped to a gurney inside the death chamber, Fox News reports.
“I didn’t kill nobody.”
The case for the murder of 21-year-old Jewell “Juli” Busken – an Arkansas local who had just completed her last semester at the University of Oklahoma when she was abducted from the parking lot of her Norman apartment complex on December 20, 1996 – went unsolved for years until DNA from the crime scene matched with Sanchez, who was serving time for burglary.
Sanchez’s lawyer, Eric Allen of Columbus, Ohio, requested a stay of execution in federal court, claiming he needed more time to go through boxes of evidence in the case. The US Supreme Court rejected the request on Thursday.
Busken’s body was found bound, raped and shot in the head near a lake in southeast Oklahoma City.
She had performed as a ballerina in several dance performances during her time at the university and was memorialised at the campus with a dance scholarship in her name at the College of Fine Arts.
Sanchez was convicted and sentenced to die in 2006, after DNA from sperm on Busken’s clothing at the crime scene was matched to him.
Sanchez has long maintained his innocence and did so again in a phone call to The Associated Press earlier this year from death row.
“That is fabricated DNA,” Sanchez said, Fox News reports.
“That is false DNA. That is not my DNA. I’ve been saying that since day one.”
According to information from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections relayed by a reporter with local outlet KOKH, Sanchez requested a last meal featuring chicken fried steak, fried okra, mashed potatoes and gravy, a roll, sweet iced tea and apple pie with vanilla ice cream.
No one from Busken’s family was at the execution, but state Attorney-General Gentner Drummond said he had been in touch with them multiple times in the months prior to the execution.
“Juli was murdered 26 years, nine months and one day ago. The family has found closure and peace,” Drummond said.
This article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission.