In its first execution this year, Georgia today put to death J.W. “Boy” Ledford Jr. for the 1992 murder of his 73-year-old neighbor, Dr. Harry Johnston, the physician who delivered Ledford when he was born, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay of execution after midnight for Ledford, 45, clearing the way for the lethal injection. While Georgia executions are usually set for 7 p.m., the state does not proceed until all courts have weighed in, which usually puts the actual time of death well into the night and sometimes into the early morning hours of the next day.
On Monday the State Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Ledford’s clemency petition despite pleas from his mother, his six sisters and his son. Also on Monday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Ledford’s lethal injection challenge, in which he requested death by firing squad on the grounds that a lethal injection would subject him to too much pain. Ledford argued in legal motions that he was at risk of an excruciating death because the lethal injection drug would react badly to medication he has taken for a decade for chronic pain. He said death by firing squad would be more humane.