A man who shot and killed his ex-girlfriend and another woman nearly 25 years ago was executed Thursday evening in Georgia.
Scotty Garnell Morrow’s approximate time of death was 9:38 p.m., Warden Benjamin Ford told witnesses at the state prison in Jackson. Morrow, 52, was convicted of murder in the shooting deaths of his ex-girlfriend Barbara Ann Young and her friend Tonya Woods at Young’s Gainesville home in December 1994.
Strapped to a gurney before he received a lethal injection of the sedative pentobarbital, Morrow said, “I would like to give my most deepest and sincere apologies to the Woods family and the Young family,” adding that he hopes they can find peace.
He also apologized to LaToya Horne, who also was shot but survived. And he apologized to his friends and family for the hurt and pain, saying, “I love you all.”
A Department of Corrections imam read a prayer and finished with, “I love you, brother.” Morrow responded, “I love you, too.”
The inmate moved his mouth and blinked for a couple of minutes once the drug began to flow. Then he turned his head to the right, yawned and took deep breaths before becoming still.
Morrow was the first inmate put to death in Georgia this year. His execution came shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-hour bid to block the death sentence from being carried out.
Morrow and Young had been dating for about six months when she broke up with him in December 1994 because he had become abusive, a Georgia Supreme Court summary of the case says. He went to her house that Dec. 29 to try to win her back.
Young was in her kitchen with two of her children and two friends, Woods and Horne, when Morrow arrived. The pair argued and Woods told Morrow to leave, saying Young didn’t want to be with him anymore, the summary says. Morrow yelled at Woods to be quiet, pulled a handgun from his waistband and began shooting.
He shot Woods in the abdomen, severing her spine, the summary says. He also shot Horne in the arm.
Young fled the kitchen and Morrow followed her to her bedroom, where he beat her and then followed her back into the hall, grabbed her by the hair and fatally shot her in the head, according to the summary. Young’s 5-year-old son, hiding in a nearby bedroom, saw Morrow shoot his mother.
Morrow then returned to the kitchen, fired a fatal shot under Woods’ chin and shot Horne in the face and arm before leaving the home. Young and Woods died of their injuries. Horne was severely wounded but was able to seek help.
Arrested within hours, Morrow confessed to shooting the women. At trial, he admitted that he began shooting because he wanted Woods “to shut up.”
Morrow’s attorneys had said he saw his mother severely beaten and was, himself, repeatedly raped and beaten as a child. The lingering effects from that abuse left him unable to properly process and express his emotions, they said.
When Woods told him Young had just been using him for money and companionship while her “real man” was in prison, he snapped, his lawyers have said.
Morrow was convicted on two counts of malice murder, among other charges, in June 1999. A state court overturned his death sentence in February 2011, finding that his trial lawyers didn’t do enough to investigate and present mitigating evidence during the sentencing phase of trial. But the Georgia Supreme Court reinstated the death sentence later that year.
His state and federal appeals were exhausted in February when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his case.
The State Board of Pardons and Paroles, the only authority in Georgia that can commute a death sentence, rejected Morrow’s request for clemency following a closed-door hearing Wednesday. Morrow’s lawyers had described him in the clemency petition as rehabilitated and a model prisoner on death row, a mentor to other prisoners and a help to guards. They said he felt great remorse for the pain and loss he caused the Woods and Young families.
“Mr. Morrow’s acts of violence were aberrations in a life otherwise characterized by kindness and compassion and the man he became in December of 1994 bears no resemblance to the man he was before and the man he has worked to be since,” his lawyers wrote in the clemency petition.
Corrections officials said Morrow received visits Thursday from one friend, 10 family members, two clergy members and four attorneys.