Georgia sets execution for condemned killer Morrow

Scotty Morrow is scheduled to be executed on May 2. He was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and another woman in 1994.

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Scotty Morrow is scheduled to be executed on May 2. He was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and another woman in 1994.

A Gainesville man who sits on death row for the 1994 shooting deaths of his ex-girlfriend and her friend is set to be the first person executed in Georgia this year.

State Attorney General Chris Carr announced Friday that Scotty Morrow is to be put to death by lethal injection on May 2 at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

Georgia last carried out an execution on May 4, 2018. That execution, of Robert Earl Butts, was one of two carried out in Georgia last year.

The scheduling of Morrow's execution comes at a time when Georgia juries are declining to impose death sentences and also when district attorneys are seeking the ultimate punishment far less frequently. It has now been more than five years since a murder defendant in Georgia received a death sentence.

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Morrow was sentenced to death for the Dec. 29, 1994, murders of Barbara Ann Young and her friend Tonya Woods. Young was once Morrow’s girlfriend, and Hall County prosecutors said he beat and sexually assaulted her in the weeks leading up to the killings.

On the day of the murder, Morrow argued with Young over the phone, then went to her home armed with a handgun. Morrow entered the house and, after arguing with Woods, shot her in the abdomen, severing her spine, according to court records.

Young fled to the bathroom but Morrow kicked in the door, smashed her head into a door frame, then killed her with a shot to her head, court records say. He returned to the kitchen and killed Woods by shooting her in the head at close range. Morrow also shot LaToya Horne, another woman in the house, in the face and arm, but she survived.

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Morrow was convicted of the crimes and sentenced to death by a Hall County jury in June 1999. Twelve years later, a state court judge threw out Morrow’s death sentence after finding his trial lawyers did a poor job of representing him. But the Georgia Supreme Court later reversed that decision and reinstated Morrow’s death sentence.

Last year, the federal appeals court in Atlanta rejected Morrow’s latest appeal. But in doing so, Judge Charles Wilson, in a concurring opinion, expressed unease with the prior findings that Morrow’s attorneys failed to conduct a proper investigation of his life for evidence to be used in mitigation of a death sentence. If they had, Wilson said, they would have learned that Morrow was the victim of a series of rapes while he was growing up in the New York area.

Morrow’s federal appeals were exhausted in February, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider them.

Federal defender Jill Benton, who now represents Morrow, declined to comment Friday.

So far this year, there have been three executions nationwide — two in Texas and one in Alabama.