JACKSON, Ga. — A Georgia man convicted of killing his parents and sister was executed Thursday after the courts allowed what was likely the nation's first video-recorded execution in almost two decades.
Andrew DeYoung, 37, was put to death by lethal injection Thursday night at the state prison in Jackson after courts turned down his appeals.
He was pronounced dead at 8:04 p.m. DeYoung blinked his eyes and swallowed for about two minutes, then his eyes closed and he became still. A video camera and a camera operator were in the execution chamber about 5 feet (1.5 meters) away from DeYoung.
The execution was set for Wednesday but was pushed back a day as the state tried to block the video recording.
Lawyers for death row inmate Gregory Walker, who sought the recording, argued that would provide critical evidence in his appeal about the effects of pentobarbital. Walker's attorneys want to show that Georgia's reconfigured three-drug lethal injection procedure does not adequately sedate the inmate and could cause pain and suffering.
In court filings, state prosecutors argued that having a videographer in the execution chamber could jeopardize the state's carefully planned security. They also said creating a video came with the risk of it being distributed.
A Fulton County judge allowed the recording to take place, and that decision was upheld by the Georgia Supreme Court on Thursday. The video will be kept under seal by the court.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said it was up to the courts to decide the matter, though he told reporters following a news conference Thursday he had "grave reservations" about videotaping executions.
Defense lawyers countered in a motion filed Thursday that the state corrections department has long allowed cameras to film parts of the prison, although they acknowledged the state has never before allowed an execution to be recorded.
"It is simply disingenuous to assert that video recording of Mr. DeYoung's execution constitutes a fundamental threat to the security of the institution," attorneys wrote in the filing.
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