Georgia parole board declines to spare life of condemned man

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ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's parole board on Tuesday declined to spare the life of a man set to be executed for the killings of his ex-wife and her boyfriend.

Donnie Cleveland Lance, 66, is scheduled to be put to death Wednesday. He was convicted and sentenced to die for the November 1997 killings of Sabrina “Joy” Lance and Dwight “Butch” Wood Jr. in Jackson County, about 60 miles (95 kilometers) northeast of Atlanta.

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles declined to grant clemency after holding a closed-door hearing Tuesday. The parole board is the only authority in Georgia that can commute a death sentence.

The board did not give a reason for its decision, saying only that it had considered the facts and circumstances, as well as the clemency application and testimony.

Lance went to Wood’s home the night of Nov. 8, 1997, kicked in the front door and shot Wood in the front and back with a shotgun and then beat Joy Lance to death with the butt of the shotgun, according to a Georgia Supreme Court summary of the case.

Lance has maintained his innocence.

Lance would be the first person executed in Georgia this year. Jimmy Fletcher Meders was scheduled for lethal injection Jan. 16, but the parole board commuted his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole just hours before the execution was scheduled to happen.

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