Death sentence reinstated by Georgia Supreme Court

When a Jackson County jury sentenced Donnie Cleveland Lance to death for killing his ex-wife and her boyfriend, it did not know that Lance had ingested gasoline as a child, been shot in the head and had a history of depression and alcohol abuse.

For this reason, a trial judge reversed Lance's death sentence on the grounds his lawyers failed to to investigate Lance's troubled past. But on Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court reinstated Lance's death sentence for the 1997 murders. Lance's lawyers were deficient, the court found, but even if they had presented jurors the evidence of Lance's past it would not have changed their verdict to condemn Lance to death.

The court noted that Lance had a long history of violence with his former wife, Joy Lance, and that he killed her by beating her with a shotgun with such force it broke into pieces. Lance killed her boyfriend, Butch Wood, with two shotgun blasts.