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Oct 27, 4:51 PM EDT

Man convicted of killing ex to be executed next month

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ATLANTA (AP) -- A Georgia death row inmate convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend is set to be executed next month, state Corrections Commissioner Homer Bryson announced Thursday.

Steven Frederick Spears, 54, is scheduled to die on Nov. 16 at the state prison in Jackson by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital. Spears was convicted of murder in the August 2001 death of Sherri Holland at her home in Dahlonega.

A Georgia Supreme Court summary of the case says Spears killed Holland because he suspected she had been romantically involved with someone else. Spears came up with four separate plans for her death and ultimately killed her by choking her, wrapping tape around her mouth and face and putting a plastic bag over her head, the summary says.

Spears would be the eighth inmate executed by Georgia this year, the most in a calendar year in the state since the death penalty was reinstated nationwide in 1976. Georgia executed five inmates last year and five in 1987.

Spears, whose relationship with Holland had ended, told investigators that he had told her when they began dating that of she was sleeping with someone else he would "choke her ass to death."

He had been hiding in a closet in Holland's house, waiting until he was sure she was asleep before he entered Holland's bedroom at about 2:30 a.m. or 3 a.m. on Aug. 25, 2001, the summary says. He told her to roll over so he could duct tape her hands and feet.

Spears and Holland struggled for about five or 10 minutes, starting in the bedroom and continuing into the hallway. He choked her until she lost consciousness in the hallway and then dragged her into the bedroom where he bound her hands and feet, wrapped her face and mouth with duct tape and put a plastic bag over her head, the summary says.

Spears placed Holland's head on a pillow, "so her face wouldn't be smashed on the floor," he told investigators.

He locked the door, took her purse and left, returning a few minutes later to grab a cigarette case where she kept money. He drove her vehicle to his house, changed clothes and got a shotgun and ammunition.

Spears went to a store where he bought fishing supplies, a fishing license, a hat and paint that he planned to use to paint over black stripes on Holland's vehicle, the court summary says. He later ditched her vehicle because he feared it had an anti-theft tracking device. He lived in the woods for 10 days before an officer saw him walking along a highway, asked his name and arrested him.

Toward the end of his confession, Spears told investigators, "I loved her that much. I told her I wasn't letting her go, and I didn't." He added that he'd do it again if he had to.


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