J.W. Ledford had spent about a quarter of a century on death row after he was found guilty of cutting the throat of a 73-year-old doctor during a robbery in 1992.
According to court records concerning the 1992 murder, Ledford stabbed Johnston several times, with one wound to his neck nearly decapitating the physician.
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles in Georgia also rejected an appeal for leniency requested by Ledford. Bernadette Naro speaks out against the death penalty while opponents protest the planned execution of J.W. Ledford Jr. for the 1992 murder of his elderly neighbor at the State Capitol on Tuesday, Ma.
The 45-year-old inmate was convicted of murder in the January 1992 stabbing death of Dr. Harry Johnston in Murray County, northwest Georgia. His lawyers had asked for clemency, arguing that he had an intellectual disability, had gone through a hard childhood, and struggled with substance abuse from an early age, but that request was denied Monday.
A convicted murderer who was executed in Georgia early Wednesday morning quoted from the movie "Cool Hand Luke" before getting a lethal injection of compounded barbiturate pentobarbital.
Ledford's lawyers argued the prescription drug gabapentin he uses to treat chronic nerve pain will cause pentobarbital to be ineffective.
"His son says that when he finally asked his father if he did what they said, his father looked him straight in the eye and said, 'yes, ' and that he was sorry and when you take a man's life you can never give it back".
Updated at 11:28 p.m. CST to show U.S. Supreme Court had not ruled on request for stay more than five hours after scheduled execution time. Ledford's counsel argued that lethal injection would violate constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment because Ledford has been taking a prescribed drug that would prevent the lethal injection protocol from operating as intended. Supreme Court denied a last-minute stay of execution.
However, Georgia attorney general's office rejected Ledford Jr.'s request stating there was no proof that a firing squad would be less painful and also pointing out that the timing of his request was too close to the day of the execution.
A grinning death row inmate in the U.S. state of Georgia used his final words at his execution to insult the witnesses.
Ledford's lawyers are arguing he was only 20 and his brain wasn't done developing when he killed Johnston.
Georgia executed nine men a year ago, more than any other state.