Today has been marked as a first in American execution history, as a man who was convicted of the killing of his parents and his 14-year old sister Sarah when he was still a student at Kennesaw State University so he could use his inheritance to start a business; was today put to death after the court allowed America’s first video recorded execution in nearly 20 years.
A videographer with a camera on a tripod stood about 5 feet away from the trolley inside the execution chamber where Andrew DeYoung, 37 years of age, received the lethal injection at the state prison in Jackson, Georgia.
The execution was plain sailing with DeYoung refusing a last prayer and taking a sedative before the lethal injections were pumped into his system. When the three drug injection began, it was reported that DeYoung blinked and swallowed for about two minutes before his eyes closed and became still. The execution was supposed to be carried out last Wednesday but was put back after the state tried to block the video recording.
Lawyers of death row inmate Gregory Walker argued that recording DeYoung’s execution would provide critical evidence in the appeal about the effects of pentobarbital, which is the sedative being used as the first step in Georgia’s injection procedure.
The use of pentobarbital became an issue in Georgia after Roy Blankenship’s execution last June. Blankenship was the first inmate to be executed using the sedative as the lead-off drug in the three drug combination. An Associated Press reporter witnessed Blankenship jerking his head several times during the procedure, looking at the injection site in his arms and muttering after the pentobarbital was injected. Death penalty critics said the unusual movements were proof that Georgia should not have used pentobarbital to sedate Blankenship before injecting Pancuronium bromide to paralyse and Potassium chloride to stop the heart. In reply to the criticism, state prosecutors argued that the movement was before the sedation drug took effect and that in both Blankenship and DeYoung cases, a nurse carried out a consciousness check before the other two drugs were injected to make sure that sedation had in fact taken place.
The State of Georgia also argued that the execution video will be kept in a safe place under lock and key and only used as information regarding the execution procedure and will not be made public.