Stay of execution denied, Georgia prepares to carry out its first execution of 2017

Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia is preparing to execute its first inmate this year, a man convicted of killing a 73-year-old neighbor.

J.W. Ledford Jr. is scheduled to be put to death Tuesday night at 7 at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. In an 8 to 1 vote, the Supreme Court of Georgia das denied a stay of execution of Ledford.

Earlier Tuesday, the court denied his motion for a stay and rejected his attorneys' claim that his age at the time of the crime should make him ineligible for the death penalty.

The 45-year-old inmate was convicted of murder in the January 1992 stabbing death of Dr. Harry Johnston near his home in Murray County, northwest Georgia.

Ledford told police he stabbed Johnston during an argument and then hid Johnston's body and robbed Johnston's wife at knifepoint.

Ledford's attorneys have argued that execution by Georgia's lethal injection drug would likely to cause the inmate extreme pain in violation of his constitutional rights. They have suggested using a firing squad instead, but that's not allowed under Georgia law.

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