Sadie Gray and agencies guardian.co.uk,
Wednesday May 7 2008
The state of Georgia has executed the first person to be put to death in the United States since a Supreme Court ruling last month that ended a seven-month moratorium on capital punishment.
William Earl Lynd, 53, was killed by lethal injection at 7.50pm yesterday, hours after his appeal for a stay of execution failed in the Supreme Court.
Lynd had been convicted of kidnapping his girlfriend and shooting her dead in 1988, after a row over a trip to Florida.
Executions were effectively brought to a halt across the US in September, when the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal by two death row inmates in Kentucky, who argued that death by lethal injection violated the US constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual" punishment.
However, on April 16, the court ruled by seven votes to two that lethal injection was legal under the constitution.
The method, used in 37 states, relies on three drugs to anaesthetise, paralyse and stop the heart of the prisoner. Opponents argue that if the first drug is administered incorrectly, the following two can cause excruciating pain, while rendering the prisoner incapable of communicating.
Since the court ruling, several states including Texas and Virginia have scheduled executions.
Demonstrating outside the prison in Jackson where Lynd died, Laura Moye, of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said: "It's sad that the state of Georgia has put someone to death and is leading the United States in the resumption of executions. It is said it is a resumption of justice, but instead we are being brutalised."
Lynd never denied killing his girlfriend, Ginger Moore, 26, two days before Christmas 1998. He shot her twice in the head and stuffed her into the boot of his car. He confessed to killing her finally with a third shot when he heard her "thumping around", the prosecution said.
He was also alleged to have shot dead another woman who had stopped at the roadside to help him as he fled to Ohio, but he was never convicted of that killing.
His lawyers, arguing in the Supreme Court for a stay of execution, said new forensic evidence showed that Moore was in fact already dead when he put her in the boot, so he could not have kidnapped her – the aggravating feature that made him eligible for death row.
The court rejected the application and an hour later, Lynd was dead.
He became the 1,100th person to be put to death since the Supreme Court lifted a temporary ban on capital punishment in 1976. Since then, Texas has had 405 executions, followed by Virginia with 98.
In 2005, the most recent year for which figures are available, 128 people were sentenced to death.
Amnesty International issued a report this week that ranked the United States fifth in the world in the number of executions carried out in 2007 (42), behind China (470), Iran (317), Saudi Arabia (143) and Pakistan (135). These five countries accounted for 88% of all known executions
Click to view image: '179857-lynd2.jpg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|