Georgia executes Willie J. Pye for the 1993 murder of Alicia Lynn Yarbrough

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Willie James Pye, a Georgia man convicted and sentenced to death for the 1993 kidnapping, rape and murder of his ex-girlfriend, was executed Wednesday night at a Jackson prison, the Georgia Department of Corrections said in a statement. .

Pye’s execution was carried out by lethal injection at 11:03 p.m. and is the first in the state since 2020. It was carried out despite a series of last-minute legal challenges and a request for clemency to spare his life. Pye’s lawyers cited his client’s intellectual disability as a reason why the state should reconsider the execution. They also said Pye had been poorly represented in the initial trials that resulted in a death sentence.

The Supreme Court of the United States denied a request to stay the execution Wednesday night, and the Georgia parole board, which has the authority to grant clemency in a death penalty case in the state, denied a request for clemency on Tuesday.

Pye, 59, accepted a final sentence but did not record a final statement before he was executed, said Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lori Benoit. On the day of his execution he was visited by six relatives, a clergyman and a lawyer.

Georgia uses the sedative pentobarbital in lethal injections, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Nathan Potek, one of Pye’s attorneys, said in an emailed statement that Pye’s initial attorney, the late Johnny B. Mostiler, was “racist and incompetent.” Georgia also insisted on executing Pye despite his “lifelong intellectual disability and the fact that he poses no danger to anyone in prison,” Potek wrote.

Pye had been assessed to have an IQ of 70, court documents show.

Mostiler, who handled 900 cases a year as the sole public defender in Spalding County, Georgia, died in 2000 of a heart attack at the age of 53, according to an obituary that described him as a “rough talker and chain smoker.” ” lawyer who “delivered a case every 100 minutes, less time than a private attorney could spend on a simple traffic violation.”

Pye had been in a “sporadic romantic relationship” with Alicia Lynn Yarbrough before her murder, according to court documents. On the night of November 16, 1993, Pye and two accomplices, Chester Adams and Anthony Freeman, conspired to rob Yarbrough, who at the time was living with another man, and their newborn, whom Pye believed was her child.

Wearing ski masks, they kicked open the door to Yarbrough’s home after realizing only Yarbrough and her baby were there. Then they pointed a gun at her. “After determining that there was no money in the house, she took a ring and necklace from Ms. Yarbrough and kidnapped her, leaving the baby in the house,” according to court documents.

They then took her to a motel and raped her. After attempting to remove her fingerprints from the scene, she was taken to the side of a road, where Pye ordered her to lie face down and shot her three times. Pye and her accomplice drove away, throwing their masks and weapons out of the car along the way.

Pye claimed during court hearings that Yarbrough voluntarily came to the motel room that night to exchange sex for cocaine. The judges dismissed those claims, saying Pye’s claim was unreliable in part because it was based on inconsistent witness testimony.

Georgia suspended executions after January 2020 due to coronavirus pandemic. The state has 35 men and one woman on death row, according to its corrections department.

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