'I'm going home to be with Jesus': Last words of killer who raped and murdered 15-year-old as he becomes the first US execution since botched lethal injectionDeborah Denno in The Daily Mail (UK), June 18, 2014
'I'm going home to be with Jesus': Last words of killer who raped and murdered 15-year-old as he becomes the first US execution since botched lethal injection
By Snejana Farbernov
A Georgia inmate who raped and murdered a 15-year-old girl in 1989 became the first person on death row to be executed since the botched lethal injection of Oklahoma killer Clayton Lockett in late April.
Marcus Wellons, 59, received a lethal injection late Tuesday in Jackson, Georgia, after last-minute appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court were denied. A prison guard fainting shortly before he was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m, more than an hour after the procedure began.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which witnessed the execution, said Mr Wellons apologized for the 1989 rape and murder of his 15-year-old neighbor India Roberts in suburban Atlanta.
Wellons reportedly apologized to the family of his victim and said: 'I ask and hope that you will find peace with my death'. His final words were: 'I'm going home to be with Jesus.'
The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday denied clemency to Wellons, leaving his fate in the hands of the courts.
Only five minutes after Wellons was pronounced dead, Missouri authorities commenced the lethal injection of John E. Winfield at 12.01am. He was pronounced dead at 12.10am.
Winfield, 46, was put to death for shooting three St. Louis County women in the head in 1996, killing two.
According to the Death Penalty Info Twitter feed, Winfield took four or five deep breaths as the drug was injected, puffed his cheeks twice, and then fell silent.
The U.S. Supreme Court had also refused late Tuesday to halt his execution, and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon denied clemency.
Wellons was served Shepherd's Pie, mashed potatoes and red beans as a final meal although it was unclear if he ate it, according to Death Penalty Info. The same feed also said that Winfield declined to have a final meal.
The executions were the first since the botched April 29 in Oklahoma raised new concerns about lethal injection.
Another convicted killer, John Ruthell Henry, is scheduled to die later Wednesday in Florida.
All the states planning executions — Florida, Georgia and Missouri — refuse to say where they get their drugs, or if they are tested.
Lawyers for two of the condemned inmates have challenged the secretive process used by some states to obtain lethal injection drugs from unidentified, loosely regulated compounding pharmacies.
Nine executions nationwide have been stayed or postponed since late April, when Oklahoma prison officials halted the execution of Clayton Lockett after noting that the lethal injection drugs weren't being administered into his vein properly. Lockett's punishment was halted and he died of a heart attack several minutes later.
'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.'
Marcus Wellons' execution in Georgia was scheduled for 7pm, but was delayed pending the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court appeal.
Just before 11pm Eastern Time, the decision came down from the justices refusing to grant Wellons, 59, a last-minute reprieve, clearing the way for his execution an hour later.
Georgia and Missouri both use the single drug pentobarbital, a sedative. Florida uses a three-drug combination of midazolam hydrochloride, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride.
Despite concerns about the drugs and how they are obtained, death penalty supporters say all three convicted killers are getting what they deserve.
Wellons was convicted in the 1989 rape and murder of India Roberts, his 15-year-old neighbor in suburban Atlanta.
Soon after the girl left for school, another neighbor heard muffled screams from the apartment where Wellons was living.
Later that day, a man told police he saw a man carrying what appeared to be a body in a sheet. Police found the girl's body in a wooded area. She had been strangled and raped.
In Missouri, Winfield had been dating Carmelita Donald on and off for several years and fathered two of her children. Donald began dating another man. One night in 1996, in a jealous rage, Winfield showed up outside Donald's apartment in St. Louis County and confronted her, along with two friends of hers.
Winfield shot all three women in the head. Arthea Sanders and Shawnee Murphy died. Donald survived but was blinded.
Symone Winfield, the daughter of Donald and John Winfield, was among those who asking Gov. Jay Nixon for clemency, but the relatives of other victims want to see him die.
A federal judge granted a stay of execution last week on a claim that a prison worker dropped plans to write a letter in support of clemency due to intimidation from staff. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the stay Tuesday, and attorneys for Winfield appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In Florida, the state is moving ahead with the execution of John Ruthell Henry despite claims he is mentally ill and intellectually disabled.
The state claims anyone with an IQ of at least 70 is not mentally disabled; testing has shown Henry's IQ at 78, though his lawyers say it should be re-evaluated.
Henry stabbed his estranged wife, Suzanne Henry, to death a few days before Christmas in 1985. Hours later, he killed her 5-year-old son from a previous relationship.
Henry had previously pleaded no contest to second-degree murder for fatally stabbing his common-law wife, Patricia Roddy, in 1976, and was on parole when Suzanne Henry and the boy were killed.
Asked Tuesday if he had discussed with the Department of Corrections what happened in Oklahoma and if any changes were needed in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott said, 'I focus on making sure that we do things the right way here.'
Florida and Missouri trail only Texas as the most active death penalty states. Texas has carried out seven executions. Florida has executed five men in 2014 and Missouri has executed four. Combined, the three states have performed 16 of the 20 executions this year.
Wellons was the first Georgia inmate executed since February 2013 and just the second since 2011.