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Missouri executes man for rape and murder of girl

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - Missouri executed by lethal injection a 47-year-old man early on Wednesday for the 1991 murder, rape and kidnapping of an 11-year-old St. Louis girl.

The execution of Martin Link, the first in Missouri in nearly two years, was carried out at 12:15 a.m. local time Wednesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre after last-minute appeals failed, Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Cline said.

Gov. Jay Nixon earlier on Tuesday denied a clemency petition, and appeals before Missouri and U.S. federal courts also failed.

Nixon said nothing had changed since Link was convicted of killing Elissa Self-Braun, who disappeared walking to her school bus stop. Her body was found four days later floating in the St. Francis River, about 135 miles from her home.

The execution used sodium thiopental, a drug no longer made by Hospira, Inc., the only U.S. company that manufactured the drug. The company said recently that it will no longer make the drug because it does not want it to be used in executions.

Missouri's last execution was in 2009, and another man, Richard Clay, was scheduled to die earlier this year. His sentence was commuted to life in prison at the last minute by Nixon.

The execution of Link was the fifth this year in the United States. There were 46 executions in the U.S. during 2010, down 12 percent from 2009. Since 1989, Missouri has executed 67 men.

(Reporting by Bruce Olson; Editing by Mary Wisniewski, Jerry Norton and Greg McCune)

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