The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

June 18, 2014

1st US executions since botched lethal injection

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Georgia and Missouri have carried out the nation's first executions since a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma in April revived concerns about capital punishment.

Neither execution had any noticeable complications. Another execution, the third in a 24-hour span, is scheduled for Wednesday evening in Florida.

Georgia inmate Marcus Wellons, 59, who was convicted in the 1989 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl, received a single-drug injection late Tuesday night after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his late appeals. About an hour later, John Winfield, 46, was executed in Bonne Terre, Missouri. Winfield was convicted in the 1996 killing of two women.

Nine executions nationwide have been stayed or postponed since late April, when Oklahoma prison officials halted the execution of Clayton Lockett after noting that the lethal injection drugs weren't being administered into his vein properly. Lockett died of a heart attack several minutes later.

Georgia, Missouri and Florida all refuse to say where they obtain their drugs, or if they are tested. Lawyers for Wellons and Winfield had challenged the secretive process used by some states to obtain lethal injection drugs from unidentified, loosely regulated compounding pharmacies.

Georgia and Missouri both use the single drug pentobarbital, a sedative. Florida uses a three-drug combination of midazolam hydrochloride, vecuronium bromide and potassium chloride.

In Georgia, Wellons lay still with his eyes closed as the drugs were administered at a prison in Jackson. Minutes into the procedure, he took some heavy breaths and blew air out through his lips as if snoring. There was no visible movement minutes later. Wellons was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

Winfield took four or five deep breaths as the drug was injected at 12:01 a.m. CDT Wednesday, puffed his cheeks twice and then fell silent, all in a matter of seconds. He was pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m. CDT, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Public Safety said. Before his execution, Wellons said he hoped his death would bring peace to the family of India Roberts, a teen neighbor whom he raped and murdered in suburban Atlanta in 1989.

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