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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

California Executes Inmate

SAN QUENTIN, California -- A man convicted of killing two women over a drug deal almost a quarter of a century ago was executed early Wednesday, the first inmate put to death by California in three years.

Donald Beardslee was given a lethal injection shortly after midnight at San Quentin State Prison. Thirty government officials, relatives of his victims and journalists were in the room, separated from Beardslee by a glass partition with curtains.

The execution came hours after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected a clemency petition seeking to commute the death sentence to life without parole, and the Supreme Court rejected two last-minute appeals.

Outside the prison, an estimated 300 protesters stood vigil, decrying the execution as state-sanctioned murder.

Through one of his attorneys, Beardslee told the protesters that he "wanted known his appreciation for these people's presence," actor and anti-death-penalty activist Mike Farrell said, adding that Beardslee "even sent his regards to the people who put the staples in the signs."

Defense lawyer Steven Lubliner said killing Beardslee was wrong.

"It accomplishes nothing," he said. "It demeans everyone."