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Tennessee to execute man convicted of killing ex-girlfriend by setting her on fire

(Reuters) – A Tennessee man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend by setting her on fire in her car almost 30 years ago is scheduled to be executed by electric chair on Thursday.

Lee Hall, 54, is set to die at 7 p.m. (0100 GMT) at the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville for the 1991 murder of Traci Crozier.

On Wednesday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said he would not intervene in the case, a day after Hall was placed on death watch and moved to a cell next to the execution chamber.

Hall has filed several unsuccessful legal challenges in state and federal court since his conviction for first-degree premeditated murder and aggravated arson in 1992 when he was sentenced to death. Tennessee’s supreme court this week denied his latest request to delay his execution as his claim that one of the jurors was biased because she was a victim of domestic violence is considered.

In the spring of 1991, Crozier moved in with her grandmother and uncle in Chattanooga after breaking up with Hall, who she lived with for five years.

Three weeks after the breakup, during the night of April 16, Hall drank a case of beer and went looking for Crozier. On his way to her home, he filled a tea jug with gasoline and bought a cigarette lighter, according to court documents citing his testimony.

Hall found Crozier driving up to her grandmother’s home and an argument ensued. He then doused her with the gasoline and lit her ablaze inside her two-door Nissan Pulsar.

A neighbor saw “a ball of fire” in the middle of the street and called for emergency assistance as her son helped pull Crozier out of the torched car. The neighbor said that Crozier remained alert, telling her that Hall set the fire and saying “it was gas, gas bomb. He set me on fire.”

When fire and rescue workers arrived at the scene, they found Crozier with 95% of her body burned and rushed her to the hospital where she succumbed to her injures hours later.

When Hall was questioned by police, he said he only intended to burn Crozier’s car, like he did once before, court papers said.

Hall would be the 20th inmate in the United States and the third in Tennessee to be executed in 2019, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; editing by Jane Wardell