First Ga. execution with new drug combination set

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ATLANTA -- A death row inmate convicted of the 1978 slaying of an elderly woman in Savannah could be the first person in Georgia put to death under a new three-drug execution cocktail.



A judge set the execution date for Roy Willard Blankenship between June 23 and June 30.

The state in May swapped pentobarbital for sodium thiopental, a sedative that is in scarce supply nationwide. Georgia was forced to make the move after it surrendered its supply of sodium thiopental to the Drug Enforcement Administration amid questions about how the state obtained its supply.

Blankenship was originally set to die in February for the murder of 78-year-old Sarah Mims Bowen, who died of heart failure after she was raped in her Savannah apartment. But the Georgia pardons board delayed the execution to give authorities more time to do DNA testing on the victim's remains.

Defense attorney Brian Kammer said the tests were inconclusive.

Blankenship's attorneys also sought to delay the execution by claiming in a federal lawsuit that Georgia's stockpile of sodium thiopental had expired and that using outdated drugs may cause excruciating pain. A judge rejected the claim, and the argument is moot now that Georgia switched drugs.

At Blankenship's trial, he testified that he broke into Bowen's apartment after a drinking binge, tried and failed to rape her and then bolted when she appeared to wake up.

His defense attorneys said Blankenship was in the apartment but that evidence suggests another man killed her. But prosecutors said Blankenship confessed to the killings two weeks after the death. They also matched his blood samples and seminal fluid to the killing, and police said they were able to trace footsteps from Bowen's place to the area where Blankenship lived across the street.

Blankenship was convicted in a 1980 trial and sentenced to death, but that penalty and another issued two years later were overturned on appeal. At his third sentencing trial in 1986, he was again sentenced to die. But that time, state and federal courts upheld the capital sentence.

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Fiat_Lux
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Fiat_Lux 06/06/11 - 07:44 pm
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So this guy has been on death

So this guy has been on death row for approximately 30 years? This is sickening.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 06/06/11 - 08:55 pm
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"Justice delayed is justice

"Justice delayed is justice denied."

bclicious
756
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bclicious 06/07/11 - 05:04 am
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Alright, this is my take on

Alright, this is my take on the whole matter. I believe in the death penalty; however, this story is a strong example of how pursuing the death penalty is fruitless in our current system of criminal justice.

Too often, have I researched and read about cases throughout my law enforcement career and criminal justice studies where offenders who are convicted of capital offenses spend 10 years plus on death row. This is because of the appellates court. I know it sucks to take the chance of putting an innocent person to death, and I also understand that everyone is innocent until proven guilty; however, it seems to me that once a person has been found guilty in a court of law, that person should not be allowed to pursue an appeals process in excess of 5 years. I think that the only exception would be if there some kind of newly discovered evidence.

If everything I have said so far makes no sense, please understand that in our current criminal justice system, we are bleeding ourselves dry! Simply put, it costs more to pursue the death penalty, then it does to merely hand down a life sentence. Even if the state does achieve getting the offender a sentence of death, it is usually overturned, and all of the money that was spent trying to line the person up for death sentence is gone forever.

I hope you guys understand that I am for the death penalty, but against wasting money on something that is unlikely to be carried out.

dougk
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dougk 06/07/11 - 10:05 am
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good post, bclicious.
Unpublished

good post, bclicious.

realitycheck09
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realitycheck09 06/07/11 - 11:24 am
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bclicious - well thought

bclicious - well thought out.

The reason it takes so long is that appellate courts - like trial courts - are backed up.

It takes about 1 to 2 years after arrest for trial due to court back up. Then it takes 2-3 years to have the trial transcript ready and prepared for appeal to be heard. Then another 2-3 years to appeal to the next level court.

Then, someone is entitled to seek both state and federal habeas relief. So, in the best case it takes 10-15 years to carry out a death sentence.

I know some of you guys think this is too long to wait, but believe me: trial judges and juries mess up ALL THE TIME. We have to protect the rights of people even after appeal - even one wrong execution is too many.

Bclicious is right - our limited resources are better spent elsewhere than seeking the death penalty.

edubb
10
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edubb 06/08/11 - 09:26 am
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@ bclicious Your analogy is

@ bclicious

Your analogy is short sighted. Being found guilty does not mean your are in fact guilty. Why the time limit of 5 years vs making sure this person is not guilty? How many people have been rail roaded by attorneys, judges, and police who have an agenda like trying to get elected or make DA? Innocent people are freed from prison more often now that DNA evidence can certify innocence.

dougk
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dougk 06/08/11 - 11:46 am
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You are absolutely right,
Unpublished

You are absolutely right, too, edubb. But, sadly, I think it will be the cost that bclicious points out that will finally influence people who are aware to think about the utility of the punishment.

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