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Georgia execution 1st since botched injection
Georgia-Death Penalty Werm
Marcus Wellons

JACKSON, Ga. — A Georgia inmate convicted in 1993 of raping and murdering his 15-year-old neighbor in suburban Atlanta has been executed, marking the first lethal injection since a botched execution in Oklahoma in April.

Marcus Wellons, 59, was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. EDT Tuesday after a single-drug injection at the state penitentiary at Jackson, Department of Corrections authorities said. They reported no complications.

In 1993, Wellons was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1989 slaying of his neighbor, India Roberts, a high school sophomore who had been raped and strangled and her naked body left in woods.

Before the execution began, Wellons said he hoped his death could give Roberts' family peace.

"I'd like to apologize to the Roberts family for my crimes and ask for forgiveness," Wellons said. He then thanked his friends and family for their support and said, "I'm going home to be with Jesus."

Georgia uses one drug — the sedative pentobarbital — for executions, while Oklahoma and some other states use three.

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.

Wellons' execution, set originally for 7 p.m., began nearly four hours later, after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its order refusing to grant a last-minute reprieve.

A federal judge did approve a request by Wellons' lawyers to have an anesthesiologist they selected witness the execution. Wellons' lawyers argued that the state's refusal to provide information about the drug made it impossible to mount a successful challenge based on the Eighth Amendment, which protects against cruel and unusual punishment.

Among his appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court was a challenge to the secretive process used to obtain the drugs from unidentified, loosely regulated compounding pharmacies.

Like many other states, Georgia has had trouble obtaining execution drugs in recent years because major drugmakers, many based in Europe where opposition to capital punishment is strong, began refusing to sell their products if they were to be used in executions.

The Department of Corrections confirmed last week that it had secured the pentobarbital for Wellons' execution from a compounding pharmacy, which custom-makes drug preparations. Tuesday's execution marked the first time the state used a compounded drug in an execution, though other states have done so.

Elsewhere, a Missouri inmate convicted in the killings of two women in 1996 was executed early Wednesday. A Florida inmate is facing scheduled execution Wednesday evening.




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