Corrections officers guard the entrance to the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification State Prison in advance of the scheduled execution of Joshua Bishop on Thursday evening, March 30, 2016. (Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com)

Georgia executes Joshua Bishop for 1994 murder

Georgia has executed Joshua Daniel Bishop for the 1994 Baldwin County murder of Leverett Morrison, the office of the Georgia attorney general announced Thursday.

Bishop, 41, was put to death by lethal injection at 9:27 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center in Butts County. The sentence was carried out shortly after the United States Supreme Court denied Bishop’s request for a stay of execution.

A possible reprieve from the nation’s highest court was all Bishop had left after the Georgia Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon declined to halt his execution. The State Board of Pardons and Paroles also denied his plea for clemency Thursday.

The original execution hour of 7 p.m. came and went, as is the norm in death penalty cases.

During his final evening of life, Bishop ate all of his last meal: a barbecue sandwich, Brunswick stew, potato chips, coleslaw, lemonade and purple candy. He also received 13 visitors — a mixture of friends, clergy and legal reps — and recorded a final statement.

Bishop is the third man Georgia has executed this year. There is another lethal injection scheduled for April 12 — Kenneth Fults for murdering his neighbor in 1996.

Bishop was 19 when he and 36-year-old Mark Braxley murdered Morrison because they wanted the keys to his Jeep.

The three men had spent much of June 25, 1994, drinking at a local bar before they moved their party to Braxley’s trailer where they smoked crack.

Morrison, 35, was asleep but woke up when Bishop tried to fish his keys out of his pocket. Bishop and Braxley hit Morrison with a car battery and then beat him with a curtain rod until he was dead. They left his body between two dumpsters, set fire to his Jeep, and returned to Braxley’s trailer to clean the murder scene.

Then they went back to the bar to drink.

While Bishop confessed to killing Morrison — as well as a second murder investigators did not yet know about — he still went to trial and was ultimately sentenced to die. Braxley, however, pleaded guilty and is serving a sentence of life with parole.

The two were never tried on charges of killing Ricky Lee Wills on June 9, 1994, but evidence of Wills’ murder was used to secure a death sentence for Bishop. Bishop and Braxley said they killed Wills because he he’d had sexual contact with Bishop’s mother, who was a prostitute and drug and alcohol addict.

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The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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