Update 12:20 a.m.:A rapid-fire sequence of appeals left John Winfield with no legal recourse to save himself from execution Tuesday night. Winfield was pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m. Wednesday, nine minutes after receiving a lethal dose of pentobarbital.
After the U.S. Supreme Court denied his lawyers' request for a stay of execution around 11:30 p.m., the only thing that could have stopped Winfield's death was his clemency petition on the desk of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.
Nixon denied the request for clemency minutes after the Supreme Court decision.
The Associated Press reports that Winfield "took four or five deep breaths as the drug was injected, puffed his cheeks twice and then fell silent, all in a matter of a few seconds."
Winfield was sentenced to death in 1998 for blinding his ex-girlfriend, Carmelita Donald, and killing two other women in a 1996 shooting spree. The rampage was sparked by Winfield's jealousy over Donald dating another man.
In a statement, Attorney General Chris Koster applauded the execution:
Nearly two decades have passed since John Winfield's cowardly acts of rage and jealously changed the lives of three families forever. He brutally murdered two defenseless young women, one in front of her children, and attempted to murder the mother of his own children, leaving her permanently disabled. For his actions, a court lawfully sentenced him to death under Missouri law, and tonight that sentence has been carried out.
A U.S. District judge stayed the execution late last week after his lawyers revealed how Missouri prison officials intimidated a sympathetic staff member from sending a letter supporting Winfield's clemency petition.
On Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit lifted that stay. Then, hours later, the U.S. Supreme Court denied four successive appeals from Winfield's lawyers to halt of execution .
Soon after, at around 11:40 p.m, Nixon denied Winfield's request for clemency, describing his crimes as "heinous."
John Winfield wasn't the only man executed Tuesday night...
Update 11:45 p.m.: John Winfield wasn't the only inmate scheduled to die Tuesday night.
Marcus Wellons -- a Georgia man who raped and murdered a 15-year-old girl in 1989 -- was pronounced dead at 11:56 p.m., according to the AP.
Like Missouri, Georgia uses a single lethal dose of pentobarbital to execute its death-row inmates; also like Missouri, Georgia hides identity of the compounding pharmacy that makes the killing drug. Lawyers for both men challenged their respective states to reveal how its prison officials acquired the pentobarbital, but to no avail.
Wellons was the first inmate to be executed in the U.S. since April 29 , when a botched execution in Oklahoma resulted in Clayton Lockett taking more than 40 minutes to die.
So, how did Georgia's execution go? The New York Times' Alan Binder reports the process went off "without abnormality," and took about twenty minutes. Also, a guard apparently fainted.
Georgia prisons spokeswoman says execution of Marcus Wellons began at 10:41 p.m. He was declared dead at 11:56 p.m.— Alan Blinder (@alanblinder) June 18, 2014
AP witness says Marcus Wellons entered the execution chamber at 10:52 p.m. The lethal injection itself did not begin until at least 11:32.— Alan Blinder (@alanblinder) June 18, 2014
Media witnesses said they saw no abnormalities in the execution of Marcus Wellons, except for a guard fainting.— Alan Blinder (@alanblinder) June 18, 2014