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Texas to execute man convicted of 2002 murder during robbery

By Karen Brooks

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas is scheduled to execute inmate John Manuel Quintanilla Jr. on Tuesday for the 2002 murder of a man during the robbery of a gaming room.

Quintanilla, 36, is scheduled to die by lethal injection after 6 p.m. local time (CST) in Huntsville, Texas.

Quintanilla, a habitual criminal with six burglary convictions on his record, was sentenced to die for the shooting death of Victor Billings in Victoria, Texas, about 120 miles southwest of Houston, in November 2002.

On the night of the deadly attack, Billings was with his wife at a game room when Quintanilla and another man entered the establishment carrying rifles and wearing masks made from pantyhose, according to a report by the Texas Attorney General's Office.

Quintanilla pointed the rifle at Billings' wife and an employee of the game room and demanded money, the report said.

When Billings, a retired sheriff's deputy, approached his wife, Quintanilla shot him twice in the torso, the report said.

Billings tried to disarm the gunman by grabbing the rifle, but Quintanilla shot him a third time as Billings was on his knees, the report said.

He and the other man escaped with $2,000, the report said. The other suspect, Jeffrey Bibb, is serving 60 years on the murder charge.

Quintanilla declined to allow his attorneys to present mitigating evidence in his defense during the trial's punishment phase and was sentenced to death in 2004, according to the attorney general's report.

If the execution is carried out, it will be the 19th in the U.S. and the 9th in Texas this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Two inmates are scheduled for execution this week in Texas. The state has executed 500 inmates since 1982, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Texas has executed more inmates than any other state since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. A third Texas inmate is due to be executed in late July.

(Reporting by Karen Brooks; Editing by Greg McCune and David Gregorio)

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