Blind man executed in US for killing ex-girlfriend

Washington (AFP) - A blind man was executed by the US state of Tennessee on Thursday for burning his ex-girlfriend to death.

Lee Hall, who was previously known as Leroy Hall, chose to be executed by electrocution rather than lethal injection, a choice that Tennessee has offered to those condemned to death before 1999.

He was pronounced dead at 7:26 pm local time (01:26 GMT), according to a statement from the Tennessee Department of Correction.

Hall, 52, was sentenced to death after he was convicted of setting a car on fire with his former girlfriend inside in 1991.

Hall's lawyers argued last year that executing him would "offend humanity" because he is blind due to glaucoma.

But efforts to appeal the sentence were denied, and on Wednesday Tennessee Governor Bill Lee refused to grant Hall clemency.

"The justice system has extensively reviewed Lee Hall's case over the course of almost 30 years, including additional review and rulings by the Tennessee Supreme Court yesterday and today," Lee said in a statement. "The judgment and sentence stand based on these rulings, and I will not intervene in this case."

Lawyers then filed a last-minute appeal with the US Supreme Court, which was also denied.

Hall's lawyers have raised doubts about the jury that convicted him -- one of the jurors hid that she had been a domestic violence victim, raising questions about potential biases.

Tennessee had suspended executions, which are in decline across the United States, in 2009 amid controversy around the drugs used in lethal injections.

But the southern state reinstated the practice in 2018 and has executed five inmates since, including three by electrocution.

Hall is the 21st person to be executed in the US in 2019.