by: Carl Willis Updated:
Representatives with the Georgia Department of Corrections say the execution of condemned killer Marcus Wellons, 59, was carried out at 10:41 p.m. Tuesday night. His time of death was 11:56 p.m. Witnesses believe the first drugs were administered around 11:30 p.m.
Execution witness and AJC Reporter Rhonda Cook says Wellons apologized to the victim's family and asked for a prayer.
In 1993, a Cobb County jury sentenced Wellons to death for the rape and murder of 15-year-old India Roberts in the Vinings townhouse of Wellons’ girlfriend. Wellons was supposed to be moving out of the townhouse when he abducted India as she was walking to her school bus stop the morning of Aug. 31, 1989. She was believed to have been strangled with a telephone cord.
Wellons never denied committing the crimes.
Still, protesters including members of the Episcopal church, showed up to protest Wellons' execution.
"Two wrongs don't make a right," said Rev. Joseph Shippen of Macon's Christ Episcopal Church. "We can't make this right by killing someone who killed."
"Our hearts break for this family who has to relive this, but there is no redemption in this," said Bishop Robert Wright of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.
Beyond that debate was the issue of the drugs used in the lethal injection, a massive dose of pentobarbital.
"It's a compounded drug which means it's made one dose at a time," said Cook. "There's no way to know the quality of it or what circumstances it was made under because Georgia law now also makes that a secret."
The concern on the part of Wellons' attorneys is that it's unknown if the drug could cause pain that rises to cruel and unusual punishment.
"That would be a violation of his eighth amendment protection, but by then it's too late to remedy the situation," said Cook. She said she noticed Wellons twitch a little. She also said that his death seemed to take a bit longer than previous executions.
Witnesses said they could hear Wellons humming during his final moments and that he said he was going home to Jesus.
Unexpectedly, an officer in the execution chamber fainted.
"I've never seen an officer pass out. Never seen staff have a reaction," Cook said.
Earlier, the Cobb County District Attorney said he was focused on the victim's family.
"I'm hoping and praying that it brings some closure and peace to that family," said Vic Reynolds.