Donnie Lance, Georgia
January 29, 2020
Donnie Cleveland Lance was executed by the state of Georgia on Wednesday, January 29, 2020. Donnie was pronounced dead at 9:05 pm local time inside the execution chamber at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia. His execution was slightly delayed due to appeals. Donnie was 65 years of age. He was executed for murdering his 39-year-old ex-wife Joy Lance and her new boyfriend 33-year-old Dwight “Butch” Wood, on November 9, 1997, at Butch’s home in Jackson County, Georgia. Donnie spent the last 20 years of his life on death row in Georgia.
Donnie and Joy were married before eventually splitting up, after which, Joy began seeing Dwight “Butch” Wood. On the night of November 8, 1997, Joy was at Butch’s home. Donnie had called Joy’s father, attempting to locate her just before midnight. Donnie learned that she was not a home. A passing police officer noticed Donnie’s vehicle leaving his driveway around 12 am on November 9, 1997.
Later on the same day, Donnie spoke to a friend and, after referring to Joy in a derogatory manner, stated that both Joy and Butch were dead.
Donnie had a history of abusing Joy, having kidnapped her; beat her with his fists, a belt, and a handgun; strangled her; electrocuted her using a car battery; threatening to kill her with flammable liquids, a handgun, and a chainsaw; and threatening to kill himself. Additionally, Donnie once asked a relative what it might cost to hire someone to kill Joy and Butch. Donnie had previously, along with a friend, and while armed, kicked in the front door of Butch’s home, only fleeing when his friend was recognized by a child in the home.
Donnie was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death in 1999. During his trial, Donnie and his attorneys argued that he was innocent, with his uncle as an alibi, although there was a period of time, during which the murder likely took place, that Donnie was not with his uncle. However, Donnie’s family also testified that he behaved normally both prior to and immediately after the murder.
During his trial, evidence was presented that suggested Donnie had brain damage to his frontal and temporal lobes, which resulted from multiple blows to the head and from alcohol abuse. Donnie had began drinking alcohol heavily at the age of 19. Donnie’s alleged brain damage would have affected his impulse control.
Pray for peace and healing for the families of Joy and Butch. Pray for strength for the family of Donnie.
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