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The Latest: Georgia executes man in police officer's killing

October 19, 2016 - 9:07 PM

JACKSON, Ga. - The Latest on the execution of Georgia inmate Gregory Paul Lawler (all times local):

12 a.m.

A man convicted of killing an Atlanta police officer and wounding a second officer with an AR-15 rifle has been executed in Georgia.

Authorities say 63-year-old Gregory Paul Lawler was pronounced dead at 11:49 p.m. Wednesday at the state prison in Jackson following a lethal injection. He was the seventh inmate executed in Georgia this year, the most in any calendar year by the state since the death penalty was reinstated nationwide in 1976.

Lawler was convicted of murder in the Oct. 12, 1997, shooting death of officer John Sowa. Authorities say Lawler also critically wounded another officer with the AR-15 rifle, using bullets capable of penetrating body armour.

The officers were bringing Lawler's intoxicated girlfriend home when the shooting erupted. Court records indicate both officers fell without unholstering their weapons.

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11:05 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied the request for a stay in the execution of a Georgia man convicted of killing an Atlanta police officer and critically wounding another in 1997.

Sixty-three-year-old inmate Gregory Paul Lawler was scheduled to receive a lethal injection Wednesday night at the state prison in Jackson.

Lawler would be the seventh inmate executed in Georgia this year, the most in a calendar year in the state since the death penalty was reinstated nationwide in 1976.

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6:45 p.m.

The Georgia Supreme Court has denied a request to halt Wednesday evening's scheduled execution of a man condemned for the 1997 killing of an Atlanta police officer.

Court spokeswoman Jane Hansen issued a statement that the court unanimously denied the appeal of inmate Gregory Paul Lawler shortly before his originally scheduled 7 p.m. execution time loomed — and as defence lawyers were still seeking to halt the sentence from being carried out.

Lawler's attorneys subsequently appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a stay, but there was no immediate decision from the justices in Washington.

Earlier, the Georgia Supreme Court statement said that it also denied defence requests to appeal recent lower court rulings in the case. Earlier Wednesday, the lower courts denied a defence motion for a stay by rejecting claims the inmate's lawyers based on his recent diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder.

Lawler, 63, was scheduled to receive a lethal injection at the state prison in Jackson. He was convicted in the October 1997 shooting death of Officer John Sowa and in the critically wounding of Officer Patricia Cocciolone. Authorities say an AR-15 rifle was used in the shootings.

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5:25 p.m.

Court challenges are still pending for a man facing scheduled execution, condemned for the 1997 killing of an Atlanta police officer.

Gregory Paul Lawler, 63, is scheduled to receive an injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital on Wednesday evening at the state prison in Jackson. He was convicted in the October 1997 shooting death of Officer John Sowa and in the critically wounding of Officer Patricia Cocciolone.

A spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Corrections said Lawler had visits Wednesday from one family member, a lawyer and a paralegal. She said he also ate a meal he requested that included a ribeye steak, baked potato with sour cream, French onion soup, strawberries and pistachio ice cream.

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11 a.m.

A man convicted of killing an Atlanta police officer and wounding a second officer with an AR-15 rifle is scheduled to be the seventh person executed by the state this year.

Gregory Paul Lawler, 63, is set to die by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital on Wednesday evening. He was convicted in the October 1997 slaying of Officer John Sowa and for critically wounding Officer Patricia Cocciolone.

If the execution is carried out, Lawler would be the seventh inmate executed in Georgia this year, the most in a calendar year in the state since the death penalty was reinstated nationwide in 1976. Georgia executed five inmates last year and five in 1987.

Georgia is one of five states that have carried out executions this year for a total of 16 nationwide. Texas has executed seven inmates, while Alabama, Florida and Missouri have executed one apiece.

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Follow Kate Brumback on Twitter: http://twitter.com/katebrumback

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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