An elderly death row inmate has been executed in California shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal.

Clarence Ray Allen died by lethal injection Tuesday morning at 12:38 local time (0838 GMT) - just minutes after the end of his 76th birthday.

Allen was California's oldest death row inmate to be executed, and the second oldest in the United States since a ban on capital punishment was lifted in 1976.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a last-minute appeal filed by his attorneys on Monday to stop the execution because of his age and ill health. Allen suffered from diabetes, was legally blind and confined to a wheelchair.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected Allen's appeal for clemency last week.

Allen was already a convicted murderer when he was condemned in 1982 for paying a fellow inmate to kill three witnesses in that case.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.