Man faces execution for 1980 murder

ATLANTA — The state is set to execute a man who has been on death row for more than two decades.

Roy Willard Blankenship faces death for the 1978 murder of a 78-year-old Savannah woman.

Blankenship was convicted in April 1980 and sentenced to death for the burglary, murder and rape of 78 year old Sarah Mims Bowen. The Georgia Supreme Court overturned the sentence.

In 1982, Blankenship was sentenced to death for a second time, and the sentence was again overturned. In June 1986, Blankenship was again sentenced to death; the sentence was upheld on appeal.

According to authorities Blankenship confessed after his arrest.

Media witnesses for the execution are Greg Bluestein of The Associated Press, Eddie Ledbetter of the Statesboro Herald and Mitchell E. Peace of The Claxton Enterprise.

Blankenship declined to request a last meal. Instead, he was offered the institution's meal tray, consisting of chicken and rice, peas, carrots, collard greens, corn bread, a brownie and iced tea, prison officials said.

There have been 49 men executed in Georgia since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1973. If executed, Blankenship will be the 27th inmate put to death by lethal injection. There are presently 101 men and one woman on death row in Georgia.

The state will be using pentobarbital as a sedative instead of sodium thiopental, according to published reports. Blankenship had sought a stay of execution because of the drug switch; a Fulton County judge on Tuesday denied the request.

This will be the first execution in Georgia using pentobarbital, The Associated Press reported.

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