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Lethal Injections Resume in America, Georgia Man First Set to Die

A convicted rapist and murder is set to die tonight in Georgia, the nation’s first test of lethal injection since the botched execution of Clayton Lockett.

Marcus Wellons, age 58, was sentenced to death in 1989 for the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl. He had applied for clemency, but it was denied.

Using the recent botched execution of Clayton Lockett, his lawyers had also argued that his execution constituted cruel and unusual punishment because he was not allowed to know the exact source of the massive dose of pentabarbital as well as the qualifications of those set to insert the IV catheter used to insert the drugs.

The concern has some validity. In Lockett’s case, it was the executioner’s inability to correctly place the IV catheter that caused his prolonged death after the drugs leaked painfully into the muscle. In other botched cases, executioners also misplaced IVs or were unable to find a vein, at one point poking a condemned man for two hours before the execution was called off.

“This is not an abstract concern,” the lawyers wrote, using Lockett’s death as “the consequences of error in the placement of the intravenous lines during an execution.”

A recent Ohio execution, in which condemned inmate Dennis McGuire appeared to cough and choke on the gurney and took nearly 30 minutes to die, also highlighted the concern of using ‘secret’ drug cocktails.

In a 10-page ruling, however, Federal Judge Timothy C Batten, Jr. denied the condemned’s appeal, claiming that the Georgia State Department of Corrections had demonstrated a “compelling need” to keep drug manufacturers secret in order to ensure a continuing supply of the death drugs for future executions.

Batten also said that despite the recent Lockett case, Wellons’ lawyers concerns about the qualifications of the executioner and the inefficacy of the drugs was “pure speculation.”

Wellons’ lawyers have vowed to appeal Batten’s ruling, however, barring a last minute reprieve Wellons will likely die tonight at 7 pm.

Photo Credit: Police File Photo (Wellons)

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.