The State Parole Board denied a last-minute clemency request from the family of Steven Spears.
The convicted killer was executed by lethal injection at the state prison in Jackson at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night.Spears was the the 8th man killed in Georgia so far this year. That passes Texas for most in the country.
"Georgia seems to have an express lane to the lethal injection chamber," said 11Alive legal analyst Phil Holloway. "I really think it's just a coincidence though. You have a lot of people whose appeals are running out at the same time."
The eight executions are the most in more than half a century. In 1957, the state killed 16 men.
Despite the milestone number this year, the number of death penalty convictions is drastically down.That's because juries in Georgia stopped routinely awarding the death penalty years ago.
Up until 2000, there were about 10 death penalty convictions a year. Since then the average has been closer to two.
In fact in 2015, there wasn't a single death penalty conviction in the state.
"Now that life without parole is a possibility, I think it gives jurors something to think about. So prosecutors seek the death penalty less frequently and juries give out the death penalty less frequently," Holloway said.
What's unusual about the Spears case is that he never once appealed his conviction or sentence.
Sherri Holland told her family that her ex-boyfriend Steven Spears was dangerous. Shortly after Holland ended their three-year relationship, Spears waited for her in her son's closet.
He was convicted of tying her up, taping a plastic bag over her head and watching her smother to death.
"She had told family and friends of the situations that had been going on between him and her," former Lumpkin County Sheriff Jimmy Berry told 11Alive at the time.
Spears was on the run for more than 10 days. He was found in the woods in Lumpkin County.
According to court records, Spears admitted to investigators he had killed Holland, saying that he did it because he loved her.
"Normally, prisoners are fighting against the execution all the way up until the bitter end. They have friends, they have family, they have lawyers petitioning everybody up until the very last minute. Not in this case, that's why this is so unusual," Holloway said.
Despite Spears apparently wanting his execution, his lawyers and even an ex-wife did appeal on his behalf.
They argued Spears was abused and neglected as a child.
Ultimately, the state parole board denied those objections.
The Office of the Attorney General sent out this statement:
The lawfully ordered execution of Steven Frederick Spears for the 2001 murder of Sherri Holland was carried out this evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center in Jackson, Georgia. The sentence was carried out after the United States Supreme Court denied Spears' request for a stay of execution.