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Board denies clemency for Scotty Morrow; convicted Hall County killer set to die tonight
Scotty Morrow
Scotty Morrow

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency for a man sentenced to die Thursday, May 2 for two 1994 Hall County murders.

Scotty Garnell Morrow, 52, is scheduled to die at 7 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. He was convicted in 1999 of killing Barbara Ann Young and Tonya Rochelle Woods, as well as shooting LaToya Horne, on Dec. 29, 1994 at Young’s Gainesville home.

The state board met at 9 a.m. Wednesday to consider clemency for Morrow, and the denial was announced after 7 p.m. the same day.

The board had three options after the meeting: Commute Morrow’s sentence to life imprisonment, deny clemency or issue a stay on the execution for a maximum of 90 days.

If the sentence had been commuted, the board could have also chosen whether Morrow would have the possibility of parole.

Morrow’s appeal to the United States Supreme Court was denied Feb. 19.

After killing Young and Woods, Morrow walked behind the dog pen in his backyard with a gun and considered suicide, according to his attorneys’ application for clemency.

Morrow’s ex-wife wrote in a letter that the only thing that stopped him was his son, who was calling out for him.

Morrow’s attorneys argued he has taken responsibility, has shown remorse and has been a model inmate in his time behind bars.

“Mr. Morrow’s acts of violence were aberrations in a life otherwise characterized by kindness and compassion and the man he became in December of 1994 bears no resemblance to the man he was before and the man he has worked to be since,” according to the clemency application.

Morrow’s attorneys painted a picture of him as a loving father who “cared deeply not only for his own two sons, but for Ms. Young’s five small children.”

“As Mr. Morrow explained to this Board’s staff last week, in the days leading up to the crime, he began to hear rumors of Ms. Young’s involvement with someone else and her intention to leave him. The testimony at trial was that Ms. Young was planning to reconcile with the father of two of her children upon his impending release from prison,” according to the clemency application.

But Attorney General Chris Carr cited the Georgia Supreme Court’s summary of the case in the notice announcing the execution, which read in part Young left Morrow “because of his abusive behavior.”

Young’s 5-year-old son was watching when Morrow shot and killed the boy’s mother.

An archived December 1994 article in The Times quoted Barbara Young’s brother, Ronnie, who said Morrow had been dating his sister for roughly two months.

“He appeared to be nice, but when no one was around, he turned dirty. He beat her up,” Ronnie Young said. “(Barbara) Ann had her friends (LaToya and Tonya) stay with her because she was scared of (Morrow).”

Morrow wrote a letter on the 15th anniversary of the slayings, penning that he searches himself “daily to try to find out how I could lose control to this magnitude.”

In the final pages of the application, Morrow’s attorneys argued the trial jury did not hear evidence about Morrow being sexually assaulted repeatedly by a family member.

The attorneys said Morrow “was unable to volunteer these facts to Dr. Buchanan in the midst of his capital trial in 1999.”

“The information about his early physical and sexual victimization helped explain Mr. Morrow’s inability to tap into his own emotions at the time of my first evaluation. As a result of his repeated exposure to complex trauma as a child, Mr. Morrow adopted maladaptive coping mechanisms, such as cutting off his emotions, which limited his ability to develop healthy emotional responses and form healthy attachments as he grew older,” according to a letter written by Buchanan.