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Georgia executes man convicted of murder and rape

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Georgia executed by lethal injection late on Tuesday a convicted rapist and murderer who abducted a preschool teacher after her car ran out of gas and shot her in the head.

Emmanuel Hammond, 45, died at central Georgia's Diagnostic and Classification Prison at 11:39 p.m. local time, according to prisons spokeswoman Kristen Stancil.

The Supreme Court delayed the execution by several hours while it considered whether to hear a final appeal. The state supreme court earlier rejected an appeal by Hammond's lawyers to postpone the execution.

Julie Love, 27, was engaged to be married at the time of her death in 1988. Hammond abducted her in Atlanta after her car ran out of fuel at night. He first tried to strangle her and then shot her with a sawed-off shotgun, according to court testimony.

While awaiting trial, Hammond bragged about raping her, according to the testimony of a jailer.

Georgia has now executed 49 men since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 and Hammond is the 26th to die by lethal injection.

Hammond's attorneys lost an appeal on Monday to delay the execution to allow them to investigate Georgia's supply of sodium thiopental, one of the drugs used in lethal injections. The drug has been in short supply nationally.

The state Department of Corrections said it had "an appropriate supply of sodium thiopental."

Hammond's last meal was fried chicken, French fries, corn on the cob, jalapeno peppers, mint chocolate chip ice cream and cherry limeade, the department said.

(Editing by Matthew Bigg and Jerry Norton)