Georgia Executes Donnie Lance For 1997 Killing Of Ex-Wife And Her Boyfriend

Rahul Srinivas

Donnie Cleveland Lance, a Georgia man convicted for the 1997 murders of his ex-wife and her boyfriend, was executed on Wednesday. According to CBS News, Lance is the first inmate to be executed in Georgia this year.

The 66-year-old convict was given a dose of lethal injection at the state prison in Jackson. Authorities pronounced him dead at 9:06 p.m., a statement issued by the Georgia attorney general's office confirmed.

According to the CBS News report, Lance did not issue a final statement when he was given a chance to make one. He also declined an offer from prison officials to have a chaplain say a prayer just before the execution. Lance was strapped to a gurney as the lethal injection was administered to him and stayed motionless for most of the time.

The warden reportedly left the execution chamber at 8:54 p.m, just minutes after the injection was administered. Lance reportedly took a dozen breaths before becoming entirely still three minutes after the warden left. He was declared dead a few minutes later.

Lance had been sentenced to death for the murder of Sabrina "Joy" Lance and her boyfriend, Dwight "Butch" Wood Jr. The crime leading to his execution happened on November 8, 1997, at Wood's home located in Jackson County, Georgia, around 60 miles from Atlanta.

According to court documents, Lance reportedly went to Wood's home on the day of the incident with an intent to kill. Carrying a shotgun with him, Lance kicked Wood's front door open and shot Wood before he could respond. He then beat his ex-wife to death using the butt of his shotgun.

Lance has maintained over the years that he did not kill the couple.

Prosecutors argued that there was overwhelming circumstantial evidence that pointed toward Lance. They also argued that he had a long history of abuse with his ex-wife. He was accused of assaulting her during their marriage and even after they separated. They also alleged that alcohol abuse played a role in Lance's aggressive behavior toward his ex-partner.

In September of 2019, Lance's lawyers filed for a DNA test on the various pieces of evidence recovered from the scene of the crime. They also asked for a new trial. The request was turned down.

On Wednesday, just hours before Lance was to be executed, the Georgia Supreme Court declined to hear a final appeal filed to stop Donnie's execution. The petition aimed at saving his life included statements from his adult children, Stephanie Lance Cape and Jessie Lance, who appealed to the court to save their father's life.