June 18, 2014 12:12 am EDT


Marcus A. Wellons was executed sometime after 11 pm EDT, on Tuesday, June 17, 2014, at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia. Marcus was 59 years of age. He was sentenced to death and executed for the murder of 15-year-old India Roberts, which occurred in Cobb County, Georgia, on August 31, 1989. Marcus spent the last 20 years of his life on Georgia's death row.


Marcus is the first person executed in the United States since the prolonged execution of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett on April 29, 2014. Marcus is also the first person to be executed in Georgia since February 2013. Marcus' execution was originally scheduled to begin at 7 pm EDT, however, appeals to the Supreme Court of Georgia and the Supreme Court of the United States delayed the execution several hours.


During the summer of 1989, Marcus Wellons lived with Gail Saunders, his girlfriend, and her 14-year-old son. Fifteen-year-old India Roberts, who was entering her sophomore year of high school, was friends with Gail's son, lived in the same apartment building, and frequently visited. At the end of the summer, on August 30, 1989, Gail broke things off with Wellons, telling him to move out. Wellons, bought a one-way plane ticket to Florida for August 31, 1989. That night, Gail stayed with a friend, while Wellons stayed in the apartment. Wellons drank heavily that night, because he was upset he was unable to reach Gail by telephone. He also destroyed her apartment and property, later attempting to blame it on an intruder, even calling the police to report a robbery.


Around 8:00 am, on August 31, 1989, India left home to catch the school bus. Neighbors reported that shortly thereafter, they heard muffled screams coming from Gail's apartment. Several items belonging to India were later found inside the apartment.


Later that day, around 2:00 pm, Wellons attempted to borrow a car from an acquaintance. His request was denied. Approximately 30 minutes later, retired military police officer Theodore Cole was driving by a wooded area near the apartment building, when he saw a man with what looked like a body wrapped in a sheet. He also saw feet dangling out from the bottom of the sheet. He drove back for a second look and saw the man throw the sheet into the woods. Theodore called police, who found the body of India near the location that Theodore had spotted the man. Theodore later positively identified Wellons as the man with the sheet.


Police arrived and saw Wellons heading out to the woods with a bundle under his arm. When Wellons saw police, he ran back into the apartment. Police eventually confronted him, and upon searching the apartment found significant evidence that India was raped and strangled to death inside the apartment. An autopsy later revealed that India had several defensive wounds. Wellons was arrested that day.


Wellons did not deny the murder or the rape of India at his trial. Rather, he claimed he was not guilty by reason of insanity or guilty but mentally ill, but failed to present any testimony by mental health experts during the guilt/innocence phase of the trial.


Please pray for peace and healing for the family of India Roberts. Please pray for strength for the family of Marcus Wellons.