JACKSON, Ga.- A 45-year-old convicted murderer was executed Tuesday night for the 1988 shotgun slaying of an Atlanta preschool teacher who was abducted after her car ran out of gas.
Emmanuel Hammond was put to death by injection at the state prison in Jackson after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-minute appeal. He was pronounced dead at 11:39 p.m.
Hammond did not make a final statement, but nodded when a chaplain prayed for his soul. After the injection was administered he nodded his head slowly and then shook his head, mouthing something inaudible while staring straight forward.
He was pronounced dead 13 minutes after the injection began.
His execution came amid a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental, a part of the three-drug cocktail used in Georgia's executions. His attorneys had sought time to gather more information on how the state obtained the drug, claiming in court filings it came from a "fly-by-night supplier operating from the back of a driving school in England."
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas delayed the execution briefly Tuesday night until the full court could consider Hammond's appeal. The appeal was rejected late Tuesday night in a one-page ruling.
All along, prosecutors urged judges to uphold the conviction of the man nicknamed "Demon."
27-year-old Julie Love was slain after her car ran out of gas as she was returning home from a "career chat" meeting with friends in north Atlanta. As the petite instructor walked down the road, Hammond, his girlfriend Janice Weldon and his 18-year-old cousin Maurice Porter drove past and offered help.
After she declined, telling the group she lived nearby, Hammond jumped out with a sawed-off shotgun and threw Love into the car.
They drove her to an elementary school in a rundown neighborhood, where Porter rifled through her purse and found a little cash and ATM cards. At gunpoint, Hammond forced Love to reveal her pin number. But she was so nervous she gave him the wrong number.
Hammond sent Porter and Weldon to withdraw money from her account. When Weldon realized they would be returning empty-handed, she told Porter: "Demon going to be mad," according to court records.
She was right. Hammond hit Love repeatedly with the gun barrel, and Porter pulled her aside and raped her. After a disgusted Weldon left, Hammond bound Love's hands, feet and neck with coat hangers and covered her in a blanket. She somehow managed to free her hands, yelling "Don't do it."
Then, Hammond marched Love into the woods. About three minutes later, Porter heard a gunshot and saw Hammond return with blood on his face. When Porter said to his cousin, "you didn't do what I think you did," Hammond's response was "had to."
Love's disappearance put her friends and family into a frenzy. Her fiance, Mark Kaplan, who had proposed just a week before she went missing, found her abandoned red Mustang and prodded police to launch an investigation. He made flyers, organized rallies and turned his home into a staging area for hundreds of volunteers.
It took almost a year for investigators to get a break in the case. In July 1989, after suffering a beating by Hammond, Weldon tipped police about Love. Officers outfitted her with a recording device and sent her to talk to Porter, who corroborated what she said.
Authorities arrested Porter and Hammond, and found Love's body in August 1989 about 30 yards from where Porter told them it would be.
Porter pleaded guilty to murder and rape and was sentenced to life in prison. Weldon was given immunity for her testimony.
Hammond's lawyers tried a new appeal strategy last week to delay the execution, saying they needed more time to investigate the state's supply of sodium thiopental, a lethal injection drug that's in short supply. They said in a hearing Monday that Georgia got the drug from Dream Pharma, a London-based company based in a driving school.
A Fulton County judge rejected the argument, saying Hammond had no evidence the drug was "adulterated or inferior." The Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday also denied appeals from Hammond that were based on where Georgia obtained its drug.
"We wouldn't allow a dying pet to be euthanized using drugs with such dubious origins," said Sara Totonchi of the Southern Center for Human Rights, which filed the lawsuit. "That Georgia would carry out its business of extinguishing a human life in this manner is outrageous and embarrassing."
Love's friends and family, meanwhile, are still trying to cope with her death. Roz Cohen, an administrator at The Epstein School, where Love worked, recalled a vivacious, energetic teacher whose life ended far too soon.
"She was so excited about her future," said Cohen. "A life, right at the beginning, was just cut short because she was at the wrong place at the wrong time."