ATLANTA (Reuters) - Georgia executed a man on Thursday convicted of killing his parents and sister, and his lethal injection was filmed in compliance with a court order prompted by concerns about one of the drugs used.
Andrew Grant DeYoung, 37, was pronounced dead at 8:04 p.m. local time, Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kristen Stancil said.
DeYoung was convicted of fatally stabbing his parents and 14-year-old sister in their suburban Atlanta home in 1993. According to court documents, he had hoped to inherit his parents’ estimated $480,000 estate and start a business.
“He looked like he went right to sleep,” said Jon Gillooly, a Marietta Daily Journal reporter and media witness to the execution, adding that DeYoung displayed no unusual movements during the execution.
His last words were “I’m sorry to anyone I ever hurt,” Gillooly said.
A judge had ordered the execution filmed after lawyers for another death row inmate raised concerns about Georgia’s lethal injection process, and the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the order, citing procedural errors in the state’s appeal.
Attorneys for death row inmates have argued that pentobarbital, one of the three drugs Georgia uses in lethal injections, causes “needless suffering.”
DeYoung’s execution was likely the first to be filmed in the United States since 1992, said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.
The execution had initially been scheduled for Wednesday night, but corrections officials postponed it until Thursday.
Georgia attorneys had argued videotaping would interfere with security measures and raised concerns about the potential for sensationalism and abuse of the videotape. The judge’s order required the tape be sealed.
The state also took issue with the judge’s decision to allow experts to be present during the execution to witness DeYoung’s “physiological responses” to the drugs, saying that might conflict with state law over who witnesses executions.
Georgia first used pentobarbital, a sedative often used to euthanize animals, for the June 23 execution of Roy Blankenship.
A reporter who witnessed that execution said Blankenship “jerked his head several times throughout the procedure and muttered after the pentobarbital was injected into his veins,” according to court documents filed by DeYoung’s attorneys.
Attorneys for the state said the execution protocol requires a nurse and warden to examine the inmate after pentobarbital is administered to make sure he is unconscious before administering the second drug, pancuronium bromide.
Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center said videotaping the execution was a good idea. The only other instance of recording he was aware of occurred in California in 1992 as part of a challenge against the gas chamber. He could not say whether prisons film executions for their own use.
“There are a lot of challenges with what’s happening with lethal injections,” he said. “Basically it’s an experiment going on in each state.”
“I do think having advanced scientific record of them is certainly appropriate.”
DeYoung was the 29th person executed in the United States this year. There were 46 executions in 2010.
Stancil said his last meal was the regular prison fare: chicken, rice, peas, carrots, collard greens and a brownie.
Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Greg McCune and Cynthia Johnston