Page last updated at 00:06 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 01:06 UK

Georgia death row inmate executed

William Earl Lynd - undated Georgia Department of Corrections photo
William Earl Lynd spent nearly 20 years on death row

A convicted murderer has been executed in the US state of Georgia, after the US Supreme Court rejected an appeal.

William Earl Lynd was put to death by lethal injection, making him the first prisoner to be executed in the US since last September.

Executions had been halted while the Supreme Court considered whether lethal injections broke a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The court ruled last month that such executions were constitutional.

Mr Lynd, 53, was convicted of kidnapping and killing his girlfriend nearly 20 years ago.

Both the Georgia Supreme Court, and the US Supreme Court, rejected his appeal for a stay of execution.

Doubts raised

Lethal injection is used by 37 of 38 American states which have the death sentence on their statute books.

The inmate is given three drugs - a sedative, another that paralyses all muscles except the heart and a final drug which stops the heart, causing death.

Lethal injection room - file photo
Three drugs are given to prisoners being executed by lethal injection

States began using the injections in 1978 as an alternative to previously used methods of execution such as electrocution.

Concerns were raised about lethal injection recently when it was discovered that some prisoners were taking up to 30 minutes to die instead of 15.

A 2005 study also sparked controversy by suggesting the amount of sedation given might not be enough to stop the inmate feeling the painful effects of the other drugs - but would prevent him crying out.

The US Supreme Court case against lethal injection was made by two death row inmates in Kentucky.

US court backs lethal injection
16 Apr 08 |  Americas
US court debates lethal injection
07 Jan 08 |  Americas
Delay to Florida lethal injection
15 Nov 07 |  Americas

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific