A man who killed his wife and father-in-law pinned his hopes on last-minute intervention from the state governor as he awaited lethal injection early Friday in the United States' 1,000th execution since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Kenneth Lee Boyd's last pending legal appeal early Thursday evening. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Boyd's other final appeal earlier in the day. He is set to die at 2 a.m. Friday (0700 GMT).
If Boyd, 57, is executed, two relatives of his victims will watch him die through the thick glass panes separating the viewing room from the stark execution chamber at Central Prison. Members of Boyd's family also may witness the execution. A prison spokeswoman said the family hasn't decided who, if anyone, will watch.
Boyd, who doesn't deny he committed the murders, told The Associated Press in a prison interview that he wants no part of the infamous distinction of being the 1000th prisoner executed in the modern era of capital punishment. A spokesman for Governor Mike Easley said the governor will treat Boyd's case like others he has considered.
Larger-than-normal crowds of protesters were expected in Raleigh on Thursday, and vigils were planned across the state. But Boyd's hopes for a last-minute reprieve appeared slim. There is no doubt about his guilt and his case does not include the kind of legal concerns that led Virginia Governor Mark Warner to spare the life Tuesday of Robin Lovitt, who had been set to be the 1,000th person executed.
The murder weapon in Lovitt's case _ a pair of scissors used to stab a man to death _ had been improperly destroyed, preventing the defense from subjecting it to the latest in DNA testing.
In Easley's nearly five years as North Carolina governor, 22 inmates have been executed. He has granted clemency twice: One case suffered from lost evidence; in the other, the defense claimed jurors were racially biased against a black man convicted of killing the husband of a white woman with whom he had been having an affair.
In his clemency petition, Boyd's attorneys argued his experiences in Vietnam _ where as a bulldozer operator he was shot at by snipers daily _ contributed to his crimes, the AP reported. Boyd called the death penalty "nothing but revenge." A.M.