States Carry Out the First Executions Since Oklahoma's Botched Lethal Injection

After a brief delay, Georgia inmate Marcus Wellons was executed in Georgia on Tuesday night. 

This article is from the archive of our partner .


1:18 a.m.: John Winfield's execution has reportedly been carried out. He was pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m. CST.

12:06 a.m.: Marcus Wellons was executed just moments ago after the Supreme Court rejected his last-minute appeal. According to the Associated Press, one drug was used in the execution.

Also, hours ago, a three-judge panel decided against overturning Missouri inmate John Winfield's stay of execution, exhausting his options. Winfield will be executed  within the hour.

8:44 p.m.: The execution of Marcus Wellons has been delayed, albeit temporarily. Earlier this evening, the Georgia Supreme Court declined to stay his execution after Wellons challenged Georgia's lethal-injection secrecy law.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wellons "still has an appeal pending in the U.S. Supreme Court."

Original Post

Georgia inmate Marcus Wellons is scheduled to be executed at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday. It will be the first execution since Oklahoma botched the execution of Clayton Lockett at the end of April. As Reuters noted, Wellons's execution will also be the first in Georgia since the state's high court upheld a new secrecy law that classifies the identity of the manufacturers who provide the state with its execution drugs.

Wellons was sentenced to die in 1989 for the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl. As has been the case in many recent challenges to state executions, the issue here is not whether Wellons's crimes have earned the death penalty or not. The question is instead whether the state has conducted those executions — and will conduct that of Wellons — constitutionally. In Wellons's case, his legal team argued that the inmate has the right to know the identity of his killers, as well as the origin of the drugs used, under the 1st and 8th Amendments. In their complaint filed to a federal court, Wellons's lawyers wrote (via the Guardian):

"[only state officials] know exactly how they plan to execute Mr Wellons on Tuesday night … The simple truth about any drug is that unless you know how it was made –where, and from what and by whom – you cannot know what it is. Accordingly, the decision to use compounded pentobarbital from an undisclosed source poses a substantial threat of undue pain and suffering to Mr Wellons." 

Facing a drug shortage plaguing many active death penalty states, Georgia now uses a single dose of pentobarbital from an undisclosed compounding pharmacy. The method is relatively untested. Oklahoma used a different — but similarly secretive and untested — method to administer lethal injection drugs to Clayton Lockett. Preliminary findings into the widely-publicized botched execution indicate that the executioners failed to properly administer the drugs into Lockett's veins.

Meanwhile, Georgia isn't the only state starting up its capital punishment process again after the Oklahoma execution, as the AP reported. John Winfield is scheduled to die six hours later in Missouri at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, and Florida will kill John Ruthell Henry at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Both Florida and Missouri also have secrecy laws shielding information about the drugs and personnel used in the state's execution chambers from the public. Missouri's secrecy laws have prompted a lawsuit from the Guardian and the Associated Press.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.