America

Ga., Mo. Inmates Put To Death; First Since Botched Oklahoma Execution

This post was updated at 1:30 a.m. ET Wednesday:

A Missouri inmate has been put to death for killing two St. Louis County women in 1996, marking the state's fifth execution this year, according to The Associated Press.

A corrections spokesman told the AP that John Winfield died early Wednesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre.

Winfield's execution came shortly after convicted killer Marcus Wellons was put to death in Georgia. That execution was the first in the nation since April's botched execution in Oklahoma raised additional concerns about lethal injection.

Florida is scheduled to carryout an execution later on Wednesday.

This post was updated at 12:16 a.m. ET Wednesday:

A Georgia inmate convicted of rape and murder has become the first person to be executed in the U.S. since the botched lethal injection of a prisoner in Oklahoma in April, according to The Associated Press.

Marcus Wellons, 59, was executed by injection Tuesday night after last-minute appeals were denied. Officials say there were no noticeable complications during the procedure.

This post was updated at 7:40 p.m. ET.

Georgia, Florida and Missouri are planning the first executions since Oklahoma botched one back in May.

Georgia is set to execute Marcus Wellons on Tuesday night. Florida is scheduled to execute John Ruthell Henry, a convicted triple murderer, on Wednesday night. A federal judge in Missouri had temporarily halted the execution of John Winfield, but the 8th Circuit reversed the stay and he is now expected to be executed at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday.

Georgia Public Broadcasting reports that Wellons, who was convicted of raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl, would be the first inmate put to death using a new, secret source of lethal injection drugs. GPB adds:

"Lawyers need to know where the drugs are coming from, said Jen Moreno, staff attorney for the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and consultant for Wellons' defense team.

" 'To ensure that drugs are coming from sources that are legitimate, and that they're manufactured in ways that ensure that the drugs are what they say they are, and they're going to act in the manner that they need to act to ensure that the execution is carried out in a manner that comports with the Constitution,' she said.

" Wellons' attorneys will appear before a federal court in Atlanta Monday, arguing that the secrecy amounts to a violation of their clients' civil rights."

Oklahoma's botched execution of Clayton Lockett has revived a national debate on the death penalty generally but also renewed a focus on the drug shortage that is affecting the country. As we've explained in the past, drug companies, citing political and physical threats, have stopped supplying states with traditional execution drugs. States, therefore, have turned to novel combinations for executions and have refused to reveal the names of their suppliers out fear that doing so would jeopardize the relationship.

The AP reports that because of the Lockett execution, many will be watching the upcoming executions closely. The wire service adds that nine different executions have been stayed or postponed since then.

The AP notes that Georgia uses a single drug — pentobarbital — for the killing; Florida uses a three-drug combination of midazolam hydrochloride, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.