John R. Henry's death was the third U.S. execution since a botched
injection in Oklahoma in April renewed a national debate over
Henry, 63, who previously served seven years for manslaughter in the
slaying of his common-law wife, was pronounced dead at 7:43 p.m. He
asked forgiveness of his victims' families and Jesus Christ in a
brief final statement, the state Department of Corrections said.
Henry's attorneys sought to have him declared mentally unfit for
execution, but the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his last round of
Henry met with relatives and a Catholic spiritual adviser before
declining his last meal on Wednesday, according to Jessica Cary,
spokeswoman for the corrections department.
He was condemned for fatally stabbing his wife, Suzanne Henry, at
her home in Zephyrhills a few days before Christmas 1985. He then
abducted her son by a previous relationship, Eugene Christian, and
stabbed the boy to death with the same knife several hours later.
Two convicted killers, one in Georgia and the other in Missouri,
were put to death less than a day earlier.
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 on Tuesday night by
injection. The procedure went smoothly, a state corrections official
A little more than an hour later at a state prison in Missouri, John
Winfield, 46, met the same fate for killing two women and leaving
his ex-girlfriend blind and disfigured in a 1996 rampage.
[to top of second column]
The cases of Wellons and Winfield were the first executions since
killer and rapist Clayton Lockett died on April 29 in a mishandled
execution in Oklahoma that sparked an uproar among death penalty
Lockett suffered an apparent heart attack and died about 30 minutes
after prison officials halted his execution because of problems
administering the 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 medication.
Henry's death brought the number of executions in the United States
this year to 23.
(Reporting by David Beasley in Atlanta, Carey Gillam in Kansas City,
Missouri and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Writing by Bill Cotterell
and Steve Gorman; Editing by David Adams, Bill Trott and Peter
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.