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Texas to execute man who killed three teens

John Balentine is seen in an undated prison photo
John Balentine is seen in an undated prison photo

By Corrie MacLaggan

AUSTIN (Reuters) - Texas on Wednesday evening is scheduled to execute a man for fatally shooting three sleeping teenagers in Amarillo in 1998.

John Balentine, 42, is set to be put to death by lethal injection. It would be the fifth execution in Texas this year and the 21st in the country.

In January, 1998, Balentine, carrying a .32 automatic pistol, entered the home of his ex-girlfriend early one morning and shot her brother, Mark Caylor, Jr., 17, and two other boys, Kai Geyer, 15, and Steven Watson, 15, while they were sleeping, according to the Texas Attorney General's office.

Balentine previously had a criminal record in Arkansas that included burglary, kidnapping, and aggravated assault with a knife.

Balentine's execution is the first of two scheduled in Texas this week. On Thursday, the state is set to execute Lee Taylor for fatally stabbing an inmate at a state prison in 1999. At the time of the stabbing, Taylor was serving a life sentence for aggravated robbery in which an elderly man died, according to the attorney general's office.

Texas has executed more than four times as many people as any other state since the death penalty was reinstated in the United States in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

(Editing by Peter Bohan)