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Georgia Man Stays Silent as He's Put to Death

Donnie Cleveland Lance was convicted of killing his ex-wife and her boyfriend in 1997
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 30, 2020 9:04 AM CST
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This undated file photo released by the Georgia Department of Corrections shows Donnie Cleveland Lance.   (Georgia Department of Corrections via AP, File)

(Newser) – A Georgia man convicted of killing his ex-wife and her boyfriend more than two decades ago was put to death Wednesday evening, becoming the state's first inmate to be executed this year. Donnie Cleveland Lance, 66, received a lethal injection at the state prison in Jackson. His time of death was 9:05pm, Warden Benjamin Ford told witnesses. Lance said nothing when he was given a chance to make a final statement and declined to have a chaplain say a prayer. Strapped to a gurney, he lay mostly still but wiggled his feet. Lance was sentenced to death for the Nov. 8, 1997, killings of Sabrina "Joy" Lance and Dwight "Butch" Wood Jr., reports the AP.

Lance went to Wood's home in Jackson County, kicked in the front door, shot Wood in the front and back with a shotgun, and then beat Joy Lance to death with the butt of the weapon, according to a Georgia Supreme Court summary of the case. Lance had maintained he did not kill the pair, and his now-adult son and daughter begged for clemency. There were no witnesses, and no murder weapon was ever found. Lance's lawyers argued that no blood or other physical evidence linked him to the killings but that investigators focused only on him from the start. Lawyers for the state argued that the evidence against Lance, "although circumstantial, was overwhelming." Prosecutors said Lance had long abused his ex-wife, both during their marriage and after their divorce, and had threatened multiple times to kill her.

(Read more execution stories.)

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