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Delaware carried out its first execution since 2005 early Friday, putting to death a man who was convicted of killing a woman with an ax during a burglary nearly two decades ago.

Robert Jackson III was pronounced dead at 12:12 a.m. after being given a lethal injection at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna.

Jackson, 38, lifted his head when asked for his last words shortly after midnight. Searching the window between the execution chamber and witnesses, he asked if the two children of the victim, Elizabeth Girardi, were watching.

"Are the Girardis in there? Christopher and Claudia, if you are in there, I've never faulted you for your anger. I would have been mad myself," he said, going on to deny he killed their mother.

He suggested that his accomplice in the burglary, Anthony Lachette, was the killer.

"Tony's laughing his ass off right now because you're about to watch an innocent man die. This isn't justice," he said before putting his head back down and closing his eyes.

When the execution began, Jackson started making a snoring sound, his lips sputtered and his breath began to quicken. Prison officials closed the curtain between the execution chamber and witnesses after about four minutes to check whether he was conscious, calling out twice, "Inmate Jackson, can you hear me?" There was no response.


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