Three executions across US South mark first since Oklahoma bungle

A man convicted of killing his wife and her 5-year-old son nearly 30 years ago was executed in Florida on Wednesday, the third person to die by lethal injection in 24 hours in the US.

Phil Sandlin
Joan Careford of England watches Florida State Prison for signs that the execution of her friend John Russell Henry has been carried out.

A man convicted of killing his wife and her 5-year-old son nearly 30 years ago was executed at Florida State Prison on Wednesday, the third person to die by lethal injection in 24 hours across the U.S. South.

John R. Henry's death was the third U.S. execution since a botched injection in Oklahoma in April renewed a national debate over capital punishment.

Henry, 63, who previously served seven years for manslaughter in the slaying of his common-law wife, was pronounced dead at 7:43 p.m. He asked forgiveness of his victims' families and Jesus Christ in a brief final statement, the state Department of Corrections said.

Henry's attorneys sought to have him declared mentally unfit for execution, but the U.S. Supreme Courtrejected his last round of appeals.

Henry met with relatives and a Catholic spiritual adviser before declining his last meal on Wednesday, according to Jessica Cary, spokeswoman for the corrections department.

He was condemned for fatally stabbing his wife, Suzanne Henry, at her home in Zephyrhills a few days before Christmas 1985. He then abducted her son by a previous relationship, Eugene Christian, and stabbed the boy to death with the same knife several hours later.

Two convicted killers, one in Georgia and the other in Missouri, were put to death less than a day earlier.

Georgia inmate Marcus Wellons, 58, convicted of the 1989 rape and strangulation of a 15-year-old neighbor he abducted while she was walking to her school bus stop, was executed on Tuesday night by injection. The procedure went smoothly, a state corrections official said.

A little more than an hour later at a state prison in Missouri, John Winfield, 46, met the same fate for killing two women and leaving his ex-girlfriend blind and disfigured in a 1996 rampage.

The cases of Wellons and Winfield were the first executions since killer and rapist Clayton Lockett died on April 29 in a mishandled execution in Oklahoma that sparked an uproar among death penalty opponents.

Lockett suffered an apparent heart attack and died about 30 minutes after prison officials halted his execution because of problems administering the injection. A preliminary autopsy released by his lawyers last week showed the state failed to properly insert an intravenous line to deliver the fatal dose of medication.

Henry's death brought the number of executions in the United States this year to 23.

(Reporting by David Beasley in Atlanta, Carey Gillam in Kansas City, Missouri and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Writing by Bill Cotterell and Steve Gorman; Editing by David Adams, Bill Trott and Peter Cooney)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.