Georgia Killer Put To Death In First Execution Since Botched Lethal Injection

Marcus Wellons’ execution on Tuesday was the first in the U.S. since Oklahoma’s botched lethal injection in April. The 11th Circuit denied his stay request, as did the Supreme Court.

1. Update: Marcus Wellons was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m., a corrections official told the Associated Press.

Wellons was executed by lethal injection without any noticeable complications, the AP said. It was the first time Georgia used a single large dose of pentobarbital, a sedative, obtained from a compounding pharmacy for an execution.

3. Wellons, 59, convicted of raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl in 1989, was initially scheduled to be executed in Georgia on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.

AP Photo/Georgia Department of Law Enforcement

4. Update — 10:38 p.m.: The Supreme Court denied Wellons’ three requests to stay the execution, meaning, absent a further request or order, Georgia officials are free to proceed with the execution:

7. Update — 12:15 a.m., June 18: The scene outside the prison after the execution:

Witnesses to Marcus Wellons execution say it took a long time, but nothing seemed to go wrong. One twitch. @gpbnews

— Adam Ragusea (@aragusea)

8. Original story:

If Marcus Wellons’ execution goes forward, he will be the first inmate put to death in the U.S. since Oklahoma’s botched execution in April. Wellons was denied clemency by the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday. Later that day, a federal judge also denied Wellons’ request for a stay of execution.

Hours before the state is scheduled to kill him for the murder and rape of India Roberts, Wellons’ lawyers filed an appeal at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to stay the execution on the grounds that the state’s refusal to disclose details about its lethal injection drugs violates his constitutional rights.

In 2013, Georgia’s governor signed into law a bill that classified all information about people or entities who manufactured, supplied, and compounded drugs as a “confidential state secret” that could not be disclosed even under judicial process.

Wellons’ lawyers have argued that their client’s Eighth Amendment rights, which protect him from cruel and unusual punishment, would be violated if the state did not disclose the name of the compounding pharmacy that supplied the custom-mixed pentobarbital to be used in his execution. They also said Wellons has a right to know the qualifications of the officials responsible for carrying out the execution. The appeal highlights the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma which occurred because of the improper placement of the IV line in Lockett’s veins.

Wellons could become the first man to be executed in Georgia since the state’s new secrecy law. It will also be the first time the state uses a single large dose of pentobarbital obtained from a compounding pharmacy for an execution.

In his Monday ruling denying the stay of execution, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr. said the State Department of Corrections had a “compelling need” to keep the drugs used a secret due to the shortage of drugs it might have faced otherwise. He said the state “acted in good faith” when it chose the company that produced pentobarbital and in appointing the execution team. He also said that Wellons’ concerns about the pentobarbital and the person placing the intravenous lines into him amounted to “mere speculation.”

9. Wellons’ request at the 11th Circuit:

11. Georgia’s response:

14. Update — 6:25 p.m.: A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit denied the stay request.

15. Judge Charles Wilson agreed that no stay should be granted, but was critical of Georgia’s secrecy law:

16. Read the full opinion:

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17. Update — 7:20 p.m.: Marcus Wellons has a petition for a stay of execution before Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas:

18. Read the Supreme Court stay request:

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19. Here’s the Wellons petition for certiorari, asking the Supreme Court to hear his case:

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20. Update — 8:05 p.m.: Georgia filed its opposition to Wellons’s request for Supreme Court review and asked the court to deny the stay request:

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21. Update — 8:35 p.m.: Lawyers for Wellons file their reply to the state’s opposition:

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22. Update — 8:15 p.m.: Wellons’ lawyers filed a second stay request at the Supreme Court, appealing the Georgia Supreme Court’s stay denial:

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23. Update — 8:25 p.m.: Georgia officials oppose the second stay request:

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24. Update — 8:50 p.m.: Wellons’s lawyers filed a third request for a stay and a second certiorari petition, relating to the clemency process.

25. Update — 10:30 p.m.: Georgia officials opposed the clemency-related cert and stay petitions.

26. Update — 11:10 p.m.: Awaiting word on the execution from Georgia:

SCOTUS refuses to intervene for Marcus Wellons, likely won't be long now. Protesters wait in the dark. @gpbnews

— Adam Ragusea (@aragusea)

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Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at
Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at
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