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Scotty Morrow put to death for 1994 double homicide
Scotty Morrow.jpg
Scotty Morrow

Scotty Garnell Morrow, 52, was executed by lethal injection Thursday night almost 25 years after committing two Hall County murders. He was pronounced dead at 9:38 p.m.

Morrow expressed remorse in his final words, saying he hoped the families would heal.

Morrow offered his “deepest and sincere apologies” to the families of Barbara Ann Young and Tonya Rochelle Woods, who were killed Dec. 29, 1994 at Young’s Gainesville home.

He also apologized to LaToya Horne, who survived the shooting.

“I hope that you all recover and have healing,” Morrow said.

He also expressed remorse for any pain he caused his own family, saying “I love you all.”

An imam offered a prayer following Morrow’s statements.

“I love you, brother,” the imam said.

“I love you, too,” Morrow replied.

Six guards brought Morrow to the gurney, strapping him down at the ankles, thighs, chest and arms.

The execution appeared to go smoothly, with the placing of the needle being done quickly. Morrow winced as the straps tying him down to the gurney were tightened and checked.

Minutes after the drug took hold, Morrow’s head tilted to the side.

As of 5 p.m., prison officials said Morrow had eaten half of his last meal, and had seen 17 visitors during the day, including friends, family, clergy and his attorneys. He was set to record his last statement at 5 p.m. According to a schedule released by the prison, at 6 p.m. he was offered the option of taking the sedative Ativan, which he declined.

Morrow was the first death row prisoner to be executed in Georgia this year.

Among the attendees Thursday night were Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch, District Attorney Lee Darragh and former district attorney Lydia Sartain, who was the county’s chief prosecutor at the time of the killings.

“Tonight, the death penalty that I had asked a jury to impose 20 years ago finally was carried out in the execution of Scotty Morrow. It was truly a profound thing to witness, but it was important that I be present. Justice was done for the families of Tonya Woods and Barbara Ann Young, for whom (I) wish peace and comfort,” Darragh said in a statement following the execution.

Darragh said family members of both Young and Woods were in attendance.

He was joined by Sharon Couch and Lisa Jones, the respective investigator and assistant district attorney working on the case in the 1990s.

Sheriff Gerald Couch was the primary investigator on the case.

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.

An archived December 1994 article in The Times quoted Barbara Young’s brother, Ronnie, who said Morrow had been dating his sister for roughly two months.

“He appeared to be nice, but when no one was around, he turned dirty. He beat her up,” Ronnie Young said. “(Barbara) Ann had her friends (LaToya and Tonya) stay with her because she was scared of (Morrow).”

Morrow called Young on Dec. 29, 1994, and she told him to leave her alone, the summary says.

Young was in her kitchen with the 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.

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.

Morrow’s attorneys pursued numerous options in the days and hours prior to the execution to try to delay or halt it.

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency for Morrow on Wednesday.

In their petition, Morrow’s attorneys argued that in the years since the murders, Morrow had taken responsibility, had shown remorse and had 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.

Shortly after killing the two women, Morrow walked behind the dog pen in his backyard with a gun and considered suicide, according to the application.

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

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.”

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

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

The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously denied an appeal for a stay of execution Thursday afternoon.

In an email, public information officer Jane Hansen wrote: "In addition to denying Morrow’s motion for a stay of execution, the state Supreme Court has denied his request to appeal a ruling by the Butts County Superior Court, which issued an order denying a stay and rejecting Morrow’s challenge to his death sentence."

A last-minute appeal to the United States Supreme Court was made just prior to 7 p.m., but that was denied about 9 p.m.

A previous appeal by Morrow’s attorneys to the US Supreme Court was denied Feb. 19.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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