US man who raped, murdered six-month-old baby executed

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WASHINGTON — An Ohio man convicted of raping and murdering a six-month-old baby was executed by lethal injection on Wednesday after a last-ditch plea for mercy was dismissed.

Steven Smith, 46, was declared dead at 10:29 am (1429 GMT), prison authorities in Lucasville, southern Ohio, confirmed after the execution.

Smith was sentenced to death in March 1999 for the aggravated murder of Autumn Carter, the daughter of his girlfriend, in September 1998. The baby died from trauma and asphyxiation after being crushed during the assault.

Smith’s lawyers had argued he should be spared the death penalty on the grounds that he had not intended to kill his victim during a drunken rape. However, repeated appeals were unsuccessful.

Ohio Governor John Kasich — who has commuted four death sentences in the past and is on record as having reservations about capital punishment — also rejected a plea for clemency after taking advice from the Ohio Parole Board.

“Smith took the life of an innocent 6-month-old infant while using the baby to sexually gratify himself,” the board said.

“It is hard to fathom a crime more repulsive or reprehensible in character. It is clearly among the worst of the worst.”

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