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.”