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Saturday February 6th, 2016 4:21AM

Wellons executed just before midnight

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) Georgia has executed a man convicted of raping and killing his 15-year-old neighbor. <br /> <br /> Marcus Wellons, 59, was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. Tuesday at the state prison in Jackson. He was convicted and sentenced to die in 1993 for the 1989 death of India Roberts, who was a high school sophomore in the suburbs of Atlanta. Authorities say Wellons raped and strangled the teen. <br /> <br /> Here are five things to know about this execution: <br /> <br /> FIRST SINCE BOTCHED EXECUTION IN OKLAHOMA: Wellons' execution was the first in the U.S. since the botched execution of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett on April 29. Lockett's vein collapsed and he died of a heart attack 43 minutes later, even though the execution itself had been halted. Several executions have been put on hold since then. Wellons' execution was set to be quickly followed by two others. John Winfield faced execution one minute after midnight Wednesday in Missouri, and John Ruthell Henry's execution is scheduled for Wednesday night in Florida. <br /> <br /> FIRST IN GEORGIA IN OVER A YEAR: Wellons was the first inmate executed in Georgia since February 2013, when Andrew Allen Cook was executed for the killing of two college students in 1995. Another death row inmate, Warren Lee Hill, was scheduled to be executed last July, but his execution was halted after his lawyers challenged a 2013 state law that prohibits the release of any identifying information about any entity involved in an execution. It was the third time Hill had come within hours of being executed before courts intervened. <br /> <br /> GEORGIA'S EXECUTION METHOD: Georgia switched in July 2012 from a three-drug combination for executions to a single drug method using the sedative pentobarbital. Like many other states, Georgia has had trouble obtaining execution drugs in recent years because major drug makers many based in Europe where opposition to capital punishment is strong began refusing to sell their products if they were to be used in an execution. The Georgia Department of Corrections confirmed that it got the pentobarbital for Wellons' execution from a compounding pharmacy, but the agency won't name the pharmacy, citing the 2013 execution participant secrecy law. <br /> <br /> LEGAL CHALLENGES: Wellons' lawyers filed various legal challenges and appeals seeking to halt his execution in the days leading up to it, but all were denied. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday denied him clemency. <br /> <br /> UNUSUAL APPEAL: Lawyers for Wellons argued in appeals for years that he didn't receive a fair trial because jurors sent raunchily shaped chocolates to the judge and bailiff either near the end of the sentencing phase or immediately after it. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in September 2012 ultimately rejected the appeal, saying it had been thoroughly considered by state and federal courts that had all concluded Wellons got a fair trial.
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