Inmates Put to Death for First Time Since Botched Execution [Updated]

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Photo: Lucinda Devlin/Galerie m Bochum

After a seven-week hiatus following the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, executions resumed in the United States on Tuesday night. The execution of Marcus Wellons, 59, who was convicted of raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl in 1989, was delayed by several hours as Georgia officials waited for a decision from the United States Supreme Court on Wellons's request for a stay of execution. Wellons's lawyers challenged the state's lethal-injection secrecy law, which protects details about the producers and suppliers of lethal injection drugs as a "confidential state secret." "The Eighth Amendment protects Mr. Wellons from cruel and unusual punishment," the appeal said. "But it is a hollow right unless it can be enforced prospectively."

Wellons was given a single drug, the sedative pentobarbital, and pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "He was seen to exhale a couple of times before his body seemed to quiver and then there was no more movement."

Missouri inmate John Winfield, who shot his ex-girlfriend and killed two of her friends in 1996, was put to death early on Wednesday morning. The New York Times reports that he "took four or five deep breaths as the drug was injected, puffed his cheeks twice and then fell silent, all in a matter of a few seconds." Winfield was pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m.

Convicted killer John Ruthell Henry is scheduled to be put to death in Florida later on Wednesday.

This post has been updated with new information about Winfield's execution.