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Condemned man’s attorney argues for clemency ahead of Thursday execution
Scotty Morrow.jpg
Scotty Morrow

After killing two women and injuring a third, Scotty Morrow walked behind the dog pen in his backyard with a gun in December 1994 and considered suicide, according to his attorneys’ application for clemency.

Morrow’s ex-wife wrote in a letter that the only thing that stopped him was his son, who was calling out for him.

In the years since, Morrow, now 52, has changed and been rehabilitated, according to his clemency petition.

Morrow is scheduled to die at 7 p.m. May 2 at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson for two 1994 Hall County murders. He was convicted in 1999 of killing Barbara Ann Young and Tonya Rochelle Woods, as well as shooting LaToya Horne, on Dec. 29, 1994 at Young’s Gainesville home.

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles will meet Wednesday, May 1 to consider clemency for Morrow.

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.

Morrow’s attorneys argue he has taken responsibility, has shown remorse and has been a model inmate in his time behind bars.

“Mr. Morrow’s acts of violence were aberrations in a life otherwise characterized by kindness and compassion and the man he became in December of 1994 bears no resemblance to the man he was before and the man he has worked to be since,” according to the clemency application.

Morrow’s attorneys painted a picture of him as a loving father who “cared deeply not only for his own two sons, but for Ms. Young’s five small children.”

“As Mr. Morrow explained to this Board’s staff last week, in the days leading up to the crime, he began to hear rumors of Ms. Young’s involvement with someone else and her intention to leave him. The testimony at trial was that Ms. Young was planning to reconcile with the father of two of her children upon his impending release from prison,” according to the clemency application.

But Attorney General Chris Carr cited the Georgia Supreme Court’s summary of the case in the notice announcing the execution, which read in part Young left Morrow “because of his abusive behavior.”

Young’s 5-year-old son was watching when Morrow shot and killed the boy’s mother.

According to his attorneys, Morrow returned home after the slayings and considered suicide.

“And as his former wife recalled, he ‘only stopped when he heard Scotty Jr. calling him, because he didn’t want our son to find him dead. I have always been grateful to him for that,’” according to the clemency application.

Morrow wrote a letter on the 15th anniversary of the slayings, penning that he searches himself “daily to try to find out how I could lose control to this magnitude.”

Members of Morrow’s family, church and correctional officers offered testimony regarding Morrow’s nature.

According to his attorneys, Morrow has become a role model to other inmates by repeatedly “risking his own security and well-being to defuse fraught encounters and keep the peace.

“He has taken it upon himself to care for elderly, infirm and vulnerable prisoners. He has, through his gentleness and selflessness, earned unprecedented trust from the correctional officers and staff.”

Behind bars, Morrow began “drawing on the spiritual resources of Islam” and converted, according to the clemency application.

“Islam, with its stringent practices, has provided Mr. Morrow with the ‘rigorous demands for atonement that he craves … Mr. Morrow is acutely aware of his own weaknesses and how those weaknesses led to his brutal crime and devastated three families. He is constantly seeking to make amends for those weaknesses, and his faith in God has provided him with a disciplined and loving path,’” according to a letter from psychologist William Buchanan included in Morrow’s clemency application.

In the final pages of the application, Morrow’s attorneys argued the trial jury did not hear evidence about Morrow being sexually assaulted repeatedly by a family member.

The attorneys said Morrow “was unable to volunteer these facts to Dr. Buchanan in the midst of his capital trial in 1999.”

“The information about his early physical and sexual victimization helped explain Mr. Morrow’s inability to tap into his own emotions at the time of my first evaluation. As a result of his repeated exposure to complex trauma as a child, Mr. Morrow adopted maladaptive coping mechanisms, such as cutting off his emotions, which limited his ability to develop healthy emotional responses and form healthy attachments as he grew older,” according to a letter written by Buchanan.

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