Missouri executions mark first since Oklahoma bungle
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[June 18, 2014]
(Reuters) - Two convicted murderers,
one in Georgia and the other in Missouri, were put to death barely an
hour apart in the first U.S. executions since a botched lethal injection
in Oklahoma in April renewed a national debate over capital punishment.
Georgia inmate Marcus Wellons, 58, convicted of the 1989 rape and
strangulation of a 15-year-old neighbor he abducted while she was
walking to her school bus stop, was executed by lethal injection at
11:56 p.m. local time.
State corrections spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan said Wellons made a
statement of apology and recited a short prayer just before his
execution at a prison intake facility in Jackson, Georgia. The
procedure went smoothly, she said.
A little more than an hour later at a Missouri state prison in Bonne
Terre, John Winfield, 46, met the same fate for killing two women
and leaving his ex-girlfriend blind and disfigured in a 1996
Winfield, who declined a final meal and made no last statement, was
pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m., Missouri Department of Public Safety
spokesman Mike O'Connell said.
In both cases, the executions proceeded shortly after the U.S.
Supreme Court denied multiple applications from the inmates seeking
11th-hour reprieves. A third inmate in Florida was due to be
executed on Wednesday.
The cases of Wellons and Winfield drew greater attention than most
as they were the first put to death since Oklahoma killer and rapist
Clayton Lockett died on April 29 in a mishandled execution that
sparked an uproar among opponents of the death penalty put a
spotlight on capital punishment.
Lockett suffered an apparent heart attack and died about 30 minutes
after Oklahoma prison officials had halted his execution because of
problems in administering the lethal injection. A preliminary
autopsy released by his lawyers last week showed the state failed to
properly insert an intravenous line to deliver the fatal dose of
Even the White House criticized the bungled execution as failing to
adhere to humane standards.
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Wellons was the first person executed in Georgia since the state's
Supreme Court upheld a law in May shielding the identity and methods
of pharmacies that make its lethal injection drugs.
Attorneys for the state said the execution protocol has not changed
since 2012, when Georgia switched from a three-drug cocktail to a
single drug, pentobarbital. Oklahoma used a new three-drug cocktail
for Lockett's execution.
In his appeal to the Supreme Court, Wellons' attorneys cited the
Oklahoma case to bolster their argument that Georgia had not
provided enough detail about the state's execution protocol.
Winfield's lawyers likewise argued in court filings that Missouri's
secrecy about where it gets its lethal injection drugs and how they
are made were grounds for a stay.
Wellons and Winfield brought the number of executions in the United
States this year to 22, according to the non-profit Death Penalty
(Reporting by David Beasley in Atlanta and Carey Gillam in Kansas
City, Mo.; Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson from Seattle;
Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Louise Ireland)
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