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US resumes executions after seven-month moratorium

Georgia put inmate William Lynd to death on Tuesday, ending a seven-month hiatus on executions in the United States following an appeal against the use of lethal injection, which was rejected by the Supreme Court .

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JACKSON, Ga., May 6 (Reuters) - Georgia executed a convicted murderer on Tuesday, the first person to be put to death in the United States since the Supreme Court ended a de facto moratorium on capital punishment last month.

 

William Earl Lynd died by lethal injection at a prison in Jackson, central Georgia, at 7:51 p.m. (2351 GMT). Lynd, 53, was convicted of shooting his girlfriend to death in December 1988.

 

“Under the order of the court, the execution of William Earl Lynd has been carried out,” said Paul Czachowski, public affairs manager at the Georgia Department of Corrections.

 

“The condemned declined to make a statement or offer a prayer,” he said, adding the execution began at 7:34 p.m.

 

In the hours before Lynd died, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a final request for a stay filed by his lawyers.

 

Lynd’s execution is the first since the same court on April 16 rejected a challenge to the cocktail of three drugs used in most U.S. executions, which opponents had argued inflicted unnecessary pain.

 

A nationwide pause in executions had been in effect since shortly after the court said on Sept. 25 it would hear an appeal by two death row inmates in Kentucky against the use of the lethal drugs.

 

Last year, 42 people were put to death in the United States, the lowest number since the 31 executions in 1994. But the 2007 number was artificially low because of the Supreme Court case.

 

Fewer than 20 protesters opposed to the death penalty demonstrated outside the prison in Jackson where Lynd was executed in an apparent indication that the subject arouses few passions.

 

Demonstrators said they also planned protests in five other cities in the state.

 

“It’s sad that the state of Georgia has put someone to death and is leading the United States in the resumption of executions,” said Laura Moye, chairwoman of Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. “It is said it is a resumption of justice but instead we are being brutalized.”

 

APPEAL REJECTED

 

After shooting Ginger Moore three times in the head and face, Lynd buried her in a shallow grave. Soon afterward, as he drove to Ohio, he allegedly shot and killed another woman but was never convicted of that crime.

 

The Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a bid by Lynd’s lawyers to stop the execution. They argued that experts who described the murder scene in court had exaggerated.

 

Several states have scheduled executions since the moratorium ended, including Virginia and Texas, which carries out more executions than any other state.

 

Lynd is the 1,100th person put to death since the Supreme Court lifted a temporary ban on capital punishment in 1976.  Since then, Texas has had 405 executions, followed by Virginia with 98.

 

Lynd’s last meal consisted of two pepper jack barbecue burgers with crispy onions, baked potatoes with sour cream, bacon and cheese, and a large strawberry milkshake, prison authorities said.

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