US carries out first executions since botched lethal injection
ATLANTA // Two convicted murderers, one in Georgia and the other in Missouri, were put to death barely an hour apart in the first US 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 neighbour he abducted while she was walking to her school bus stop, was executed by lethal injection at 11:56pm 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 rampage.
In both cases, the executions proceeded shortly after the US 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 medication.
Even the White House criticised the bungled execution as failing to adhere to humane standards.
Updated: June 18, 2014 04:00 AM