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Lethal Injection

Georgia Executes Convicted Killer, 1st Execution by State This Year

Georgia has carried out its first execution of the year, putting to death a man who fatally stabbed his neighbor 25 years ago.

Image: J.W. Ledford Jr
Georgia death row inmate J.W. Ledford Jr. is seen In this image released by the Georgia Department of Corrections. File Georgia Department of Correction / AP

Authorities say 45-year-old J.W. Ledford Jr. was pronounced dead at 1:17 a.m. Wednesday at the state prison in Jackson. He was convicted of murder in the January 1992 stabbing death of his 73-year-old neighbor, Dr. Harry Johnston, near his home in northwest Georgia.

According to court filings, Ledford told police he stabbed Johnston after the older man accused him of stealing and they got in an argument. Ledford told police he then hid Johnston's body and robbed Johnston's wife at knifepoint.

Ledford's attorneys had argued execution by Georgia's lethal injection drug was likely to cause him extreme pain in violation of his constitutional rights. They had suggested using a firing squad instead, but that's not allowed under Georgia law.