Clemency Denied For Guy Set To Be The First Person Executed In Georgia In Almost Four Years


ATLANTA— Georgia will see its first execution in more than four years after the parole board denied clemency for a sentenced man who was scheduled to die on Wednesday night.

Willie James Pye’s attorneys claimed in their mercy plea that their client should not be put to death since he has an intellectual disability and regrets killing a woman thirty years ago.

Pye, 59, is set to get a fatal dose of pentobarbital, a sedative. He was found guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend, Alicia Lynn Yarbrough, in November 1993, as well as of rape and other offenses.

Pye’s bid for mercy was refused by the Georgia Parole Board following a closed-door hearing, the agency revealed late on Tuesday.

Pye’s attorneys referred to the man’s trial as “a shocking relic of the past” and pointed to bigotry and other flaws in the public defender system that served Spalding County in the 1990s.

Pye’s attorneys claimed in their clemency plea that the local judicial system’s shortcomings had the effect of “turning accused defendants into convicted felons with all the efficiency of Henry Ford’s assembly line.”

Pye’s attorneys argued, “The jury would have learned that Mr. Pye is intellectually disabled and has an IQ of 68 had defense counsel not abdicated his role.”

They added, “They would have discovered that the obstacles he had to overcome from the beginning—extreme poverty, abuse, unrelenting violence, and disorder in his family home—precluded the possibility of a healthy development.” “This type of evidence is exactly what justifies a life sentence decision.”

Pye and Yarbrough had had a romantic relationship that had been intermittent. Yarbrough was living with another man when she was killed. Prosecutors have stated that Pye, Chester Adams, and a fifteen-year-old child had intended to rob the man and purchase a firearm prior to going to a Griffin party.

Around midnight, the three departed from the celebration and headed to Yarbrough’s residence, where they discovered her by herself with her infant, as per the authorities. Prosecutors claim that after forcing their way inside the home, they snatched a necklace and ring from Yarbrough and took her with them, leaving the infant alone.

Prosecutors claim that after leaving the motel with Yarbrough in the teen’s car, the three proceeded to a motel where they alternatedly raped her. According to court documents, Pye ordered Yarbrough out of the car, forced her to lie face down, and then shot her three times after they turned onto a rural road.

Pye was given the death penalty after a jury in June 1996 found him guilty of murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, rape, and burglary.

January 2020 marked the last execution in Georgia. The state is attempting to get past a deal struck during the COVID-19 outbreak that at the time essentially stopped fatal injections.

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