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A jury convicted Nenno of capital murder in January 1996 and sentenced him to death. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence in June 1998. All of his subsequent appeals in state and federal court were denied.
Four days after Nenno was convicted, Buddy Benton filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Nenno and his relatives who owned the house where Nenno lived. The lawsuit alleged that Nenno's relatives knew or should have known about his deviant tendencies and should not have allowed him to live in a neighborhood with children. An investigation showed that Nenno's sister asked him to live in their house for two years while she and her husband, who was in the U.S. Navy, lived overseas. Police determined that the couple had no knowledge that Nenno was a child molester. Benton dropped the lawsuit in August 1996.
In an interview from death row the week before his execution, Nenno said that at the time of the killing, he was addicted to pornography and had been drinking. He also said, though, that nothing could excuse, his crime. "I can't apologize enough," he said.
Nenno's lawyers did not file any late appeals on his behalf, but Nenno did write an appeal for clemency to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. "During the years that I have been imprisoned, I have often thought about the devastating grief and pain I caused Nicole Benton, her family, and friends," he wrote. "There is no excuse or rationale which would be sufficient to justify this heinous act of violence perpetrated by me." The board declined Nenno's petition.
Nenno did not look at Buddy Benton or the other members of the victim's family who attended his execution. When asked if he wanted to make a last statement, he replied, "No, warden." The lethal injection was then started. He was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m.
By David Carson. Posted on 29 October 2008.
Sources: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Attorney General's Office, Associated Press, "The Monstrous Crimes of Eric Charles Nenno" by Robert A. Waters, court documents.