Georgia man faces July 14 execution for 1982 murder

John Wayne ConnerJohn Wayne Conner

John Wayne Conner is scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. on July 14 for the 1982 murder of James T. White in Telfair County.

At the time of the murder, Conner lived with his girlfriend, Beverly Bates, in Milan. On the evening of Jan. 9, 1982, they rode with friends, including the victim, J. T. White, to a party in Eastman, prosecutors.

After spending the evening drinking and smoking marijuana, the group returned to Milan around midnight, prosecutors said. White, 29, described by one witness as “humble and satisfied” and by another as “mellow,” exited the vehicle with Conner and Bates at their house. Shortly thereafter, Conner and White left the house on foot, taking with them a nearly empty bottle of bourbon that Conner purchased the night before.

They walked to the home of Pete Dupree, woke him up, and asked him to take them to get more whiskey. He refused.

Then, according to Conner:

“Me and J. T. left and went down the road. J. T. made the statement about he would like to go to bed with my girlfriend and so I got mad and we got into a fight and fought all the way over to the oak tree and I hit him with a quart bottle. He run over there to the fence trying to get through or across, I reckon, so I run over there and grabbed him and pulled him back and hit him again and he fell in the water and he grabbed my leg. I was down there at him right there in the ditch where he was at and he was swinging trying to get up or swinging at me to try to hit me one, and there was a stick right there at me, and I grabbed it and went to beating him with it.”

The next day, White’s body was found in a drainage ditch near the Milan Elementary School. He had been hit so hard in the face with a blunt object that teeth, as well as portions of the bone to which they were attached, were broken away from his upper and lower jaws, according to prosecutors.

Media witnesses for the execution are: Justin Ray McDuffie of WMAZ-TV; Kate Brumback of The Associated Press; David Johnson of WGXA-TV; Eric Denty of the Telfair Enterprise; and Kelly Lenz of the (Dublin) Courier Herald.

Conner requested a last meal consisting of 10 pieces of fried catfish, 10 hushpuppies, two triple deluxe hamburgers with bacon, two pints of vanilla ice cream and one sliced raw onion.

There have been 64 men and one woman executed in Georgia since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. If executed, Conner will be the 43rd inmate put to death by lethal injection. There are presently 63 men under death sentence in Georgia.

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