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A death row inmate has been executed despite desperate pleas of mercy from his family not to do so.

Alabama Death Row inmate Joe Nathan James Jr. was executed by lethal injection on Thursday night for the murder of his ex-girlfriend nearly three decades ago.

Nathan James Jr gunned down former lover Faith Hall nearly 30 years ago after breaking in to her friend's home in Birmingham, Alabama in 1994.

The Supreme Court denied a final appeal request Wednesday evening and he was executed at about 9pm, despite several of his relatives calling for mercy.

Two years later he was convicted and sentenced to death, a punishment upheld after a retrial in 1999.

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