Northeast Texas man executed for burglary-slaying

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) - Condemned inmate Joseph Ries apologized to his victim's family before being executed tonight in Huntsville.

Ries was condemned for the 1999 slaying of a 64-year-old Northeast Texas man who had befriended him. Robert Ratliff of Cumby was killed and his car was stolen.

Ries -- in his final statement -- expressed love to friends who watched through a death chamber window and urged them to stay strong because "Jesus is coming back soon."

Looking toward another window, Ries told two daughters of his victim he was "really sorry for what I've done." Ries said he prayed that they would find peace through God.

Ries said: "I hope he heals your heart. The truth is that you are going to feel empty after tonight. Standing with Christ in your heart, he can only give you peace. I pray you can find it. I really do."

He started to sing: "Our God is an Awesome God," and "Lord I lift your name on high."

Ries then slipped into unconsciousness.

He was the 12th Texas death row inmate executed this year.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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