ATLANTA (AP) — A judge on Monday temporarily delayed the execution of a Georgia man who was scheduled to die Tuesday for killing an 8-year-old girl 46 years ago.
Virgil Delano Presnell Jr., 68, killed the girl and raped her 10-year-old friend after abducting them as they walked home from school in Cobb County, just outside Atlanta, on May 4, 1976. He was scheduled to die by injection of the sedative pentobarbital at the state prison in Jackson at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Ruling from the bench at the end of a hearing that lasted more than eight hours Monday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Shermela Williams issued an order temporarily prohibiting the state from proceeding with the execution Tuesday. She was ruling in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Presnell’s lawyers that alleged that by setting an execution date the state violated an agreement that effectively put executions on hold during the coronavirus pandemic and established conditions under which they could resume.