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Florida executes man convicted of 1991 rape and murder

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) - Florida executed a convicted rapist and murderer on Tuesday in the first of two executions scheduled across the United States.

Darius Kimbrough, who had been convicted of a 1991 sexual assault and murder, was pronounced dead at the state prison in Starke, Florida, at 6:18 p.m. EST (2318 GMT), 18 minutes after lethal injection procedure got underway.

The execution of Kimbrough, which followed the rejection of his final appeal by the U.S. Supreme Court, was the 33rd in the United States this year.

It was to be followed later in the evening by the execution in Texas of Jamie McCoskey, who was convicted of kidnapping a couple in 1991 in Houston, raping the woman and stabbing her fiancé to death.

Kimbrough, 40, was sentenced to die for killing Denise Collins, an aspiring artist, after he broke into her Orlando, Florida, apartment and sexually assaulted her. She was found barely alive on her bathroom floor in October 1991. Collins died days later of head injuries suffered in a beating that broke her jaw and fractured her skull.

(Writing by Kevin Gray; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)