Killer who battered friend in drunken fight executed after 34 years on death row

Georgia has executed a man who beat a friend to death during an argument after a night of partying more than three decades ago. John Wayne Conner was put to death at the state prison in Jackson by an injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital. He didn’t make a final statement and declined to have a prayer said for him. The 60-year-old became the sixth inmate executed in Georgia this year, the most in a calendar year in the state since the death penalty was reinstated nationwide in 1976.

Due to the extraordinary delay in this case, Mr. Conner has already been subjected, in effect, to a life sentence under exceptionally severe penal conditions. To top this punishment with the permanently harmful indignity of execution would be excessive and disproportionate punishment

Lawyers’ fruitless plea for clemency

Conner was convicted of beating his friend J.T. White to death during a drunken row in 1982 after White told him he wanted to sleep with his girlfriend. However, his lawyers argued imposing the death penalty after he spent 34 years on death row was cruel and unusual punishment and amounted to double jeopardy - punishing someone twice for the same crime. They also pointed to his low intelligence and said he was raised in poverty in a home where extreme violence and substance abuse were the norm.