By Bill Cotterell
TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) - A man convicted of killing his cousin and the man's wife to prevent his cousin from testifying against him in a burglary case was executed in Florida on Wednesday, a state prison official said.
Robert Eugene Hendrix, 47, was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m. local time from a lethal injection, said Jessica Cary, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections.
Hendrix was convicted of shooting, stabbing and beating Elmer Scott and his wife, Michelle Scott, at their mobile home in Sorrento, central Florida.
Hendrix and Elmer Scott had been involved in a home burglary, for which Scott was caught and given a reduced sentence in exchange for his testimony against Hendrix.
On August 27, 1990, the eve of his trial, Hendrix and his girlfriend, Denise Turbyville, shot his cousin, beat his head with a pistol and stabbed him in the neck, prosecutors said. When Michelle Scott intervened, she was stabbed and shot.
Turbyville, who received 75 years in prison for second-degree murder, testified against Hendrix to avoid the death penalty. She said Hendrix had discussed his plans to kill Scott and avert going back to prison, where he served 15 months for grand theft, burglary and dealing in stolen property in the Orlando area.
Defense attorneys contended Turbyville and a former cellmate of Hendrix were unreliable witnesses because they were seeking sentence reductions.
They also said the trial judge had a conflict of interest because before becoming a judge he had consulted with Turbyville's defense lawyer, and that trial jurors had seen Hendrix shackled in the courtroom, creating a bias affecting his right to a presumption of innocence.
His appellate lawyers also contended that Hendrix received poor representation in the sentencing phase of his trial because his counsel did not produce evidence that he was addicted to drugs and had been severely beaten by his father.
The Florida Supreme Court rejected those arguments.
Florida Governor Rick Scott has overseen 15 previous executions since becoming governor in early 2011.
(Editing by David Adams, Kevin Gray and Steve Orlofsky)