Georgia’s Ninth Execution This Year Leads the Nation

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Georgia executed William Sallie last night. He was the state’s ninth murderer put to death this year, more than any other state and the most in Georgia since capital punishment was reinstated more than 40 years ago, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It was a quiet end to the life of a man who went on a rampage one night in 1990, destroying the family of which he had been a part for years. Sallie, in the midst of a breakup with his wife and having just lost custody of his son, shot his father-in-law six times, killing him, shot his mother-in-law four times, and then abducted his wife and her sister, sexually assaulting both of them over a period of several hours.

The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously denied Sallie’s request for a stay of execution yesterday. His lawyers then petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, which also refused to order a delay. He had repeatedly failed to get any court to consider his claim of juror bias, and on Monday, the State Board of Pardons and Paroles also rejected that argument. The juror issue never was argued in court because Sallie missed, by a few days, a critical deadline to bring that appeal. That deadline came at a time when Sallie did not have a lawyer. Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher wrote an op-ed in the New York Times this week — “Georgia’s dangerous rush to execution” — in which he talked about problems in Georgia’s application of the death penalty. The state does not provide a lawyer to death row inmates after their initial round of appeals is exhausted.

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