An inmate behind bars for kidnapping and raping a teen girl from Texas before soaking her with gasoline and burying her alive has been executed by the federal government.
Orlando Hall was convicted of murdering and raping 16-year-old Lisa Rene in Texas in 1994. His death just before midnight on Friday marked the the eighth federal execution since the Trump administration lifted a two-decade pause on the process.
His death was briefly put on hold late Thursday by a judge, who expressed concern over the the legality of using pentobarbital to execute him. The emergency stay was overturned just six hours later by the Supreme Court and Hall was executed by lethal injection in Terre Haute, Ind.
The Supreme Court decision was also the first capital punishment ruling for new Justice Amy Coney Barrett. She joined the court conservatives in approving Hall’s execution.
In his final words, Hall, who lawyers say became a changed man in prison, reassured and thanked all of those who have supported him over the years.
“I’m OK,” he said in a final statement, adding, “Take care of yourselves. Tell my kids I love them.”
The 49-year-old was pronounced dead at 11:47 p.m.
In 1994, Hall and four accomplices were running a marijuana business out of Pine Bluff, Ark. On Sept. 24 of that year, he met two men at a Dallas-area car wash and gave them $4,700 with the expectation they would return later with the marijuana.
The two men, who were Rene’s brothers, instead claimed their car and money were stolen. Hall and the others later determined they were lying and tracked the pair to an apartment in Arlington, Texas.
When they arrived at the residence, only Rene was home.
“She was studying for a test and had her textbooks on the couch when these guys came knocking on the front door,” retired Arlington detective John Stanton Sr. recalled. Police arrived within minutes of the 911 call, but the suspects had already made off with Rene.
“It was one that I won’t ever forget,” Stanton said. “This one was particularly heinous.”
From there, the suspects took Rene to a motel in Pine Bluff and repeatedly sexually assaulted her over the course of two days. On Sept. 26, 1994, they covered Rene’s eyes and drove her to the Byrd Lake Natural Area, where they had a already dug a grave for the teen.
Hall placed a sheet over the victim’s head then hit her with a shovel. When she ran, another man and Hall took turns hitting her before she was gagged and dragged into the grave and then doused in gasoline before dirt was shoveled over her.
The 16-year-old was found just more than a week later. A coroner determined that Rene was still alive when she was buried and died of asphyxiation in the grave.
Hall was one of five people convicted in the slaying and one of two to be handed the death penalty. However, a court late last year vacated the capital sentence given to Bruce Webster because he is intellectually disabled.
All of the others involved received lesser sentences.
Hall’s lawyers have argued that the all-white jurors who recommended the death penalty weren’t told of the severe trauma he faced as a child or that he once saved a 3-year-old nephew from drowning by leaping into a motel pool from a balcony.