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  1. ITV Report

'Houdini' murderer who escaped death penalty seven times is given lethal injection after 35 years on death row

Tommy Arthur Credit: AP

A convicted US murderer who was sentenced to the death penalty in 1982 has finally been put to death after his execution was delayed seven times.

Tommy Arthur, 75, earned the nickname "Houdini" for escaping Alabama's death row through legal challenges. He was given a lethal injection at a prison in south-west Alabama on Friday.

Arthur was already serving life for shooting dead his sister-in-law when his married lover paid him $10,000 (£7,770) to kill her husband, riverboat engineer Troy Wicker, during a work-release programme.

Arthur cried during his final statement and apologised to his four children, who watched their father die from a witness room.

"I'm sorry I failed you as a father," he said. "I love you more than anything on earth."

Thirty-four years after he was first sentenced to death for the murder of a Colbert County man, Thomas Arthur's protracted attempt to escape justice is finally at an end.

Most importantly, tonight, the family of Troy Wicker can begin the long-delayed process of recovery from a painful loss.

– Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall

Last week, Arthur told NBC News that he believed his lawyers would again find a way to block his execution.

"Until I take my last breath I'll have hope," he said in a phone interview. "I don't know how to quit. I don't know how to give up."

However, the US Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for the execution and prison staff began administering lethal injection drugs around 10 minutes before the death warrant expired at midnight.