Georgia, Missouri execute convicted killers, the first since botched effort in OklahomaDeborah Denno in Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 18, 2014
Georgia, Missouri execute convicted killers, the first since botched effort in Oklahoma
By Cliff Pinckard
Two convicted killers were executed in Georgia and Missouri, making them the first death sentences carried out since an Oklahoma execution in April went wrong, No complications were reported in the execution of Marcus Wellons, 59, in Georgia, just before midnight on Tuesday, NBC News reports. Only moments later, John Winfield, 46, was pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m. Wednesday after his death sentence was carried out in Missouri.
The botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma on April 29 has led to legal challenges from inmates against states about the drugs they are using and laws that keep them secret, and it has put increased scrutiny on the executions of Wellons and Winfield, according to the Associated Press:
"I think after Clayton Lockett's execution everyone is going to be watching very closely," Fordham University School of Law professor Deborah Denno, a death penalty expert, said of this week's executions. "The scrutiny is going to be even closer."
Both Wellons and Winfield had filed last-minute appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, requesting the court examine the secrecy laws in their states as a reason to stay their executions, the Los Angeles Times reports. The appeals were denied.
Earlier Tuesday, three judges on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected arguments by Wellons' lawyers that they were being being unconstitutionally blocked from learning more about the quality of the drugs to be used, the Times reports. However, one judge, Charles Wilson, wrote that Georgia's secrecy law had a "disturbing circularity problem."
Wellons was to sentenced to death in 1993 for the rape and murder of 15-year-old India Roberts in the townhouse of Wellons' girlfriend. Wellons was supposed to be moving out of the townhouse when he abducted India as she was walking to her school bus stop the morning of Aug. 31, 1989. She was believed to have been strangled with a telephone cord.
From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Wellons apologized to the family of India Roberts the teenager he was convicted of killing and said, "I ask and hope they will find peace in my death." He thanked his family and friends for their love and prayers and added, "I'm going home to be with Jesus." Wellons hummed as prayer was being said and as the warden read the death warrant. Otherwise there was little movement visible as he lay on the gurney. He was seen to exhale a couple of times before his body seemed to quiver and then there was no more movement.
Winfield, 46, was convicted of shooting his ex-girlfriend and two of her friends during a jealousy-fueled rampage in 1996, NBC News reports. The friends. Arthea Sanders and Shawnee Murphy, were killed. The ex-girlfriend, Carmelita Donald, survived but was blinded, according to NBC.
The Associated Press reports Winfield took four or five deep breaths when the execution drugs were administered Wednesday morning and then fell silent in just seconds. He did not make a final statement and declined a final meal, the AP reports.
The execution of a third inmate, John Ruthell Henry, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday in Flordia.