Georgia executed a convicted murderer Tuesday, the first person to be put to death in the United States since the Supreme Court ended a de facto moratorium on capital punishment last month.
Witnesses said William Earl Lynd died by lethal injection at a prison in Jackson, in central Georgia, at 7:51 p.m. ET. He was convicted of killing his girlfriend, 26-year-old Ginger Moore, shooting her three times in the face and head nearly 20 years ago.
The Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday had denied Lynd's request for a stay of execution, paving the way for him to become the first inmate in the nation to face execution since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that lethal injection is constitutional.
The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles had also rejected Lynd's bid for clemency. Lynd's lawyer, Tom Dunn, had asked Georgia's top court to grant a stay so it could consider new forensic evidence. The court was unanimous in rejecting Lynd's appeal.
Not trying to be first, governor says
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue said the U.S. Supreme Court made the right decision on lethal injection but that the state had not rushed to be the first out of the gate.
"It was not something we wanted to necessarily be first at. It was just the fact that this had been there," Perdue said at a state Capitol news conference.
The Supreme Court ruled last month in a Kentucky case that the state's method of executing inmates with a three-drug cocktail did not violate the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Roughly three dozen states, including Georgia, use a similar method.
Soon after the ruling, prosecutors in several of those states quickly moved to schedule executions that had been delayed as the court reviewed the issue. Besides Georgia, Mississippi on Monday scheduled an execution for later this month, while Texas announced plans to put a Mexican-born prisoner to death in August.
Lynd, 53, was sentenced to die for kidnapping and shooting Moore in south Georgia in 1988, after the two consumed Valium, marijuana and alcohol. Prosecutors said she suffered a slow, agonizing death, regaining consciousness twice after being shot in the head.
Texas carried out the nation's last execution, putting Michael Richard to death on Sept. 25, 2007, the same day the Supreme Court agreed to consider the Kentucky case. The Kentucky case was brought by two prisoners who claimed the lethal injection method violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.