May 16 (UPI) -- In its first execution this year, Georgia put to death J.W. "Boy" Ledford Jr. on Wednesday after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-minute stay of execution.
The lethal injection was carried out at 1:17 a.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Center in Jackson.
Ledford, 45, wanted to die by firing squad and was convicted of killing the doctor who delivered him at birth. His execution was scheduled for 7 p.m on Tuesday after the Georgia Supreme Court and a federal appeals court denied his stay of execution request.
At midnight, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from his lawyers, clearing the way for Ledford's execution. They had argued that it's wrong to sentence to death an offender less than 21 years old. Ledford was 20 when he was sentenced in 1992.
Ledford had his dinner and was visited by one friend Tuesday afternoon as he awaited word of his fate.
His request to be put to death via firing squad, arguing it would be a more humane way to die, was rejected on Friday.
Georgia uses the drug pentobarbital to induce unconsciousness and then death instead of midazolam, a drug used in a toxic medley which has been at the center of a Supreme Court debate over allegations it is a painful, lengthy method of execution.
Ledford's lawyers argued the prescription drug gabapentin he uses to treat chronic nerve pain will cause pentobarbital to be ineffective. Lethal injection is the only method available in Georgia, but his lawyers said the state has the resources to carry out an execution by firing squad.
"There is a substantial risk that Mr. Ledford will be aware and in agony as the pentobarbital attacks his respiratory system, depriving his brain, heart and lungs of oxygen as he drowns in his own saliva," Ledford's lawyers wrote in court papers.
A Georgia Parole Board also rejected Ledford's request for clemency on Monday. In the clemency request, Ledford's lawyers cited early exposure to drugs and alcohol, a childhood in an abusive home, a low IQ and his remorse.
"He does not try to hide away from the harm he caused and is open with anyone he knows about the pain and about his sadness for the family," the lawyer's wrote.
Ledford was sentenced to death in 1992 for killing his 73-year-old neighbor, Dr. Harry Johnston, who delivered Ledford.
For his last meal, Ledford requested filet mignon wrapped in bacon with pepper jack cheese, french fries, 10 chicken tenders, fried pork chop, a bloomin' onion, pecan pie with vanilla ice cream, sherbet and a Sprite.
Ledford was Georgia's first execution in 2017. The state executed nine people in 2016.