The U.S. state of Virginia has executed a 30-year-old convicted of raping and killing an elderly Virginia woman. He was killed by lethal injection on Thursday, the first inmate put to death in that state this year, the attorney general's office said.

Jerry Terrell Jackson, 30, who had been on death row since 2003, was executed at the Greensville Correctional Centre, south of the state capital, Richmond.

"Tonight, the death sentence of Jerry Jackson was carried out by the Commonwealth of Virginia for the brutal rape and murder of Ruth Phillips," Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement.

He was charged after he entered the apartment of 88-year-old Ruth Phillips on August 26, 2001, in Williamsburg.

Jackson said she was lying in bed but confronted him and told him to take what he wanted and leave, but he held a pillow against her face until she stopped screaming, raping her at the same time.

The convict also told police he did not know Phillips was home, when he entered her flat.

After killing Phillips, Jackson left the apartment with just $60 and stole Phillips' car.

The victim's body was found by her son after she did not attend church or answer her telephone.

Jackson was pronounced dead at 9:14 p.m., Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor was the first inmate to be executed with a drug mixture that included a sedative called pentobarbital, in the state.

Before his execution, he was able to meet with family members, his spiritual advisor and attorneys and officials said he requested a last meal but asked for details to remain private.

Virginia, like other states, switched to using pentobarbital instead of sodium thiopental in its lethal injection regime after Lundbeck the sole U.S. supplier of sodium thiopental recently ceased production.

The company has strongly objected to its product's use in capital punishment, and has restricted distribution in an attempt to keep it out of prison death chambers.

"We're in the business to improve people's lives, so the use of pentobarbital to end people's lives contradicts everything that we're in business to do," Matt Flesch, a US spokesman for Lundbeck, was quoted as saying.

The Supreme Court earlier on Thursday denied an appeal to stay the execution.