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North Texas Killer Who Laughed Off Death Penalty to be Executed Wednesday

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Christopher Chubasco Wilkins, 48, was convicted in the killings of Willie Freeman and Mike Silva after Freeman sold him a rock instead of crack cocaine during a drug deal.

Wilkins had explained to jurors at his capital murder trial in 2008 how and why he killed his friends in Fort Worth three years earlier, saying he didn't care if they sentenced him to death.

The execution also brings to 539 the number of executions in Texas since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Twenty convicted killers were executed in the USA last year, the lowest number since the early 1980s.

The first US execution of 2017 was held on Wednesday when Texas lethally injected a man convicted of killing two men in a revenge plot after one had tricked him in a $20 drug deal.

Kevin Rousseau, a Tarrant County assistant district attorney, said Wilkins is "a professional criminal".

State attorneys argued courts had rejected similar appeals and that defense lawyers were simply employing delaying tactics.

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During his murder trial, Wilkins testified about a completely separate incident, telling the court that he had previously shot dead a man outside of a bar after a confrontation about a pay phone, according to Fox News.

According to the New York Daily News, prior to the 2005 incident, Wilkins had been arrested and charged for gun possession.

Police say Wilkins drove a stolen truck to Fort Worth. After Freemon laughed at the scam, Wilkins shot him and his friend court records say. Wilkins' fingerprints were found in Silva's wrecked SUV and a pentagram matching one of Wilkins' numerous tattoos had been carved into the hood.

During his sentencing, Wilkins said he'd killed another man the day before and nearly killed two more people the next week using a stolen auto as a weapon.

Wes Ball, one of Wilkins" trial lawyers, described him as "candid to a degree you don't see, ' and had hoped his appearance on the witness stand would have made jurors like him. I know they're bad decisions when I'm making them. "I make them anyway".

'It didn't work, ' Ball said. Historically, Texas has had more executions since that time, by far, than any other state in the union.

The number of USA executions had fallen to a quarter-century low in 2016 due to factors including high costs of prosecutions, sales bans on lethal injections drugs and increased use by juries of life without parole as a sentence.

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