Florida Carries Out U.S.’s Third Execution in 24 Hours

This undated photo made available by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows John Ruthell Henry. (Florida Department of Law Enforcement/Associated Press)
This undated photo made available by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement shows John Ruthell Henry. (Florida Department of Law Enforcement/Associated Press)

Three states, three convicted killers, three executions in a row.

On Wednesday, Florida became the third state in 24 hours to execute an inmate on death row, signaling that capital punishment in the U.S. was clear to continue with the Supreme Court’s blessing after a botched execution in Oklahoma in April brought widespread criticism and scrutiny to the practice.

John Ruthell Henry, 63, who had been sentenced to death after killing his wife and her 5-year-old son in 1985, died Wednesday evening after receiving a three-drug lethal injection at the Florida State Prison in Raiford.

His death came shortly after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas denied Henry’s appeal for a stay of execution Wednesday. Henry, who once scored 78 on an IQ test, had argued that he was too mentally disabled to be executed.

Henry’s own attorney of several years, Baya Harrison III, told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that the mental-disability claim was a bit of a stretch, given that Henry was prone to writing elaborate, “very kind-of-intelligent” letters to judges about his case.

“He’s killing me with these very well-written letters quoting the Constitution and things of that nature. I’m sitting here saying, ‘John, for God’s sake!'” Harrison told The Times in an interview before Henry’s execution. “It is what it is. He’s a human being, he’s entitled to say what he wants to say. I’ve never tried to shut him up.”

Harrison added: “This guy does not want to die. … [But] frankly, I’ve done everything I can.”

As with Henry’s lethal injection, this week’s executions of Marcus Wellons, 59, in Georgia, and of John Winfield, 46, in Missouri, came with the explicit approval of several high courts and public officials.

Until Wellons, there had been no executions in the U.S. since the gruesome execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma in April, which lasted more than 40 minutes after an executioner apparently failed to properly insert a needle into a vein in Lockett’s groin.

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SOURCE: MATT PEARCE 
The Los Angeles Times

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