Georgia set to execute first inmate of the year

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By: Associated Press
May 16, 2017
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. 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.

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

Ledford's lawyers had argued he was only 20-years-old at the time of the murder and his brain wasn't done developing when he killed Johnston. Ledford's lawyers also argued that the execution of those under 21 is unconstitutional, as juvenile offenders are considered less culpable.

The Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal of a lower court refusal to stop the execution.

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