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Georgia, Missouri carry out executions

By Jim Salter and Kate Brumback

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A Georgia inmate convicted of rape and murder was executed Tuesday night in the nation's first capital punishment since a botched execution in April raised new concerns about lethal injection.

Marcus Wellons, 59, received a lethal injection late Tuesday at a prison in Jackson after last-minute appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court were denied. A corrections official said he was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. Eastern time. The execution seemed to go smoothly with no noticeable complications.

Inmates Executed Over Critics' Objections

Wellons' execution came about an hour before that of inmate John Winfield in Bonne Terre, Missouri, and a third execution is scheduled for Wednesday night in Florida.

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."

Wellons was lying still with his eyes closed while the drugs were administered. A few minutes into the procedure, Wellons took a couple of heavy breaths and blew air out through his lips as if snoring, but by about five minutes in, there was no visible movement.

It wasn't immediately clear exactly when the drugs administered, but typically it is within a minute or two after the warden leaves the room. The warden left the room at 11:32 p.m., 24 minutes before Wellons was pronounced dead.

Winfield, who was convicted of killing two women, was executed by lethal injection at 12:01 a.m. and was pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m. Central time, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Public Safety said. The U.S. Supreme Court had also refused late Tuesday to halt his execution, and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon denied clemency.

Winfield, 46, took four or five deep breaths as the drug was injected, puffed his cheeks twice and then fell silent, all in a matter of a few seconds.

The execution of John Ruthell Henry, who was convicted of killing his estranged wife and her son, is scheduled for Wednesday night in Florida.

All three states 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.

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.

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.

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.

Winfield declined to make a statement Wednesday.

In Florida, the state is moving ahead with the planned execution despite claims that Henry, 63, 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 this year. Florida has executed five men, and Missouri has executed five.

Join the discussion

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BRUCE June 18 2014 at 8:21 AM

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.

Anybody else see a problem here?

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2 replies
Mocs BRUCE June 18 2014 at 9:29 AM

Nah...don't you know the hug-a-thug mentality? These people CAN be rehabilitated! Right back onto Death Row.

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1 reply
margaret Mocs June 18 2014 at 10:50 AM

Amen to that!!!

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jimmy.zucco BRUCE June 18 2014 at 2:00 PM


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rockermn June 18 2014 at 7:22 AM

Give them ALL that death ,and do it in the first year of the crime they did.Why should we,as tax payers ,have to feed them for 20 years or so . They did not give their victims any forgiveness

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7 replies
kittenblu June 18 2014 at 9:06 AM

Sick to death of the way our focus shifts to the killers needs and wants when nobody cares to think about the brutal way they have killed their victim or victims. I have no pity for these animals who, once caught, can sure put on the 'oh poor me act'. Kill them all and do it in a reasonable amount of time, not 20 some odd years later.

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3 replies
theq043 June 18 2014 at 7:41 AM

Bring back SPARKY (Electric Chair)

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2 replies
johngin1999 theq043 June 18 2014 at 11:22 AM


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pm0501 theq043 June 18 2014 at 11:54 AM

Or the firing squad! I don't know of any executions that failed using this method!

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1 reply
rodinz pm0501 June 18 2014 at 12:03 PM

Hanging is quick..broken neck and gone

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Bill June 18 2014 at 8:05 AM

I notice it was women and kids they killed and don't really care about how " humane " the death is for them . They are all bad people . End of that , end of them . Now if we can do the same with the Muslim extremist that kill , plot and terrorize others for not thinking as they do . Seems we are afraid to offend them . I say if just like the killers of our children and women and they do the same , Put them to death on the fast track .

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1 reply
prodt4u2 Bill June 18 2014 at 9:39 AM

Maybe just maybe if we stayed out of these "Muslim Extremist" countries bombing and killing their citizens so that we can help ourselves to their oil and natural resources just maybe, just maybe we wouldn't have as much so called terrorism. Why do we need a US compound as big as 18 football fields in Irag with over 5000 Americans housed in this compound. Yeah right lets see how Americans would react if an Arab nation wanted to build such a compound on American soil to facilitate stealing our natural resources. Try that on for size all of you flag waivers.

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8 replies
hunglow5569887 June 18 2014 at 8:21 AM

Gice them what they gave there Victims Death!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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1 reply
rohrscheibcroh hunglow5569887 June 18 2014 at 4:40 PM

agreed now maybe there familys will have peace. been

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tranacria June 18 2014 at 9:05 AM

WWindfield killed two women and shot a third causing blindness. Let the punishment fit the crime.

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Paul Williams June 18 2014 at 8:07 AM

Best news I heard today. Two scumbags "ain't dere no mo'."

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1 reply
jimmy.zucco Paul Williams June 18 2014 at 2:17 PM


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boller123 June 18 2014 at 10:43 AM

There are "slam-dunk" murder cases where there is no doubt about guilt, especially the more hineous ones. The death penalty should be used accordingly, and within a reasonable time-frame. The deterant value of it is also important to prevent future such crimes. But the liberal hypocrasy here is amazing: no problem executing innocent babies in the womb, but animals like this are supposed to be given a pass. "Rehabilitation" is an excuse, not a reality; recidivist rates prove that.

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1 reply
judyz83 boller123 June 18 2014 at 12:33 PM

I agree. When they talk about these people are mentally ill? Possibly? What about the real people that suffer from mental problems, emotional there is such a stigmatism on them.

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stephencbabcock June 18 2014 at 7:44 AM

All this talk about Drugs... has anybody thought to use Helium? The body cannot tell the difference betweeen helium and oxygen... they just go to sleep in 15 mins ... dead in 25... very peaceful. This is what people use to commit suicide. cheap, readily available. The body runs out of oxygen.

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10 replies
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