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Clemency hearing scheduled for man sentenced to die for Hall murders
Scotty Morrow.jpg
Scotty Morrow

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles will meet Wednesday, May 1 to consider clemency for a man convicted almost 25 years ago of the murders of two women in Hall County.

Scotty Garnell Morrow, 52, is scheduled to die at 7 p.m. May 2 at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson.

Morrow was convicted of murder in the fatal shootings of his ex-girlfriend Barbara Ann Young and her friend Tonya Woods at Young’s Gainesville home in December 1994. A third woman was also shot but survived.

Lawyers for Morrow have said the killings were “spontaneous and emotionally-charged” and that he shouldn’t have been sentenced to die.

The board will have three options after the meeting: Commute Morrow’s sentence to life imprisonment, deny clemency or issue a stay on the execution for a maximum of 90 days.

If the sentence is commuted, the board also can choose whether Morrow would have the possibility of parole.

In a 1995 court filing regarding the death penalty, then Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lydia Sartain wrote “the offense of murder of Barbara Ann Young was outrageously and wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman in that it involved torture and depravity of mind.”

Morrow and Young began dating in June 1994, but she broke up with him that December because of his abusive behavior, according to a Georgia Supreme Court summary of the case. Morrow called Young on Dec. 29, 1994, and she told him to leave her alone, the summary says. Young was in her kitchen with two friends and two of her children when Morrow showed up a short time later and the pair argued.

Woods told Morrow to leave, saying Young didn’t want anything to do with him anymore. Morrow yelled at her and pulled out a handgun and began shooting, hitting Woods in the abdomen and severing her spine, the summary says.

Morrow also shot Young’s other friend, LaToya Horne, in the arm.

Young ran from the kitchen. Morrow ran after her and kicked open the door to her bedroom, where he beat her head and face and then followed her into the hallway, grabbed her by the hair and fired the fatal shot into her head, the summary says.

Young’s 5-year-old son was hiding in a nearby bedroom and saw Morrow kill his mother, the summary says.

Morrow then returned to the kitchen, where he fired a fatal shot under Woods’ chin and then shot Horne in the face and arm, the summary says. He cut the telephone line and fled.

Young and Woods died from their injuries, and Horne was severely wounded but managed to leave the house to seek help.

Morrow was arrested within hours. He confessed and the gun used in the killings was found hidden in his yard.

Attorneys representing Morrow in post-conviction proceedings challenged the constitutionality of his sentence in a petition filed in federal court in 2012.

“The death penalty is rarely sought — let alone obtained — in response to spontaneous and emotionally-charged crimes like that committed by Mr. Morrow,” they wrote.

When Morrow went to Young’s home, he pleaded with her to get back together. He pulled out his gun when Woods mocked him, saying Young had used him for money and companionship while her “real man” was in prison, the petition says.

Georgia uses an injection of compounded pentobarbital, a sedative, to execute condemned prisoners.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.