DeYoung was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 1995.
Asked to make a final statement, DeYoung said, “I’m sorry to anyone I ever hurt.”
The rest of his message was garbled over the prison’s sound system, although DeYoung’s lawyer said he added “I love you Dawn (a longtime friend). Remember to smile.”
DeYoung declined the offer of a final prayer, but accepted Ativan, a sedative, with his dinner.
As the execution cocktail was injected into his arms via an IV drip, DeYoung swallowed a few times and blinked his eyes before closing them, his expression blank. He was pronounced dead shortly after.
“The execution was flawless,” Attorney General Sam Olens said later. “The Department of Corrections did an excellent job handling the execution this evening.”
DeYoung had his requested last meal before his planned execution on Wednesday, where he ate pizza, grape juice, vanilla ice cream and all-fruit strawberry preserves. He took an Ativan then as well.
But prison officials say this is a one-time-only privilege, and Thursday night he was provided with standard prison fare: chicken and rice, dried peas, seasoned turnip greens, cornbread, a brownie, and tea.
He was visited Thursday by an aunt, two friends, his legal counsel and a member of the clergy. They departed the prison by 3 p.m.
Thursday’s execution was scheduled for 7 p.m., but was slightly delayed because one of the doctors arrived late due to traffic, Olens said.
Around 7:25 p.m., DeYoung, dressed in a white jumpsuit with long pants and short sleeves, was led into the death chamber by six prison guards. He did not resist as they motioned for him to recline on the gurney, which was covered in a white sheet and white pillow. The death chamber has four windows that look out a small room with three benches for witnesses to sit. DeYoung was stretched out on the bed with his feet, which were bare and heavily calloused, facing the witness windows. The six guards placed straps around his ankles and across his thighs, all the while holding him down with their hands. DeYoung stared at the ceiling, his expression blank. Guards then extended arms rests from the gurney and strapped his arms at the wrist and below the elbow before trying him down with a chest strap as well.
The guards then exited the death chamber, and two female nurses came out from behind a white curtain, attaching three heart monitors to his chest at about 7:32 p.m. They also tied a blue ribbon around each arm to find a vein and inserted an IV drip in each arm. One drew also drew a vial of blood. At one point, one of the nurses appeared to ask him a question, which he answered with a smile before looking down at his arms. One nurse then went behind the white curtain while the other remained at his side.
Two prison guards then taped down the four fingers of each hand to the arm rests, leaving his thumbs free. DeYoung was covered by a white sheet that left his arms and head exposed at about 7:45 p.m. before he made his final statement, remaining calm and expressionless before closing his eyes. A fly landed on the sheet as the room remained silent, the only sound caused by the air conditioning.
Around 7:53 p.m., the nurse checked DeYoung’s face and shook her head. Three male doctors in white uniforms entered the death chamber, and each opened DeYoung’s eyes and checked his chest with stethoscopes. After the third doctor did this procedure, they nodded in agreement, and the warden pronounced DeYoung dead at 8:04 p.m. before closing the curtain in front of the witness windows.
Among those in the witness room with Olens were Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren and Cobb Superior Court Administrator Tom Charron, who served as the district attorney during the murder case.
In what Olens believes is a first for Georgia, a cameraman was allowed to record the execution.
The execution was set for Wednesday, but was pushed back a day as the state tried to block the recording.
Lawyers for death row inmate Gregory Walker argued that recording DeYoung’s execution would provide critical evidence in his appeal about the effects of pentobarbital, which is the sedative now being used as the first step in Georgia’s injection procedure.
Walker’s attorneys want to show that the drug does not adequately sedate the inmate and could cause pain and suffering.
In court filings, state prosecutors argued that having a videographer in the execution chamber would jeopardize the state’s carefully scripted security.
“That’s a very small room, and there are too many opportunities for mischief on behalf of the condemned,” Olens said. “For instance, when he’s walking into the room, anyone and everyone that isn’t a state corrections employee is someone at risk.”
State prosecutors also said creating a video came with the risk of it being distributed.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Bensonetta Tipton Lane allowed the recording to take place. The video will be kept under seal by the court. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said it was up to the courts to decide the matter, though he told reporters following a news conference Thursday he had “grave reservations” about videotaping executions.
The use of pentobarbital became an issue in Georgia after Roy Blankenship’s June 23 execution.
Blankenship was the first Georgia prisoner put to death using the sedative pentobarbital as the lead-off drug in the state’s lethal three-drug combination.
An Associated Press reporter witnessed Blankenship jerking his head several times during the procedure, looking at the injection sites in his arms and muttering after the pentobarbital was injected into his veins.
Death penalty critics said Blankenship’s unusual movements were proof that Georgia shouldn’t have used pentobarbital to sedate him before injecting pancuronium bromide to paralyze him and then potassium chloride to stop his heart.
In seeking a stay, DeYoung’s attorneys argued that using pentobarbital could cause DeYoung to suffer, but the courts rejected those arguments.
“Defense lawyers will continue to make the same argument on behalf of their clients, but the execution tonight, coupled with the video, undercut their arguments totally,” Olens said.
The state attorney general’s office has said adequate safeguards are in place to prevent needless suffering, including a consciousness check before the second and third drugs are administered.
DeYoung was 21 when he entered the home of his parents, off Shallowford and Trickum roads and not far from Lassiter High School, in the early morning hours of June 14, 1993, climbed the stairs to where his parents and sister were sleeping and stabbed them to death, according to court testimony.
Gary DeYoung and his wife, Kathryn, both 41, and their youngest child, Sarah, were found in pools of blood, their bodies marked by more than 40 stab wounds and cuts.
Andrew DeYoung was accompanied by David Michael Hagerty, then 26, whom DeYoung instructed to kill his 16-year-old brother, Nathan. But Nathan escaped through his bedroom window and ran to a neighbor’s house for safety. Prosecutors said DeYoung planned the crime to claim his parents’ estate, which DeYoung estimated to be worth $480,000, to start a business.
Hagerty pleaded guilty to his part in the murders and received three consecutive life sentences. He is incarcerated at Dodge State Prison in Chester.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report