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Texas executes man who killed truck drivers in road rage incident

By Karen Brooks

AUSTIN (Reuters) - Texas on Wednesday executed a man convicted of killing two truck drivers in a fit of road rage after one of the drivers pulled a truck in front of his motorcycle on the highway.

Douglas Feldman, 55, was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 6:28 p.m. (2328 GMT) at a state prison in Huntsville, Texas, according to prison officials.

Feldman was convicted of capital murder in 1999 for the shooting deaths of Robert Everett and Nick Velasquez, both 18-wheeler truck drivers who encountered Feldman on a highway north of Dallas in 1998, according to an account by the Texas Attorney General's Office.

Feldman's appeals included the argument that his trial lawyers were deficient, a juror was improperly dismissed, and the jury was given improper instruction. All those appeals were denied.

In his last statement, Feldman blamed his victims for crimes and said, "I hereby sentence them both to death, which I carried out in August 1998," according to a statement from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Jason January, who prosecuted the case in Dallas County, said Feldman was "the poster child for the death penalty," because of his violent past.

Feldman was riding his motorcycle on a highway in Plano, Texas, when Everett's truck cut him off, the Attorney General's report said.

An enraged Feldman fired several shots into the back of the trailer before he reloaded, pulled up next to the truck cab and fired into Everett's window, killing him, the report said.

He checked to make sure Everett, 36, was dead before continuing home, according to the report. Forty-five minutes later, Feldman saw another 18-wheeler and the driver, 62-year-old Velasquez, fueling up at a gas station.

Feldman pulled into the station, killed Velasquez with two gunshots to the back and drove home, the report said.

Authorities said one week later Feldman shot Antonio Vega three times as he was standing outside a fast-food restaurant. Vega survived and a witness turned in Feldman's license plate number. Feldman's gun matched the weapon used in the shootings of all three men, the report said.

At trial, Feldman testified that the shootings were a result of his anger at Everett for cutting him off and said "he had shot Mr. Velasquez because the man was standing beside an eighteen-wheeler, which caused Feldman to 'explode again in anger,'" according to the attorney general's report.

Feldman is the 21st person executed in the United States this year and the 11th in Texas, which has put to death more people than any other state since the death penalty was reinstated in the U.S. in 1976.

(Additional reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Eric Beech)

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