By Verna Gates
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., July 25 (Reuters) - Alabama executed aconvicted murderer on Thursday who prisoners' rights groups saidwas mentally ill.
Andrew Reid Lackey, 29, was put to death by lethal injectionat Holman Prison in Atmore, Alabama, prison officials said. Itwas the state's first execution since 2011.
Lackey was convicted of killing Charlie Newman, an80-year-old World War Two veteran in Athens, Alabama.
Lackey made no statement before his execution, according toprison officials. He was pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m. CDT (2325GMT).
Newman's grandson had told Lackey that his grandfather had avault filled with gold bars, according to court documents.
On a 911 recording from Newman's home, the veteran's lastwords were, "Come sit down and let me pray for you." He wastrying to calm Lackey, who was a close friend of his grandson,according to court records.
On the recording, Lackey could be heard asking for thelocation of the vault.
The Equal Justice Initiative, a Montgomery-based prisoners'rights group, argued that Lackey was mentally ill and hadattempted suicide. He "lives in Andrew land," and takes multiplepsychotropic drugs, the group said in a statement before theexecution.
Even though he had not exhausted his legal appeals,according to court records, Lackey wrote to the Alabama SupremeCourt last year requesting that his death sentence be carriedout.
The prisoners' rights group went to court to stop theexecution. It argued that the judge should have properlyevaluated Lackey's mental competency before permitting him towaive his appeals, but an appeals court allowed the judge'sruling to stand.
Bryan Stevenson, the Equal Justice Initiative's director,said on Thursday that a family member had intervened on Lackey'sbehalf to expedite the execution. (Editing By Brendan O'Brien)