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Georgia delays execution for man who killed family

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Georgia on Wednesday delayed the execution of a man convicted of fatally stabbing his parents and his 14-year-old sister in their suburban Atlanta home in 1993.

Andrew Grant DeYoung, 37, was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection on Wednesday.

But the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections "used his discretion" to delay DeYoung's execution until 7 p.m. on Thursday, said spokeswoman Kristen Stancil. She would not elaborate on the reasons.

According to court documents, DeYoung hoped to inherit his parents' estimated $480,000 estate and start a business.

He planned to kill his entire family with an accomplice, but his 16-year-old brother escaped through a bedroom window and survived the attack.

In a rare move, a judge this week ordered that DeYoung's execution be videotaped after lawyers for another death row inmate raised concerns about Georgia's lethal injection process.

Lawyers for DeYoung argued pentobarbital, one of the three drugs Georgia uses in lethal injections, would cause "needless suffering."

Georgia first used pentobarbital, a sedative often used to euthanize animals, for the June 23 execution of Roy Blankenship.

According to a reporter who witnessed that execution, Blankenship "jerked his head several times throughout the procedure and muttered after the pentobarbital was injected into his veins," court documents state.

Pentobarbital "has not been scientifically tested as a free-standing anesthesia on humans," DeYoung's attorneys said in court documents.

Attorneys for the state said the execution protocol requires a nurse and warden to examine the inmate after pentobarbital is administered to make sure he is unconscious before using the second drug, pancuronium bromide.

DeYoung's claim pentobarbital is untested "is simply disingenuous as 17 executions have been carried out across the country this year with pentobarbital without incident," Georgia lawyers wrote in court briefs.

The Georgia Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected DeYoung's appeals but affirmed the request by another death row inmate, Gregory Walker, to have DeYoung's execution videotaped. The court also said experts could be present during the execution to witness his "physiological responses" to the drugs.

The experts also will be allowed at DeYoung's autopsy. The videotape will be sealed.

Georgia has executed 50 men since 1976. DeYoung would be the state's 28th inmate executed by lethal injection.

Texas on Wednesday executed a man for killing a store clerk near Dallas in 2001 in what he had called a "patriotic" act of retaliation for the 9/11 attacks. It was the 28th execution in the United States this year.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton)

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