ATLANTA — A man who killed his ex-girlfriend and another woman nearly 25 years ago is the first death row prisoner set to be executed in Georgia this year.
Scotty Garnell Morrow, 52, is scheduled to die May 2 at the state prison in Jackson, state Attorney General Chris Carr announced Friday.
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.
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 a 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.
“It was in immediate reaction to Ms. Woods’s comments that (Morrow) fired, shooting first at Ms. Woods. The entire crime was complete within moments,” Morrow’s lawyers wrote. “In short, Mr. Morrow’s crime was spontaneous and his mental state at the time of the crime was compromised.”
His trial attorneys failed to adequately investigate his childhood, so jurors didn’t hear about years of abuse and bullying Morrow experienced as a child that left him tormented and unprepared to function in a healthy relationship, his post-conviction attorneys wrote.
If his trial attorneys had done a proper investigation, they could have proven that Morrow “was a genuinely nice guy who, because of the psychological pain of his past, snapped,” his lawyers argued.
Morrow’s execution date was set after the Superior Court of Hall County, where he was convicted, filed an order Friday setting a seven-day window for his execution. That window stretches from noon on May 2 to noon on May 9.
Georgia uses an injection of compounded pentobarbital, a sedative, to execute condemned prisoners.