May 17, 2017
JW Ledford, Jr., was executed by the state of Georgia on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. He was pronounced dead at 1:17 am EDT, inside the execution chamber at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia. His execution was delayed several hours due to appeals. He was 45 yeas of age. He was executed for the murder of 73-year-old Dr. Harry Johnston, Jr., on January 31, 1992, in Murray County, Georgia. Ledford spent the last 24 years of his life on death row in Georgia.
According to psychologist who examined JW Ledford, JW had a history substance abuse that included the regular consumption of marijuana, whisky, and beer. JW was also known to experiment with consuming acid, cocaine, and Quaaludes. JW began using alcohol and drinking heavily at the age of eight. Two years later, he began using marijuana. He also used other drugs, such as speed and acid at a young age, according to testimony from his childhood friends. JW’s father was also a drug dealer and dealt out of the house.
On January 31, 1992, JW Ledford, by his own confession, drank a six-pack of beer, smoked ten joints, and possibly took some pills. Ledford further admitted that he was really “messed up” and could not remember the drugs he took that day. Ledford had lived next door to Dr. Harry Johnston, Jr., and his wife Antoinette for most of his life.
Ledford confessed that he had asked Dr. Johnston to give him a ride to the grocery store. They left the doctor’s house around 2 pm. During the drive, Dr. Johnston accused Ledford of stealing and turned the vehicle around. Once back in the garage and out of the truck, Ledford alleges that Dr. Johnston smacked Ledford, causing him to fall to the ground. Ledford then alleges that Dr. Johnston pulled a knife from his belt and cut Ledford’s hand. In response, Ledford pulled out his own knife and “stuck” Dr. Johnston in the neck. Ledford then continued to stab the doctor repeatedly. Ledford then dragged the body away and covered it with tree branches.
Around mid-afternoon, Antoinette saw her husband drive off in his pick-up truck with an unidentified person in the passenger seat. Fifteen to twenty minutes later, Ledford knocked on the Johnston’s front door. Antoinette answered. Ledford asked if her husband was home. When Antoinette said he was not, Ledford left. Ledford returned about ten minutes later, asking that Dr. Johnston come over to his house when he returned. Antoinette promised to give her husband the message and Ledford left again.
Ledford returned about ten minutes later, brandishing a knife that belonged to Dr. Johnston. Ledford forced his way into the residence, placed the knife at Antoinette’s throat, threaten to kill her, and demanded that she give him all of her money and guns. Antoinette went to the bedroom and gave Ledford all the cash she had. While in the bedroom, Ledford saw a pistol on the nightstand and took it. While walking towards the kitchen, Ledford saw and took a rifle, a shotgun, and a second pistol.
Ledford then returned to the bedroom with Antoinette, forced her onto the bed and tied her up. He also again threatened to kill her and told her that he needed money for drugs. Before leaving, Ledford cut the telephone cord, and told Antoinette not to move for ten minutes.
After Ledford left, Antoinette locked the front door and went to the kitchen where she retrieved a knife and attempted to cut her bindings. From the living room, she then observed Ledford leaving in her husband’s truck, alone. Antoinette began to worry for the safety of her husband and, around 3:45 pm, Antoinette called the police.
Around 4:15 pm, Ledford was pulled over and arrested by the police. In addition to driving the doctor’s vehicle, the two pistols were recovered from the vehicle, along with two knives. Ledford had already pawned the rifle and shotgun.
Around 6 pm, deceives arrived at the Johnston residence. In the garage, they discovered a pool of blood, with a trail of blood that led to the body of Dr. Johnston. Ledford gave a written confession to the police.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Harry Johnston. Please pray for strength for the family of JW Ledford.